Can loyalty be bought? Yes.

Well, McSweeney’s promised me a free gift — a “best of” collection that, as my e-mail read, should serve as an apology and hopefully wouldn’t sit on my shelf in a bitter funk.

Today, that “best of” collection came. And faith has been restored.

Not only did they send the Dec/Jan copy of The Believer (the $10 DVD edition), but they also send a copy of their quarterly short story publication McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #13 — the comic issue, which was talked up by none other than Nick Hornby, a personal fave — a copy of an art book: Dear New Girl Or Whatever Your Name Is, and another McSweeney’s publication: The Facts of Winter by Paul Poissel.

In other words, they sent me the most expensive issue of their magazine, the coolest looking edition of their quarterly journal (which hits nearly 300 pages, by the way), and two McSweeney’s press books.

Sure, they may have been trying to buy my forgiveness. But, I’m surprised to say, it worked rather well. In fact, I’m considering not only subscribing to The Believer, but also to the McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.

Check them out here: The Believer, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. It’s amazing how artistic and literary one independent publisher can be. It’s doubly amazing what lengths a company will go to keep their name clean, their image positive, and their prospective customers happy.

As a copywriter, I understand the value of positive promotion, of getting the general public to understand the positives of your company rather than the negatives. I was so caught up in the negatives — the shady subscription hijinx — that I forgot that the positives (literature and magazines too brilliant, though a little pretentious, to be found elsewhere) were too great to ignore.

We won one part of this war. We send our message — or my mother did, at least. We got the lawyer, and hopefully she got her check. McSweeney’s fired back with a well put shot — a promise of free stuff — and I was swayed to their side a little. I don’t know why they never responded to my e-mails, but I understand that mistakes are made. The final blow was receiving the free stuff, totaling $70.

McSweeney’s, you’re forgiven from my side. I’m weak, I’ll admit. I find it hard to sway my brand loyalty, especially when my loyalty is so easily bought. I respect the fact that I was given something for our troubles, and I respect the humility with which it was done. As I said, the few months leading up to this continue to be a mystery, but they’ve done what they could, and I’ll admit, it’s more than I thought I’d see.

Thank you, McSweeney’s.

However, if I do subscribe, you’ll be assured I’ll do it on-line this time.

The check won’t be in the mail.

This was lovingly handwritten on June 3rd, 2006