Someone You Should Know: Back-Issue Baron Bob Katzman

Send Your Concerns To Harry Porterfield

SKOKIE (CBS) — For nearly half a century, he’s been collecting and selling back issues of magazines. If you want a Time magazine from the ‘40s or a Playboy from the ‘50s, chances are he has it in his shop.  

But Bob Katzman is not just a business operator, he’s an avid student of history. And he’s someone you should know, says CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield.

Before there was Google, there was Katzman – and still is. He is the owner of the Magazine Museum Shop at 4906 Oakton in Skokie. Among other publications, the space is loaded with a 140,000 back-dated magazines.

“We are the last place in the country to sell Playboy going back to 1953,” Katzman says. “We are the last place to sell car magazines dating back to 1950.”

He knows where every one of them is and what’s in them — without a computer.

“I don’t know how to use a computer; that would be harder for me to do,” Katzman says. “If you asked me for something, I can give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer immediately.

It all began in Hyde Park in 1965, when, as a 15-year-old, Katzman set up a news stand to earn money for tuition at the University of Chicago lab school.   Over the years, he assembled printed material by the truckload.

Today, his is one of America’s last back-issue magazine stores to have survived Internet retailing. Prices range from as little as $5 to as much as $1,000 or more. Incredible as it may seem, Katzman can provide you with an original copy of the Observator, a newspaper printed in London in 1681.

Along with collecting and selling back-dated publications, he has written and published five books about his life. The father of four is a cancer survivor, having had 32 operations, including two brain surgeries.

“I have a great passion for doing this, for preserving something, putting it in order and trying to make people happy,” Katzman says. “I think that it’s impossible, but I do it, anyway.”

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