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For Leap Day Only, A Rare Newspaper Goes To Print

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At newsstands across France on Wednesday, readers will delight to a humorous broadsheet published every four years on leap day.

At news shops in Paris and around France, readers look forward to their copy of La Bougie du Sapeur every Feb. 29. Published since 1980, the satirical journal is now in its ninth edition. Its title, which translates as "sapper's candle," is taken from an old French comic-book figure who was born on that fateful last day of February.

Jean d'Indy is the editor and publisher of La Bougie du Sapeur. He says it's not hard to find humor in the news.

"We try not to be naughty; we just try to be funny," he says. "But we are not funny. Life is funny. So, it's the way of seeing life which is funny."

D'Indy says La Bougie du Sapeur doesn't cover subjects that have already been exhausted in the press — so it'll stay away from the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal.

The quadrennial newspaper, which costs 4 euros, or about $5, sells 150,000 copies each time around, far surpassing the ailing French dailies. D'Indy has considered offering subscriptions — but he says it would be too hard to find people if they moved between publishing dates.

D'Indy has little overhead, because his newsroom is a restaurant where, he says, his writers grease their mental gears with Champagne. Any profits are donated to charity.

The editor attributes the appeal of his newspaper to its rarity. People appreciate what is rare, he says. To make it still more rare, D'Indy has toyed with the idea of publishing only when Feb. 29 falls on a Sunday.

If that happens, readers would have to wait until 2032 for the next edition.

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