Friday, November 30, 2007

Tax situation turned to advantage of publishers of The Beaver

Canada's National History Society, publishers of The Beaver and Kayak doesn't let any grass grow under its feet.

When Canada's Competition Bureau approved the sale of BCE (Bell Canada Enterprises) to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, it realized that BCE shareholders would be required to dispose of their shares and pay capital gains tax, unless their shares were sheltered in a registered retirement savings plan or a pension.

People who had used up their capital gains allowance would take a big tax hit; that is, unless they donated their shares to a charity. And CNHS is such a charity.

So, the Society has cannily sent out a message to its members pointing out that donating stock would
  • minimize their tax
  • provide a tax-deductible receive for fair market value of the donation
  • reduce taxable capital gains by a further 50%

99 North is closed by Canada Wide

Four years ago, Canada Wide Magazine and Communications Ltd. bought 99 North Visitor Magazine in Squamish, B. C. But because of lack of advertising support, according to Samatha Legge, Canada Wide's general manager, it will appear no longer. This, according to a story by Sylvie Paillard, published by the weekly newspaper the Squamish Chief .

The publication was started in 1998 by then 19-year-old Natalie Pereman of Squamish, in partnership with Patricia Heintzman, said the story. At first an annual, it offered a visitors' guide to activities from Horseshoe Bay to Lillooet. In 2000, the magazine went twice a year and increased its circulation to 100,000 copies.
Pereman refused to comment on the magazine’s history and the recent developments except to say she felt “sad.” Heintzman said the pair toiled for years with no payoff but the love of it, and its potential demise is a blow. “Nat and I put five, six years of blood, sweat and tears into this thing and, although I haven’t been invested in it emotionally for three or four years, it’s always sad to see something that you’ve laboured over for so long not succeed.”
Legge said: “When we bought it, we really thought it was a wonderful magazine and we’re really committed to it and wanted to see how we can restrategize to make it financially viable,” she said. She added that her company’s lack of local connection may have been its undoing. “It worked well when it was in the community and we’ve tried to participate in the community and ingratiate ourselves... We’ve not been as successful at it as we’ve hoped.”
Heintzman said the company’s distance appeared to have affected the editorial content, which may, in turn, have alienated the sales. “The editorial content all of a sudden became more of the fish out of water stories – the Billy Crystal going on an outback trip, the city slicker comes to town – as opposed to ‘We do this all the time, come and share our backyard.’” Heintzman said the decision to suspend publication means one less spotlight on the smaller communities along the Sea to Sky Corridor. “I think particularly the smaller communities will suffer, like Pemberton and Squamish. They don’t get the play that other magazines give Whistler.”


Oilfield publishing merger inked as JuneWarren bought out by Glacier

Two major oil industry publishing groups are to be merged with the 100% purchase of the JuneWarren Publishing by GVIC Communications Corp. for an undisclosed combination of cash and shares.

(GVIC used to be called Glacier International Ventures Corporation; it is a former bottled water company that transformed itself into an information and communications company and it became a major media player with the acquisition of Hollinger's trade publishing division and many of its newspapers in the west).

The JuneWarren magazines are Canadian Oilfield Service & Supply Directory, Oilweek, Oil & Gas Inquirer, Oilsands Review, Alberta Construction Magazine and Canadian Oilfield Gas Plant Atlas. These and related custom publishing, directory and atlas publications and chart and map publishing will be combined with GVIC's Nickle's Energy Group. The Nickle group publishes Daily Oil Bulletin, the Canadian Oil Register directory, New Technology Magazine (which focuses on technology in the oil industry, the Rig Locator and The Profiler (an oil industry theme based magazine).

GVIC holdings include the 45 print and online magazines, directories, specialty websites and electronic information acquired when it purchased the Business Information Group from Hollinger Inc, as well as the Business in Vancouver Media Group.

Its combined daily and community newspaper group offers distribution of more than 1.3 million copies across B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Its trade information group consists of the largest agricultural publication group in Western Canada.

Its business & professional information group includes Specialty Technical Publishers which publishes regulatory & compliance information; CD Pharma Interactive Medical Productions which develops electronic interactive continuing medical education programs for doctors; Fundata which provides investment fund related electronic and print information and analytics to the Canadian and global investment community and a wide variety of Canadian newspapers and media.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Corporate Knights loses thousands of copies, forced to bonus subscribers

In what can only be characterized as something less than a catastrophe, something more than an annoyance, the magazine Corporate Knights has gone to extraordinary lengths to mollify readers because many copies of its fall issue mysteriously disappeared.

The magazine has extended subscriptions by one issue and sent links to a digital edition to all its subscribers along with an apology. The magazine says it was because of an unspecified "accident" at its shipping house. Here was the message that subscribers received:

Dear Subscriber,

We hope this finds you in good spirits as we enter into the holiday season.

Our most recent issue (Fall 2007 Cleantech Issue) was regrettably victim of an accident at our shipping house. Thousands of copies of the magazine, most of them slated for our subscribers, disappeared. So, many of you, our dear readers, will be looking at your mailboxes in vain.

To rectify this, we are doing two things: First, we are making available special digital versions of our Cleantech issue (see links below); and second, we have added an extra (bonus) issue to all of your subscriptions.

We appreciate your support and apologize for not putting a hard copy of this issue in your hands. However, it is a carbon neutral one if you don’t print it out. :)

We do still have a couple hundred magazines at our office, so if this arrangement does not work for you, please just drop us a note or call the subscription department, and we will send out a hard copy issue to you (as if no shipping house accident had occurred).

Cheers, Corporate Knights Subscription Department

Governments shouldn't compete with magazines, says MagsCan

Magazines Canada says governments should not compete with the private sector in publishing magazines. This has always been Magazines Canada's position publicly, but now it is being released as a policy paper that the national association hopes will be adopted by various levels of government.

The policy document springs from various situations where government-funded or -supported magazines associated with government-controlled liquor marketing monopolies have hoovered up advertising that might otherwise have gone to established magazines. A few examples have been written about here previously, including Food & Drink (Ontario), Cellier (Quebec) and Occasions (Nova Scotia).

MagsCan says that governments support magazines culturally and financially, then turn around and compete with them.
When governments, concurrently, compete unfairly with private sector Canadian-content magazines, they undermine the value and effectiveness of these cultural programs.
To ensure ‘fair competition’ and the encouragement of a robust magazine sector across the country, the policy recommends that governments should adopt the following policies:

  1. Magazines published by governments should not sell advertising
  2. Where government agencies publish magazines, that government must ensure the magazine can and does not abuse a dominant position in the marketplace.
  3. Where governments publish magazines, they are encouraged to contract out the business. This business should be competitively tendered and be renewed on a regular basis to ensure continued value to the taxpayer.
  4. If a government agency publishes a magazine, its business affairs should be totally separated from that of the publishing agency and it should be an independent, self-supporting enterprise.


Folio: launches reader friendlier website

Folio:, the magazine for (U.S.) magazine management, has launched the beta version of a renovated website which is much easier to navigate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rogers b-to-b titles pull out of the
Canadian Business Press

[NOTE: This story has been updated. See below.]

Rogers Media Publishing is pulling out of the Canadian Business Press (CBP). With its membership will go about 40% of the CBP's budget. Of the 160 CBP member titles, Rogers publishes 36, in both French and English, including some of the largest.

John Milne, Senior Vice-President, Rogers Business & Professional Group has sent a memorandum to his senior managers in the business-to-business division announcing the decision, which was discussed informally with several publishers of Rogers' trade magazines recently. It is understood that the company wants to negotiate some form of association with Magazines Canada, the principal consumer magazine publishing association.

[UPDATE: Here is the story as reported to its members on the CBP website. Interestingly, it suggests that there is willingness by CBP to enter into discussions about reuniting its involvement with that of Magazines Canada in one annual industry conference. A meeting is scheduled for next week, it says, between MagsCan chair Robert Goyette and CBP Chair David McClung.

And here is the story as carried by Mastheadonline (sub req'd), including quotes from John Milne.]

It is not clear what impacts this decision will have elsewhere in the magazine industry. For instance, CBP's partnership in Magazines University, the annual magazine conference run with North Island Publishing, publishers of Masthead magazine. Or the annual Kenneth R. Wilson Awards for trade publishing which are run by CBP although membership in the organization is not necessary for specialized business, trade and farm publications to enter. Rogers has been a major sponsor of the awards.

It is also not known whether any other magazines or magazine groups will decamp from CBP to join a possible new b-to-b caucus within Magazines Canada.


Celebrating with all the little people

Let this be a lesson to all of us. The venerable magazine The Atlantic celebrated its 150th anniversary with a party held at the Kimmel Centre at New York University. The room had a stage which functioned as an "awkward VIP area", according to blogger Dylan Stableford, while most of the rest of the guests milled about below, drinking free booze and watching. Awkward. Worse, video is available from Gawker Media.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Seasonal guide to magazine gift guides

A staple of the magazine trade is the Christmas gift guide (though, in most magazines, it is now called the "holiday" gift guide) which is intended to whet consumer appetites about the latest swag available in the stores. The National Post has done us a favour by summarizing some of Canada's best magazine gift guides. Here is what it found:

Priciest gifts on offer:
  • Flare magazine: a grey lambskin purse with gold hardware, from Louis Vuitton, at $14,230
  • Loulou: Van Cleef & Arpels women's watch, $10,560.
  • Wish magazine: a Nylon duffle bag by Prada, $1,835
  • Canadian Living magazine: Silver bicycle from Holt Renfrew, $2,250
Cheapest gifts:
  • Canadian Living: iridescent painted paperweights crafted by Vietnamese artisans, $7 each
  • Wish: CoverGirl Wetslick Fruitspritzers lip gloss, $7.
  • Loulou: (affordable find) Log-on stacking blocks shaped like squirrels and logs, $18
  • Flare: Melamine cups for kids, with bright patterns and friendly monsters, $10 a cup

Strong loonie is a good news/bad news thing, Masthead reports

Masthead magazine has done some excellent reporting (sub req'd) in the past couple of days, talking to publishers across Canada about the up -- and down -- sides of the higher Canadian dollar.

Part one looked at the downside and found that publishers aren't able to get the clients to adjust as fast as they'd like.
Alex Papanou, vice-president of publishing at the Business Information Group, publisher of over 90 trade magazines, directories and newsletters, says U.S. billing represents 20 per cent of his company’s business. The easiest way to recoup those losses would be to jack up prices for U.S. advertisers, but Papanou admits that isn’t a viable solution.
Part two looks at the upside, such as getting cold calls from hungry U.S. printers.
DogSport publisher Andrew Douglas [says] some American companies have taken notice. “We’re a micromagazine and yet these large U.S. printers are really starting to call us a lot,” says the Guelph, Ontario-based publisher. “It surprises me that the major web companies are starting to cherry pick or at least trying to pick off smaller magazines.”


Quote, unquote: on the flight to quality

I think we have a philosophy that, the Internet can do a lot of things really great, so focus your magazine on the things the Internet can't do really great—write long stories, print it on nice paper, have beautiful layouts. I think that a lot of other magazines are trying to make stories shorter and become adaptable to the web, and essentially make the magazine product something that dovetails quite nicely immediately into the web format. So why buy the magazine? Even though we do put all the content of our magazine online for free, people still do find a different experience in coming home and opening it up and spending time with it. I'm very proud to be working at a place that believes in that kind of flight to quality.
-- Jason Tanz, the business editor of Wired magazine, in an interview with PR Week.


Quebecor's World of troubles continue

With Quebecor World suspending dividends on its preferred stock, the buzz around its financial troubles is becoming predictably more speculative and occasionally bizarre, with suggestions in a Reuters story
  • that the value of the company's stock could conceivably plunge to zero;
  • that Transcontinenental Inc., a major rival, would be a potential buyer of the book, directory and marketing businesses;
  • that the Peladeau family might have to pay $6 or $7 a share to privatize the company (the stock yesterday had fallen to $2.45);
  • that huge U.S. printer R.R. Donnelly might be a strategic buyer, but would have to sell other assets to get around regulatory hurdles
The giant printer is controlled by Quebecor Inc., also Quebec's largest publisher of consumer magazines. Quebecor owns 35% of Quebecor World shares and 84% of the votes. The company's stock has fallen 85% since February.

See earlier posts for background.


Whole Foods Market, now more than expensive vegetables; also a magazine

Whole Foods Market, the high end organic grocery store, is planning, in partnership with Active Interest Media, to launch Whole Foods Market Magazine next year in the U.S. and Canada. Starting in January, the bimonthly custom magazine will be available in more than 60 stores, starting with the midwest and then the Rocky Mountain region. First printing will be 200,000 copies. It's expected to be a year before all 260 stores in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain see it. Whole Foods has several Canadian locations, in the Bloor-Yorkville area of Toronto, in Oakville and in four locations in Vancouver and West Vancouver.

Designed specifically for Whole Foods Market shoppers, Whole Foods Market Magazine will feature the latest in health and wellness news, food and environmental issues and trends, a wine column, the latest in beauty and self- care products, and more. The magazine will also feature the best natural, organic and gourmet foods as well as healthy and delicious recipes.

"Whole Foods Market Magazine will make the experience of shopping at Whole Foods Market come alive in print," says David Rosenberg, regional marketing director for Whole Foods Market. "Our customers care about their health and the health of the planet, and our new magazine will directly respond to their interests and needs."

Whole Foods Market Magazine is the latest publication from AIM, based in El Segundo, California. Others include Yoga Journal, Vegetarian Times, Backpacker, Better Nutrition and Optimum Wellness, Wild Oats, Southwest Art, American Cowboy, Log Home Design, Log Home Living, Timber Home Living, Building Systems, Black Belt, and Yachts International magazines.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The New York Ghost has a stealthy launch

An alternative non-paper paper has been launched, more or less by stealth, in New York. It is called the New York Ghost and is a pdf filled with rambling and apparently unrelated bits and pieces of information (ed: a newspaper, in other words). According to a story in the New York Times, it is published by Ed Park, an editor at the Believer and a former editor of the Village Voice. He apparently started it making its rounds to his friends and it has taken off.
Among the original pieces that have appeared in its pages are a one-question Q & A with a rapper known as Bun B. by Sasha Frere-Jones, pop music critic of The New Yorker, and an essay on pseudonyms by an author and New Yorker editor, Ben Greenman. The newsletter, which is free, boasts of having more than 500 subscribers, not to mention untold numbers of editors, copy editors, writers and fact-checkers who have read a copy abandoned on the tray of an office printer.
Its cheeky tagline is "The Weekly Newsletter You Print Out at Work!" (Funny, this sounds like the daily newspaper that the Toronto Star tried, and failed to make fly, a pdf that commuters were intended to print out at work and read on the GO train.) The Ghost can be subscribed to free, as an e-mailed pdf, by writing to: newyorkghostATgmailDOTcom. It says operators are standing by, unless they are outside smoking clove cigarettes and watching the rain...


Swapping pennies for dollars

New York Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman told a British House of Lords committee last week that new online business models for newspapers are just substituting "pennies for dollars".

He said he is trying to develop new business models for the web but returns aren't comparable with print, according to a story in the UK Press Gazette.

Zuckerman said that the new challenges have meant that his magazine US News and World Report has gone from 12 foreign bureaux to none. He said the magazine now focuses on “news you can use” such as rankings for colleges and hospitals.

According to the Lords report: “A great story on Iraq, or politics makes no difference to their circulation figures but their rankings are of key importance to readers and advertisers. All new providers must find added value: analysis, opinion, parody, something not available elsewhere.”

What's a magazine worth? A little or a lot, depending on your perspective

For three generations, publishers and proprietors in the magazine industry have done themselves and the industry a serious injury by perpetuating the belief that readers won't pay what magazines are worth. So pervasive is the belief that the assumption is no longer even tested.

The late Howard Gossage defined it as taking a bite of a poisoned apple, the day that publishers decided that the cost of production of a magazine would be borne more by advertising revenue than by readers. He pointed out how bizarre is our distribution and marketing system now:
An illustration of the utter madness of publishing economics is that a...magazine is the only consumer product, from bubble gum to bras, where the selling price has no relation to the actual cost of production. It costs less, for instance, to have a magazine delivered at home than it does to buy it in a store...
As a result, we have convinced the public that a 100-page magazine, with 30,000 words of carefully considered text, illustration and photography in full colour is worth no more than a high-end greeting card with four words inside. The public can be forgiven for believing that a magazine is worth, give or take, about five bucks, because we've told them it is.

Some magazines are edging their price upwards to $6.95 or even $7.95. But the general trend holds true. And, given inflation, an average magazine's cover price -- the price to the consumer -- is probably 1/10th of what it was 20 years ago. Despite our lofty words about reader engagement and loyalty and journalistic integrity, most magazines have wound up pricing themselves as disposable indulgences. We have treated what we make as a commodity that readers can buy cheaper (in terms of their personal spending power) each year.

I'm bringing this up because some few magazines are bucking this trend and charging what their product is worth. One example is Lapham's Quarterly, just out, which could be described as the retirement project of former Harper's editor Lewis Lapham. It has a bracing, but otherwise quite realistic, cover price of $16. And no ads. It doesn't apologize for its aspirations or denigrate its own value, but trumpets it. Of course it is treated as exceptional (which it undoubtedly is), rather than as a way forward (which it might be). The idea of a circulation-driven economic model rather than an advertising-driven one is considered laughable in most magazine corporate suites. And remains largely unexplored by independent publishers.

It's worth remembering other magazines that knew their own value, like Fortune magazine, launched in the depth of the depression and charging $1 a copy when most magazines sold for 5 cents. It, too, made no apologies though, in later years, it fell into the same habits of mind and marketing as the rest of the industry.

Some small literary and cultural magazines in this country wrestle with increasing their prices to $10 or $12 a copy, even though they effectively publish quarterlies that have every bit as much value as comparable paperback books that routinely charge $17.95 and up.

Of course there are those who will say that digital and web-based publishing will change all of this and that's undoubtedly true. But we should be concerned that, having convinced ourselves that what we produce has a finite value, that our main customers are advertisers not readers, will we blow the chance to give control back to the reader? Already there is strong evidence that content will be free altogether in most instances, with advertisers calling the shots. If readers are forcing this model on us, it is only because we have trained them for years that they can have something for nothing. Controlled circulation -- an excellent way of helping advertisers reach targetted audiences -- is proof of this.

We have all seen examples of where perfectly wonderful magazines, beloved of their readers, died because advertisers didn't care about them. Readers today aren't given the chance (with rare exceptions like Adbusters) to vote with their dollars. They lost their say when advertisers were given the reins by the magazine industry itself.

(Stephen Osborne, an occasional contributor to this blog and the editor of Geist magazine, has said that virtually all magazines are subsidized in some way; the only question is where the subsidy comes from. His subsidy management model says any revenue generated from sources other than consumers should be considered a subsidy, including advertising. Most consumer magazines are subsidized 60 - 70% by advertisers. Smaller literary and cultural magazine have some advertising and the rest comes from public funding and fundraising. Only very few magazines find it possible to have their readers cover the majority of their costs.)

I'd be interested to hear from magazines in this country who follow or are moving to a circulation-driven model (in print and/or online), particularly their experience with readers who actually embrace the idea of having the magazines they want by the relatively simple expedient of paying for them.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

McSweeney's editor Eggers speaking in Toronto Tuesday night

The founder and editor of McSweeney's, the quarterly magabook which many of you have probably admired for its quirky charm and audacity, is speaking in Toronto on Tuesday, if you're in town. He is a guest of This is Not a Reading Series, presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Vintage Canada and EYE weekly.

Eggers, the author of four books, and perhaps best known for his first, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, is talking about his latest, a trade paperback edition of What is the What, a "novelized autobiography" of a Sudanese war refugee.

The event is at St Barnabas Anglican Church, 361 Danforth Ave (At Chester), Tues Nov 27, 8pm (doors 7:30pm) Tickets $5 at Pages Books & Magazines (you have to pick them up yourself; no phone or online orders). For more information, This Is Not A Reading Series: Chris Reed, (416)598-1447,

[Thanks to Maria Amuchastequi for reminding us of this.]

Friday, November 23, 2007

National Magazine Awards board approves substantial changes

Substantial changes to the National Magazine Awards has been unanimously approved by the board of the National Magazine Awards Foundation at its November meeting. The changes address concerns, both large and small, raised by editors, including those at the big publishers.

A letter detailing the approved changes has gone out to the participating editors and the changes will be posted early in December on the relaunched NMAF website.

Several changes attempt to address perennial dissatisfaction about perceived short shrift given to service journalism, a mainstay of the large number of women's service magazines in this country. As well, a number of clarifications have been made about who or what is eligible for some categories and the board has instituted an open call for judges to begin in fall 2008.

Among the category changes, effective with this year's awards:

  • The two new categories are
    • Editorial Packaging for a single service article
    • Best short feature
  • To accommodate those new categories, the definition for the existing Words & Pictures category has been modified to reflect that entries there are intended to tell a story, while entries in the new category must be instructional.
  • The visual judging panels will be instructed to recognize that the Homes & Gardens category is a service-driven, rather than a photojournalistic category.
  • Greater distinction is being made between Service and How-to categories. Service is defined as informational; how-to as "instructional". Articles submitted to How-to may not be entered in Service categories.
  • The limit of one Editorial Package entry per magazine has been raised to three, reflecting that some magazines do a lot of these. (The limit of three is an attempt to keep a limit on the judging load.)
  • Profiles have been redefined to include families, couples, teams or groups as well as individuals.
Among the process changes:
  • Written magazine mandates and target audience statement will now be mandatory for all entries (made easier by the electronic entry process).
  • In addition to the normal recruitment efforts, there will be an open call for judging nominations, beginning in fall 2008; nominees will be reviewed by the judging committee and judging coordinator as usual.
NMAF President Kim Pittaway said in the letter:
I want to thank all of you who participated in our conversations for your candor, thoughtfulness and on-going commitment to the Awards program. The NMAF Board and Judging Committee are committed to ensuring that our program reflects and rewards the best of our industry’s creative efforts, and your input has been essential to assisting us in those efforts.

Cigar Report lights up

For every subject, there is a magazine. And in some subject areas, hope springs eternal, despite past experience. Those who remember Cigar Aficianado and Milton, big ticket, lavish titles that celebrated (among other things) the joys of a big stogie, will wonder at the wellspring of hope that is being tapped by the launch of the rather blandly named Cigar Report.

The title will have an initial circulation of 377,000 and is published by Doubledown Media. What gives it more likelihood of success is that it targets the high end readers of Doubledown's other titles such as Trader Monthly, Dealmaker, Corporate Leader and Private Air.

According to a story in MediaDaily News, the first issue includes a cover story titled "Straight to the Top," about the growing popularity of Dominican cigars, as well as an interview with Jimmy Smits, the cigar-loving star of "Cane" on CBS. It also features guides to cigar-friendly venues in cities around the world, recommendations for well-heeled (and cigar-friendly) resort destinations, and advice about transporting them when traveling abroad, such as buying a $69,000 Louis Vuitton cigar steamer trunk.

While some of this content is aspirational, the magazine makes room for many of the obvious co-branding opportunities. In short, there's ample advertising by whiskey makers, luxury carmakers, watchmakers, and condominium developers.

The magazine is also planning to hold a series of branded events, called "The Wall Street Smoke," in New York, Chicago, and Napa, Calif. These invitation-only events allow sponsors to reach attendees through venue signage, logos on invitations, and gift bags.

The magazine is being tested with two covers. It was launched this week with a splashy party at the Carnegie Club in New York. The magazine also has a Cigar Report Daily website. No word on its debut in Canada; probably restricted to newsstands amidst the corporate towers of Toronto and Calgary.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Not so funny. Stitches magazine closed

Stitches, a humour magazine for doctors and a companion title Stitches for Patients, were both quietly closed this summer by CLB Media, according to a story in mastheadonline (sub req'd). The reason given was that advertisers just weren't that interested.

Mainstream Observer profiles
very-un-mainstream Geez

One of the most professional and well-regarded church publications in Canada, the United Church Observer, carries in its November issue a profile of one of its hipper, much more controversial younger brethren -- the Winnnipeg-based magazine Geez. The profile is not available online at the Observer, but fortunately you can see it on the Geez site.

Writer Caley Moore writes about the magazine's founders and editors Aiden Enns and Will Braun and their "edgy and provocative tone":
Geez’s brand of mischief combines a playful sense of humour with a willingness to engage people of opposing beliefs. In the “Let’s Get Evangelical” issue, for example, Todd Friel, the host of a fundamentalist Christian radio show in California, enumerates “The Top 10 Reasons Geez gets up my nose.” By doing the unexpected, Geez “send[s] a signal that readers will be challenged,” says Braun, “that it’s not just about staying in the same rut.”

“Holy mischief” also explains the name Geez, which some Christians find offensive. Enns admits that the choice was intentionally controversial, in keeping with the magazine’s aim to “blaspheme the gods of super-powerdom,” who determine, among other things, conventional notions of propriety. In addition, the name indicates to potential readers the quarterly’s subversive take on Christianity.

Interestingly, the founders seem to be concerned that their award-winning ways (Magazine of the Year, Western Magazine Awards) may be making them too "mainstream". (Perhaps being profiled in the Observer will simply add to their concern.)

Braun said: “I don’t know that Geez has to be around forever. It’s an experiment. Once the evolutionary process dries up, we’ll move on to something else.”

Deloitte media use research shows print mags beat online mags

Deloitte, the international accounting and consulting firm has published a study on media consumption called the State of the Media Democracy Survey. The research, of course, is based on interviews with U.S. residents. Earlier this week, Gary Gluckman, head of the Canadian Media and Entertainment practice, hosted a webinar. We are grateful that blogger Jon Arnold monitored the webinar and posted some interesting highlights:
  • Consumers are spending more time on the internet than watching TV (16.6 hours a week vs. 15.2)
  • User generated content is very popular (for every two hours spent web browsing, one hour is engaged in user-generated content; among "millenials", the ratio is 50:50.)
  • Reading books is still very popular (asked what 5 things they expect to spend more time doing next year, all age ranges said reading a book rated highest after socializing with friends and family)
  • Only 10% just watch TV when watching TV ("Talk about a medium that isn't very engaging.")
  • More than 1 in 4 respondents (28%) would pay for online content that was free of advertising
  • People prefer print to online (more than twice as much time spent reading printed newspapers and magazines than online versions; and practically nobody reads online magazines -- just half an hour a week on average.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A touch of glamour for Q & Q

Glamorous presentation is not the usual fare for Quill & Quire, the magazine for the book and library trade. But their December number has a very VF/GQ kind of look about it, with three Canlit stars featured in the special Books of the Year issue: Writer and actor Sean Dixon, million-seller Kenneth Oppel, and memoirist Marina Nemat. They scrub up nice.

Almanac sells out 100,000 copies

Harrowsmith Country Life's venture into publishing a Canadian almanac has been so successful that the first, 100,000 printing, has sold out and a second printing is being done for the Christmas market, according to a story in mastheadonline (sub req'd).

See our earlier post on this.

Mags asked what -- if any -- changes they'd like in competition and investment policy

Should we be commenting and what should we be saying? That's the question that Magazines Canada is putting to its members; to advise it about the potentially far-ranging review that the federal government is conducting about foreign investment and competition policies.

A bulletin has gone out to Magazines Canada's 350 consumer magazine member titles asking for comment by November 30 on some of the following questions:
  • Should the foreign investment regime change or stay as is?
  • If it should change, what amendments should Magazines Canada recommend and how would they further Canada’s cultural policy goals?
  • Should Magazines Canada make a submission to the panel on behalf of the sector?
A federal panel has released a discussion paper called Sharpening Canada’s Competitive Edge and will be receiving written submissions until January 11 as well as meeting with interested groups.

Under the current federal policy and the Investment Canada Act, foreign acquisition of Canadian-owned and Canadian-controlled periodical publishing businesses is not permitted and government policy is designed to ensure the production of majority Canadian editorial content if a business intents to produce or sell periodicals here or sell advertising in periodicals.

Although it doesn't refer specifically to the Canadian magazine industry, the panel has posed some questions that, depending on how they are answered, might have a major impact:
1. What changes, if any, are required to Canada’s sectoral investment regimes to minimize or eliminate negative impacts on Canada’s competitiveness?
2. What have been the impacts of these investment regimes on productivity and competitiveness in the specific sectors?
3. Are there alternative mechanisms that would achive the non-economic policy objectives of the sector while also ensuring maximum competitiveness of firms operating in the sector?
Magazines Canada has referred its members to two background documents:

Though MC members are being asked to e-mail their responses to President Mark Jamison (,there's probably no restriction on non-members giving him their views. There are certainly no restrictions on sending comments directly to the federal panel.

Recommendations the panel may make could substantially change the competitive landscape for Canadian magazines. For instance, the purchase of major Canadian publishing groups by larger U.S. firms. Or the removal of restrictions on competition in the advertising services field.

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Immediacy online, depth in print: the inevitable future of b-to-b publishing

The power of web publishing is inexorably moving strong business to business print brands to reduce their print frequency and making up the difference with beefed-up news and opinion online. In magazine-related circles in Canada, Marketing did just this and so did the magazine industry trade magazine Masthead. Now, Adweek magazine in the U.S. has announced that it is reducing its weekly to 36 issues annually.
"While our magazine continues to be an essential element of this iconic, multi-platform brand, we are moving with our audience by relaunching to maximize the value we provide our community—delivering the most robust content in the industry 24/7 replete with exclusive Nielsen data. In addition, we will publish 36 print issues next year, beginning in the first quarter of 2008, and continue to engage the community through our events and forums," [said Sabrina Crow, senior vice president of the media and marketing group at Nielsen Business Media].


Quebecor World's troubles continue; refinancing plan withdrawn

What if you want to sell, but nobody wants to buy? This situation has apparently happened again to Quebecor World, the giant printing arm of Quebecor Inc. which is also Quebec's largest publisher of consumer magazines.

According to a report by The Canadian Press, Quebecor World has withdrawn an ambitious refinancing plan (see earlier post) that it announced only a week ago, in which it had planned to sell about $250 million of shares and about $500 million in restructured or new corporate debt. But it apparently found insufficient demand. (A similar thing happened last August.) The result may be that the company will have to look at other ways to raise money, including selling assets.

The company has enough money until July, when its bank facility reduces by $250 million to $500 million, said Jamie Wetmore, senior financial analyst with DBRS, a leading ratings agency.

"They don't have a lot of head room but they are probably OK in the immediate term."

The ratings agency said the company's liquidity issues could intensify if it fails to refinance all or portions of its credit facilities by the first half of 2008. Its weak financial position could also lead to a reduced ability to execute on contract wins and improve its core business.
Concerns about the ability to refinance debt and weak quarterly results contributed to a large sell off of Quebecor World shares last week and this.
As of Wednesday morning, Quebecor World shares were selling for $2.29. A year ago, they were $17.25.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Adbusters' "Buy Nothing Day" going stronger after 15 years

Buy Nothing Day, an idea that was hatched by Adbusters magazine of Vancouver 15 years ago has grown over the years into an international movement. For instance, Ethical Consumer magazine in Britain is urging its readers to "detoxify from consumerism" by buying absolutely nothing on Saturday, November 24 (in North America, the day is being observed on Friday, November 23). The Adbusters' release about the 2007 event is here.

Mobile newsstand allows thumbnails of magazines to be browsed

If what you really want is to read a magazine on a teeny screen, then Zinio, the digital magazine providers, are your guys. They have launched the Mobile Newsstand with which you can browse, free of charge, some of their top titles (almost exclusively U.S.) on your iPhone and iPod Touch. (Of course that would require iPhone service to be widely available in Canada.)

Scouts and St. Joe's renew tree planting agreement

Scouts Canada and St. Joseph Communications, one of Canada's leading private printing and magazine publishing firms have renewed an agreement for tree-planting for a further five years.

The collaboration, called Partners in Growth, first began in 1990 and, since then the Scouts, supported by the printing company, have planted over 2 million trees across Canada, covering 2,800 acres. For every ton of paper used on a customer's behalf,St. Joseph Communications facilitates the planting of three seedlings through Scouts Canada's Scoutrees program.

"Scouts have been reforesting our country since the 1920s and have planted over 85 million trees to date. Further, it is through our Scoutrees program that we provide our Scouting youth and adult volunteers with the hands-on opportunity to practice forestry, sustainable use of natural resources and the reclaiming of waste areas."

St. Joseph Communications is named under the agreement as the Exclusive Sponsor of its Scoutrees program. The company, in addition to being a major printer, publishes some of Canada's best known magazines including Toronto Life, Fashion magazine, Canadian Family, Wish,WHERE and Quill & Quire.

Taddle Creek to war against
apostrophe abuse

The word idiosyncratic seems to have been designed especially for Taddle Creek magazine, the semi-annual literary journal published out of Toronto. And I mean that in a nice way.

This unlikely magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary by publishing a fat, colourful issue, launching a painstakingly redesigned website and (almost a requirement for small magazines) throwing a launch party. The free party is on Wednesday, November 28th, at the Gladstone Hotel ballroom, 1214 Queen Street West in Toronto, starting at 8 p.m.

The 10th anniversary issue contains an editorial in which Editor-in-Chief Conan Tobias (who earns his daily bread as managing editor of Canadian Business magazine) serves notice on the world that henceforth letters will be sent by the magazine to "those most guilty of apostrophe misuse". (This campaign seems to have displaced or superseded the magazine's previous fixation with stamping out the use of two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence. This rule still holds true, but it is left to the magazines's stern submission style guide to keep the public prints in order.)

Taddle Creek
's submission guidelines are described in the letters page by one reader as snotty and by another as snarky and pretentious. "Why the fuck would I want to submit to a magazine that treats me like I'm a misbehaving schoolchild?," said the latter.

Well, for one thing, isn't it a pleasure to deal with a magazine whichthat knows what it's about and whose editors know what they want and which treats language and literature with such respect? (OK, that's three things.)

Canadians still prefer traditional media, but
online is gaining

A new study by for APEX PR, done by Leger Marketing among 1,517 adults across Canada, has found that Canadians still prefer traditional media sources.

The top five most credible information sources are: radio (67%), television (66%), national (66%) and regional (62%) newspapers and business magazines (52%).
"Contrary to popular doom and gloom scenarios that speak about the impending demise of newspaper and radio, Canadians were clear that these traditional media are in fact the most trusted and credible sources," said Dave Scholz, vice president of Leger Marketing.

"That said, a few years ago, podcasts and blogs would not have even been on the radar, so it is interesting to see that they have received as much attention and garnered as much credibility as they have, in such a short period of time," said Scholz.
Some of the things the study found:
  • Younger Canadians are the most likely to trust news websites as their source of information.
  • Women are more likely than men to trust national lifestyle magazines as a trusted source of information (34% to 25%).
  • Nearly one in three Canadians are using some sort of social networking site, and one in five are visiting blogs.
  • 20 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds believe a blog is a trustworthy source of information. Only 12 per cent of 25 to 34 year old and 2 per cent of 65 plus, trust social networking sites. However, Canadians as a whole are far less likely to trust information on a blog or podcast than traditional media, at 10 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.
"It's no secret that there are more information options than ever before, but what we 've learned with this study is how and why consumers are making certain choices," said Pat McNamara, president of APEX Public Relations Inc."It's clear that if we want to communicate with the public we need to understand where they get their information and how they are making decisions. We can't abandon traditional media, but we also need to understand that it's becoming increasingly vital to talk to audiences through multiple channels."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Two competing magazines about depression to launch next year

Two, competing magazines about depression are scheduled to be launched in 2008.

It has been announced by publisher Bill McPhee that Magpie Publishing Inc. of Fort Erie, Ontario will launch Anchor in 2008 (no date specified).

The announcement about Anchor is that it will be coincident with the launch next year of a magazine called Esperanza, also serving the community of interest surrounding depression. It's to be published starting in mid-February by Joanne Doan, who until recently was a 50:50 partner with McPhee in SZ and another property, BP, a largely U.S.-based magazine about bipolar disorder.

Magpie has published Schizophrenia Digest in both a U.S. and Canadian edition since 1994.

Doan had been instrumental in selling pharmaceutical company advertising in all the properties and had helped launch the U.S. edition of Schizophrenia Digest in 2003 and was masthead publisher when BP was launched in 2006. Her company is now based in Buffalo.

A partnership disagreement led to Doan striking off on her own last April (though continuing to manage sales for Schizophrenia Digest through to the fall of 2007) and taking ownership of BP, while McPhee retained ownership of Schizophrenia Digest. Doan then announced the launch of Esperanza. And now, six months later, McPhee has announced the launch of a direct competitor.

Both say their new depression magazines will have U.S. and Canadian circulation, though there are no figures yet available.


Press Review for sale

If you want to own your own small magazine, Press Review is for sale for $15,000. The widow of the founding publisher Mike Cassidy is offering the magazine to "a visionary who would see the potential of this publication and keep her late husband's legacy alive".

Press Review is described as "Canada's premier magazine specializing in media issues". It is distributed by controlled distribution to a national mailing database consisting of 2,500 media and public relations and to more than 4,000 media professionals, journalism schools, corporate and government communications representatives in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

In 2006, it had revenues of $40,000. A package of information is available on request to Press Review, (416) 366-0104,; or Mark Borkowski, (416) 368-8466 x 232, Mergers &Acquisitions at

Google patents customization of
magazine content

Information is making the rounds that Google has received a U.S. patent on a process that would allow end users to customize magazines and have content and relevant ads delivered over the web or printed out for them at convenient kiosks similar to photo processing kiosks in drugstores and department stores.

The patent was granted to Google on November 8 and is entitled "Customization of Content and Advertisements in Publications."

Google's application pointed out its perception of shortcomings in existing print magazines, including imprecision (that is, that ads don't always work and readers sometimes find content they don't like or don't care about).

Consumers may purchase a variety of publications in various forms, e.g., print form (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books, etc.), electronic form (e.g., electronic newspapers, electronic books ("e-Books"), electronic magazines, etc.), etc. The publishers define the content of such publications, and advertisers define which advertisements (ads) may be seen in the publications. Since consumers have no control over publication content or advertisements, they may purchase a publication that contains at least some content and advertisements that may be of no interest to them.

Publishers often lack insight into the profiles of consumers who purchase their publications, and, accordingly, miss out on subscription and advertisement revenue due to a lack of personalized content and advertisements. Likewise, consumer targeting for advertisers is limited, and there is virtually no standardization for ad sizes (e.g., an ad that is supposed to be a full page may need to be reduced in size to fit within a publication). Accordingly, advertisers sometimes purchase sub-optimal or worthless ad space in an attempt to reach their target markets. Advertisers also have difficulty identifying new prospective market segments to target because they have limited insight into the desires and reactions of consumers.

There's a long road between getting a patent and realizing its potential. And other content providers and advertisers in other media besides magazines have reason to be concerned, too.

But some commentators have pointed out that, by getting the patent, Google may effectively forestall established magazines from allowing their own users to customize and receive content in print or electronically in a similar way. Either there could be a claim of copyright infringement or magazine publishers might be forced to pay Google a license fee to customize their own magazines for their own customers.

Thanks to for the report. We also saw variations and commentary in a number of other blogs and websites.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cover story: how Metro will sell anything

Thanks to veteran freelancer David Hayes for his post on the Toronto freelance editors and writers listserv about the recent issue of Metro, the free commuter daily that is distributed in Toronto (and elsewhere). As Hayes says in his message to fellow freelancers: "Sell-outs don’t get much more blatant than this."

In a world where everything seems to be for sale, a publication's integrity is simply a commodity, apparently. An underwear company can buy the front page position on the assumption that it is a "wrap" and therefore not the "real" front page. However, by putting the publication's logo prominently on the ad, Metro is essentially saying that this publication is all about the advertiser's, rather than the reader's, needs.

Ads have crept onto the front pages of newspapers more and more, mostly in the form of "zippers" across the bottom and "ears" up around the logo, although at least some expectation is that the readers will know what is paid advertising and what is news.

Had Metro been a magazine, which it's not, it would have been flagrantly in contravention of the (albeit voluntary) ad:edit guidelines published by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors and Magazines Canada. As it is, it should simply be ashamed of itself for not only not observing the line between ads and editorial, but for having erased it altogether.

Free and online mags win big at British editors' awards

Sport, a free magazine given away to commuters won the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) award for launch of the year. And "innovation of the year" went to Dennis Publishing's online only Monkey magazine. This, according to a report in UK Press Gazette, which includes a full list of winners.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cycle Canada said to have closed owners deny it is closing

[UPDATE -- According to Masthead magazine, the owners of Cycle Canada magazine deny the magazine has been closed or is about to suspend publication. The November/December issue is on newsstands, says LC Media, and a January issue is due to go on press.

[While the magazine's website has been moribund since August, the magazine is apparently used receivership to get out from under some significant debt. The Masthead story says that LC Media recently sold shares to The Fédération des travailleurs du Québec (FTQ), a federation that funds Quebec companies on the verge of bankruptcy. LC Media then made a proposal to its creditors, offering them a severance fee in order to relieve its debt. The creditors voted in favour of the proposal on Nov. 8 and a judge will decide on whether to approve the proposal on Nov. 30.

[Costa Mouzouris, editor of Cycle Canada, acknowledged that confidence in the magazine has suffered. “The challenge will be to show our advertisers that we are still going strong,” Mouzouris told Masthead. “Their confidence has been shaken.”]

Word is that Cycle Canada magazine is suspending or has suspended publication. The 36-year-old title which covered touring, cycling, off-road and dual-sport and featured reviews and product tests, is published by Turbopress Inc. with official headquarters in Toronto, but also offices in Brossard, Quebec and a sales office in Montreal. Subscriptions are no longer being accepted on its website and the last issue of the magazine was apparently in August.

The company's last audited circulation statement showed 23,781 average qualified. It sold about 3,300 copies on the newsstand.


Stuffy is out, says Reeves; that's why House & Garden folded

Lynda Reeves, the doyenne of the highly successful Canadian House & Home magazine says in an article for the Westcoast Homes section of the Vancouver Sun that the announced closure of the century-old House & Garden magazine in the U.S. reflects subsantially changing attitudes to home design and decor.
When Condé Nast announced this week that House & Garden, the venerable magazine of American design and decorating, was being put to bed, friends called to congratulate me and our team at House & Home. To them, it meant one less magazine competing on American and Canadian newsstands, and for many of the same advertising dollars.

In fact, it's sad when a respected competitor dies. But more importantly, to me the announcement just amplified the change in design and decorating that has been coming on strong for several years. "Serious" is out. Overdone, overpriced and, most of all, over-decorated rooms are fast becoming obsolete.
Decorating has changed, she says, and is more eclectic and freewheeling:
You can go into the most expensive homes in Canada and find important art and antiques sitting happily beside a great chair from Ikea. "Stuffy" is out. Witty and wonderful is in. You may be decorating yourself or you may be hiring a designer, but either way, you're involved, hunting down accessories and researching online finds.

Quebecor World stock down 41% in a week, facing refinancing challenge

Quebecor World, the printing core of Quebecor Inc., which is Quebec's largest consumer magazine publisher, has had a heckuva week, or a heckuva month to think of it.
  • It announced it would sell a total of $778 million worth of additional shares and debt securities to investors and to its controlling shareholder, Quebecor Inc. , in a refinancing of its debt and credit facilities. On Tuesday it said that it would be selling up to $213 million worth of its subordinate voting shares to the public through a syndicate of underwriters. It would also be selling about $400 million of new unsecured notes and $100 million of unsecured convertible debentures.
  • Rating agencies promptly downgraded the company and put it on a credit watch.
  • The company's stock price lost ground all week and Friday at one point lost almost 23% of its value and was down 41% for the week and more than 66% for the month.
  • Banks have forced Quebecor World to reduce its credit facility, from a high of $1 billion, worried about its ability to raise cash.
  • Quebecer World's high rating profile - DBRS gave a rating of B with negative trend - makes refinancing complicated and expensive.
  • The company lost US$315 million in the third quarter as revenue declined to $1.41 billion, mainly the result of writedowns of its European printing operations.
  • This on the heels of its November 7 announcement that it is selling its perennially troubled European printing business in a deal valued at US$341 million, retaining a minority ownership in a new company to be called Roto Smeets Quebecor.
Jamie Wetmore, senior financial analyst for DBRS said in an interview with The Canadian Press, that not only are there concerns about the look-ahead for the industry, but about the company's liquidity. "In terms of financing, there still is the question about whether or not they can even get it done in these markets.

"If they can't get the financing done, the liquidity issues remain significant."

(Even more alarming, Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs wrote in a report that a global credit crunch may force lenders to cut the outlays available by up to US$2 trillion, triggering a "substantial recession" in the U.S, where Quebecor World has a substantial part of its holdings.)


Friday, November 16, 2007

Quill & Quire provides free news clearinghouse on book pricing parity

Quill & Quire magazine, which serves the book trade and libraries, has launched a new, online resource to help publishers and retailers keep up with the complex and fast-moving news about price parity. For the past year and a half, as the loonie has climbed ever higher against the U.S. dollar, consumers have demanded that the disparity between Canadian and U.S. book prices be corrected. Retailers and publishers alike have been struggling to find ways to respond that's fair to the public but doesn't lose their shirts.
“This is the biggest story to hit the Canadian book industry in years,” said Derek Weiler, editor of Q&Q. “As the leader in publishing reporting and analysis, Quill & Quire is in a unique position to inform readers and book-lovers on all aspects of the issue.”
The magazine has launched a website, which is free to the public that includes a full archive of Q&Q’s past coverage of the issue along with breaking news. It went live on Friday at

The ad supplements that ate Toronto Life

Torontoist, a popular blog about all things Toronto, has had it with the baggage that comes with every issue of Toronto Life magazine. In a post today, Mark Lostracco says that while he thinks the subscription price is worth every penny, the magazine's heavy burden of advertising ride-alongs and inserts is too much.
Subscription card "fly-ins" and heavy-stock ad inserts are extremely unpopular with readers, but those snot-glued supplements are incredibly lucrative, with advertisers able to attach anything from promotional DVDs to shampoo samples. Obviously, this is incredibly disruptive to the reading experience unless the consumer sifts through the magazine before reading to shake out subscription cards and tear away thick, folded perfume strips. In the case of Toronto Life's December issue, the additional advertising supplements are thicker than the actual magazine when piled side-by-side.

Packaged and mailed inside a plastic bag, the majority of the bulk comes from faux "magazines" like Vintages and Abode, which are impeccably-designed and printed on quality stock. Abode, for example, is laid-out very intentionally to confuse consumers into thinking that it's one of Toronto Life's useful monthly CityGuide magazines (which are also included in the subscription package). The LCBO's expensive Vintages supplement features three pages of fold-outs—closing the thing is a sisyphean task worthy only of those with the longest of fuses.


Changes in Commons committee
on Canadian Heritage

The makeup of the committee that oversees the Department of Canadian Heritage (home to the Canada Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program, plus various other funding for the magazine industry) has changed with the new Parliament.

For one thing, Charlie Angus, the outspoken New Democratic Party critic and member for Timmins - James Bay, is out, replaced by Bill Siksay from British Columbia, the NDP housing critic who retains his housing duties and his role as critic for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual and Transgender issues. The actual announcement of Siksay's appointment was made September 27.

(In 2006, the Toronto Star chose Angus as one of the 10 most effective members of the opposition.)

According to a story in Playback magazine, Gary Schellenberger, the Conservative MP representing the Perth-Wellington constituency in Ontario, was re-elected Thursday as chair of the all-party standing committee and Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, first vice-chair and Bloc Québécois MP Maria Mourani second vice-chair.

New faces on the committee are Bloc MP Luc Malo (who replaces Maka Kotto, who had been first vice-chair during the previous session), Conservative MP Dave Batters and Mourani.

Also not returning to the committee are Bloc MP Diane Bourgeois and Conservative MP Chris Warkentin.

It's a guy thing; European men's magazines being eclipsed by web

Men's magazines are in a severe slump in Europe, according to a Reuters story out of an investors conference call on Tuesday. Leading European publishers are coming to terms with the fact that the web is an irresistible lure for men and teenage boys, at the expense of printed magazines.
"They are a casualty of the Internet. That is for sure," Dominique D'Hinnin, Chief Financial Officer of French media group Lagardere told investors. " "It is men's magazines that I am talking about, magazines with women with not too many clothes."

Major magazine publishers such as London-based media group Emap, Germany's Axel Springer and France's Lagardere have seen magazine assets for women surging while men's magazines droop.

Steffan Naumann, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Axel Springer said segments such as those catering for women are growing, "but in Germany, certainly not the men's market category".

On Tuesday, London-based Emap said first-half underlying revenue in its consumer magazines division fell 6 percent.

However, this masked a strong performance by its women's weekly titles such as Grazia, Heat and Closer which grew 6 percent. Emap blamed a 14 percent slump in its portfolio of monthly magazines on weakness in men's titles.

Although men's magazines can and do still make money, publishers also have to decide if they should sell assets or reposition themselves in digital media by building Web sites that primarily focus on content such as fishing, golf and cars, the conference call was told.

D'Hinnin said such options as YouTube and web video services such as Dailymotion from France provide scantily clad women and joke-based content for teenagers and college boys for free.

"On the Internet it is easier to get, more fun and (young men) spend so much time with YouTube or Dailymotion they don't buy magazines any more," D'Hinnin said.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Torstar takes the long view with transition at Metroland

The outcome of an orderly succession planning at the giant Metroland Group division of Torstar Inc. results in Ian Oliver, the publisher of the Hamilton Spectator and executive vice-president of Metroland Media Group stepping into the presidency, succeeding Murray Skinner. According to a company release, Skinner, who worked for Metroland and Torstar for 32 years, steps down effective July 1, 2008. In the meantime, he and Oliver will work together on a transition.

Metroland Media Group dominates the publication of community and daily newspapers in Ontario and particularly in the Golden Horseshoe. Oliver, in addition to his duties with the Spec, heads the Metroland West Group, which includes 3 daily newspapers, The Hamilton Spectator, The Record and Guelph Mercury, more than 15 Community Newspapers, including the Oakville Beaver and Burlington Post; one of Canada's largest shows groups, Premier Consumer Shows; a specialty publication division; a magazine division; and 4 print facilities.

The magazine division includes Forever Young, City Parent, The Car Guide, the Boat Guide, eye weekly, East of the City, Boating Business, Real Estate News, and The Business Times.

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Why don't journalists get residuals?

Albert Kim, a blogger with Huffington Post, raises an intriguing question, sparked by the U.S. writer's guild strike which is, as he points out, about payment for re-use and use in other media; residuals in other words. Why, he asks, don't writers for magazines get residuals?
The premise behind residuals is simple enough. Writers create stories and turn them over to companies who use them to make money. When those companies reuse that creative content to make more money -- think reruns, international sales, home video and such--the writers get cut in on that new revenue. The equation is so obvious and fair-minded that no one, not even the producers, is arguing that there shouldn't be residuals. The fight is over just how much money should be shared.
He answers his own question, pointing out that "work for hire" makes writing created while the writer was on staff and working on the clock, is the proprietor's property. And none of this applies to freelancers who sell one-time rights; except, as Kim points out, publishers tend to pressure freelancers to get paid the same, but sign away their subsidiary rights.
But even though work-for-hire is legal -- outlined by the Copyright Act of 1976 -- that doesn't necessarily mean it's fair. In recent days, spurred on by the WGA strike, everyone from labor relations experts to software engineers have begun debating its merits and failings. And keep in mind, in the old days screenwriters were full-time employees of the studios and had no ownership stake in their works. It was only after the scribes unionized and fought back did they win royalty rights.


Access Copyright sues Staples for $10 million for copyright infringement

Staples / Business Depot, the largest office supply chain in Canada and the Canadian arm of a giant U.S. office supply super store chain Staples, is being sued by Access Copyright for $10 million for copyright infringement because of unauthorized -- uncompensated -- photocopying by store customers.

A Canadian Press story about the suit was carried today by the Toronto Star. Access says it is the largest such claim over copyright infringement in Canada.

Staples /Business Depot is the and most stores operate business centres where the public can access dozens of pay-per-copy photocopiers.

"Staples/Business Depot is a sizable, for-profit organization that has built part of its business through a lucrative service that exploits the published works of authors, photographers and publishers," Access Copyright said in a release.

"Companies that photocopy illegally are effectively taking money directly out of the pockets of creators and publishers who depend on book sales and copyright royalties for their livelihood."

Companies that profit from illegal photocopying "are undermining the work of others," said Maureen Cavan, executive director of Access Copyright.

The story said Access Copyright, which represents the rights of some 9,000 writers and publishers across Canada, had been trying since 1998 to get Staples to pay attention to concerns raised by creators and publishers.

"Despite repeated attempts by Access Copyright to reach a settlement and come to an amicable resolution, Staples/Business Depot has made no perceivable changes to their business practices."

Magazines Canada launches 18-month planning calendar

Magazines Canada has launched an 18-month planning calendar, which should prove useful to keep industry events from banging into each other and help organizers to avoid conflicts. It's a simple month-by-month grid in which Magazines Canada events are in red and other industry events are in blue, each event with a web link. People in the business who want events included should send their information to Communications Manager Audrey Gagnon.


Freelance union members number 400,
says organizer

The Canadian Freelance Union drive may be coming to life, though the sign up so far is about 400, according to the key organizer. That's not much more than the union was claiming in February. During an exchange on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers (TFEW) listserv, Michael OReilly admits that he has been disappointed by the uptake.
My greatest fear in all this is that the market is right; that freelancers really do deserve to make $24,000 per year (on average). The lacklustre response to the CFU membership drive, added to my past 15 years experience of fighting for the rights of writers, lead my to the occasional dark night of the soul where I wonder if "they" are correct. If freelancers are so unwilling to fight for their rights, then perhaps the market really is right.

Ah well, back to the trenches...
OReilly said he hoped to make some announcements soon, including about a benefits package (that is affordable and real), a member advocacy service, a hiring hall, and an inaugural conference. Freelancers can sign up for $25, which is put in escrow pending the official launch.

Here are a series of earlier posts about the CFU.


If summoned, I will testify, says investigative writer Stevie Cameron

Author, former magazine editor (Elm Street) and magazine writer (Maclean's) Stevie Cameron says if journalists are called to testify during the forthcoming judicial inquiry into the Mulroney/Schreiber/Airbus situation, she expects to be at the top of the list, according to a story in the Montreal Gazette.

No journalist has pursued the story more doggedly than veteran investigative reporter Cameron, who has written extensively about the relationship between the two men for various publications and in two bestselling books, On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years and The Last Amigo: Karlheinz Schreiber and the Anatomy of a Scandal, which she co-wrote with CBC producer Harvey Cashore.

"I think the only one he [Mulroney] really wants to get at is me," she said in an interview yesterday.

She said she'd only be able to testify if the book publishers and publications for which she reported the story were prepared to cover her legal expenses.

"I don't think journalists will be testifying. I don't think Brian Mulroney is going to be allowed to determine the scope of this inquiry. But it's a brilliant strategy. He's going to try to delay, delay, delay. You'll have teams of lawyers arguing to keep reporters out of it."

Cameron said much of the story remains to be told, and that the inquiry should focus on where the millions of dollars went that Schreiber was given by European industrial interests to secure Canadian government contracts....

Cameron suggested that the crucial mistake for Mulroney was when his spokesman Luc Lavoie called Schreiber "the biggest liar the world has ever seen" in response to Schreiber's allegation a year ago that Mulroney never provided any services for the money he was paid.

"That was when Schreiber knew Brian Mulroney was no friend of his. That turned everything around."

Spafax Inc. wins six Pearl awards for custom publishing

Spafax Inc. of Montreal, publishers of enRoute magazine, has been awarded two gold and four bronze awards -- at the annual competition of the Custom Publishing Council in New York. Redwood Custom Communications won a silver and bronze as did Transcontinental Media and Rogers Publishing Limited won a silver.

The 4th annual Pearl awards were presented to an audience of 140 custom publishing executives by Dr. Samir Husni, chair, Journalism Department at University of Mississippi and Mediabistro founder Laurel Touby. The winners were selected out of a total 572 entries.

Unlike traditional magazine awards, custom publication awards have a number of unusual categories, including "best achievement of corporate objectives" or "best proof of return on investment".

The Canadian winners:

Spafax Inc.
  • Gold for for best cover design for a magazine with less than 250,000 circulation to in magazine, LAN Airlines (tie with McMurry Publishing)
  • Gold for best overall design, more than 250,000 circulation for Pure Canada, Canadian Tourism Commission
  • Bronze for best overall design 50,000 to 250,000 for in
  • Bronze for best use of photography less than 250,000 for enRoute, Air Canada
  • Bronze for best overall editorial 50,000 to 250,000 for enRoute, Air Canada
  • Bronze for best proof of return on investment for onAir, Air Canada
Redwood Custom Communications
  • Silver, most improved design more than 250,000, New Outlook, Sears Canada
  • Bronze, best use of photography more than 250,000, Rouge, Procter & Gamble (this was done by a division of Redwood, Javelin Custom Publishing)
Transcontinental Media
  • Silver, design of best new publication/magazine for Cellier, Societe des Alcools du Quebec
  • Bronze, best new publication/magazine, Cellier (tied with Rodale Custom Publishing, You 24, 24 Hour Fitness)
Rogers Publishing
  • Silver, best achievement of corporate objectives, URmagazine, Rogers Wireless (tie with Time Inc. Content Solutions, Merrill Lynch Advisor)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Split run cover pricing being used to evade dollar parity for magazines

Ever since the loonie soared to parity and beyond, compared with the U.S. greenback, Canadian purchasers have been demanding at least dollar parity, and quite rightly.

At first, retailers wound up eating the difference to keep customers sweet. Then, it seemed, publishers were grudgingly moving to get rid of the old "5.99 CAN, $4.99 US" cover prices. This would mean Canadian and U.S. purchasers of U.S. books and magazines would be paying roughly the same price.

But a friend of the blog tells us that at least one U.S. publishing company is now running two covers. The Canadian cover says "$5.99"; the American cover reads "$4.99" and Canadians continue to pay more, albeit secretly.

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Right on the money

One person's opinion: Mother Jones's November/December issue has a great cover.