Friday, May 30, 2008

Canada Post intent on implementing distance-based pricing

(Even at the risk of treating readers like postal nerds and overloading them with the minutiae of postal policy and politics, we think this is an important issue for the delivery of magazines. So bear with us.)

Canada Post seems intent on moving to "distance based pricing" for Publications Mail starting in 2009, no matter what its customers say. Until now, it has cost the same to mail a magazine across the country as it did to mail it across town.

Already this year, Canada Post has laid the groundwork by requiring that publishers using Letter Carrier Presort (LCP) have had to declare local, regional and national volumes for their mailings.

The post office said customers would be allowed time to "assess the new structure" and therefore the earliest the new system would come in was 2009. Well, the customers have assessed it and they don't like it. But it looks like they're going to get it anyway. Magazines Canada is lobbying on this, but it is fighting a war on several fronts, given that it is also trying to deal with the jeopardy threatening the Canada Magazine Fund and the possible disappearance of the Publications Assistance Program.

Knowledgeable sources in the industry say that over all costs in 2009 are expected to go up by about 4% for regional and perhaps as much as 8% for national presorts. For every 2%, this increase represents about $0.01 on an average $0.50 cost of mailing a magazine. It shouldn't be assumed that this won't affect smaller magazines because some of them strive, against the odds, for every economy by trying to use the LCP presort.

The most direct impact on small publishers may well be to decide they simply can't be bothered with LCP anymore. Their often rudimentary software programs may not be able to provide the 11 subtotals necessary when filling out statements of mailing, so they do what -- start using a mailing house if they were doing it themselves? Switch to costlier NDG if indeed hitherto they were trying to prepare their own LCP mailings? Send everything out at the National LCP rates?

For larger magazines, the new policy would help some and hurt others; whether it is a wash for a big company like Rogers or Transcontinental is unknown. We somehow doubt it.

Magazines which already stop at sorting at the NDG level -- which already effectively is structured as distance-based pricing (cheap local, steps up for regional and national)-- are probably not going to notice as big a difference.

In the L/N/R formula, ostensibly created to more closely match prices to costs, there is no price reduction planned for low-cost "local" delivery, to offset the price increases for costly "regional" or "national", so it's just another way of increasing Canada Post's prices.

This creates a conundrum for some kinds of magazines. For instance, a company like Canada Wide (BC Business) prints and mails its magazines in Ontario, but delivers mostly to BC addresses. And should Toronto Life and Saltscapes, since they are largely regional, be expected to carry part of the load for The Beaver or Canadian Geographic, which have far-flung and diffuse circulations?

One of the bigger questions is whether printers/mailing houses will be adversely affected ... e.g. if Canada Wide has a good printing or mailing contract with an Ontario-based company, then will the increased postage cost under L/R/N pricing be significant enough to cause them to reconsider using a BC-based printer/mailer?

As an industry, magazines some years ago started taking for granted Canada Post's increased dedication to basing Publications Mail pricing on its attributable direct costs. Within living memory, the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) picked up the difference between those costs and a fixed rate per copy. But around the time when Canada Post started trying to analyse its costs more precisely, PAP also got changed to a percentage-based formula, with a sliding scale percentage relating to size of mailing. That put the onus on the mag industry to try and help Canada Post reduce the cost of mailing a magazine (and we stepped up to try and oblige), but it also means that nowadays, since Canada Post has decided they need to keep raising PubMail prices to maintain profitability by mail category, publishers take it on the chin each time.

(Of course PAP is under review and is probably going to disappear within a year as a separate support program...but that's a story for another day.)

It's not as though magazine publishers can respond to all of this by charging for subscriptions based on distance. We can't charge out-of-province subscribers more than in-province subscribers, so it's not like we can match our pricing with our costs either.

Related Posts:
[UPDATE: Big changes at Canada Post [Magazines Canada bulletin to members]

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Extreme makeover at U.S. TV Guide
seems to be working

The decision by TV Guide in the U.S. to not follow the Canadian TV Guide lead and dump print in favour of online, seems to have paid off. A story in MediaDaily News says that, after 15 consecutive quarters of losses, the wholly revamped magazine returned to profitability during the first quarter.
"I don't think anybody has ever done this before," publisher Scott Crystal boasted of the magazine's extreme makeover. "I can't think of any magazine that has scrapped the core product and rolled out an entirely new one, with a completely new editorial form and a different audience profile."

The magazine switched format, from a digest to a full-sized magazine, switched content from primarily listings to a gossipy celebrity approach, and switched audiences by concentrating on a slimmed down rate base (3.2 million from 9 million) focussed almost entirely on young women.

Building on a small base at first, the story said, ad pages continue to grow by double digits almost three years later. In 2007, they rose 23% to 1,138, and in the first quarter of 2008 they grew 10.9% to 281.
The good news release may well be part of a "tune-up" of the print title in order to sell it.

Parenting mag loyalty program offers cash back on online purchases

That scrunching sound comes as magazines squeeze more tightly the integration between print, online, social networking and marketing (see the post below); another example in the U.S. is a decision by 2nd place Parenting magazine (Bonniers), reported in MediaWeek.

The magazine is offering a new loyalty program whereby registered readers get rebates or discounts on purchases with leading online retailers. Not at all coincidentally, Parenting will then use the buying data to sell online advertising.
The program, called Parenting Privileges and managed by loyalty marketing firm Affinity Solutions, gives Parenting subscribers money back when they spend with certain online retailers. Subscribers sign up at, and from there can visit a range of online retailers including, and

When they connect to the retailers via the site, subscribers can receive a percentage of the purchase of certain items. The reward comes in the form of a Visa Prepaid Card, which works like a debit card, Bonnier explains. The rewards typically run from 5 percent to 7 percent, according to the site, but can go as high as 28 percent, in the case of movie tickets from AMC. As an added enticement to sign up, subscribers are offered the chance to win a week’s vacation in the Barbados if they register by July 15.
The new loyalty program more or less supercedes the Mom Connection, a conventional online research panel and is distinguished from it by the ability to automatically harvest buying pattern information.
“Our advertisers will gain valuable insight into the products and services that matter most to moms,” said Greg Schumann, vp, group publisher of Bonnier’s Parenting Group.

Labels: , opens up "family blogging centre", the website that was acquired by Rogers Publishing in 2006, has launched a free family blogging centre that gives users a customizable space that includes updates for family and friends, pictures, the capability to upload video, Smilebox scrapbooks and the ability to comment on others' writing. The blogs can be published privately (only invited users can read) or open to the general public.

According to a story in Media in Canada, more than 50 people have already signed up so far, from a new mother battling breast cancer to another who shares the daily ups and downs of life with five children. Last month, comScore recorded 114,000 unique visitors for the main site. operates separately from the Today's Parent group at Rogers, which includes

Well-respected magazine writer was one of victims in Calgary tragedy

[THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED] Of course the tragedy is that a whole family is wiped out in an apparent multiple murder-suicide in a Calgary home, but one of the five dead was not one of the family, but a talented, well-liked magazine writer named Amber Bowerman. This, according to stories in several papers, including in the National Post.

She had recently moved into the basement apartment of the house where the killings took place and was therefore in the wrong place at the wrong time. A lot of people in Alberta, where she worked, are having a hard time coming to grips with the arbitrary senselessness of her death.

She had worked for four years for Alberta Views magazine and more recently as advisor and publications editor at The Emery Weal, the student newspaper published by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) students association. In addition, she was a frequent freelance writer for the RedPoint Media Group in Calgary, including Avenue magazine, CalgaryInc magazine and Up! magazine. She had just completed a story that is due to appear in the June issue of Calgary Inc.

""She was an extremely talented writer," said Holly Kerr, director of marketing and communications with RedPoint Media, who dealt with Ms. Bowerman's work. "Our staff is actually having a lot of trouble dealing with this, we're all kind of reeling."

[UPDATE] "Personally, I thought Amber was just a fabulous person," Colleen Seto, executive director of the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, told CBC News.

"She always had a smile on her face. Always really positive and thoughtful. I can't imagine how her family are feeling right now."

Bowerman family spokesperson Ian Busby told CBC News the family is "devastated."

"It's hard to imagine this happening in anybody's family," he said.

"The troubling thing about how this is affecting everybody is she was one of those people that everybody sort of knows even if they don't know her by name. And they all know her as that wonderful person that's always, you know, cheery and bright."

He said Bowerman had described the home as a nice place to live, with a nice, normal family.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Edible Vancouver quarterly launching

A husband and wife team from Vancouver, Debbra Mikaelsen and Philip Solman are to launch Edible Vancouver this month, the second Canadian edition in a growing network of 44 "Edible" titles across North America. (Edible Toronto launched last September.)

The new magazine, which is published under license from Edible Communities will be published quarterly and will distribute 20,000 free copies to metro Vancouver and surrounding communities; a mailed subscription costs $28. A full page ad costs $2,400.
“We’re all about connecting people with the source of their food, getting people to start to think a little bit more about where their food is coming from,” editor Mikaelsen told Masthead. (Solman is handling ad sales.)


Hugh Dow moves to chair of M2 Universal agency

There's a subtle, but meaningful shift in one of Canada's largest ad agencies as the ubiquitous Hugh Dow moves up from president to chairman of M2 Universal to be succeeded by Sara Hill. Dow has been a senior statesman in the ad community that befits his 34 year career, the last 18 of which he has headed M2Universal (originally called Initiative and, before that MacLaren Advertising).

According to a story in Media in Canada, Hill has held a number of increasingly senior positions at M2, most recently as SVP/MD, overseeing the company's General Motors account. She started her media career at MacLaren Advertising in 1979.

"Hugh Dow has provided exceptional leadership of our Canadian operation for over 34 years," comments Nick Brien, worldwide CEO of parent company Universal McCann. "M2 Universal is truly world-class in its approach to innovative communications. I am confident that Sara Hill will be able to continue the momentum and industry profile that have been so important to M2 Universal's success."

Adds Dow: "My global responsibilities will continue to provide an entirely new dimension to our Canadian approach to business. I've worked closely with Sara Hill for close to 30 years, and I can't think of anyone better to be entrusted with leading M2 Universal."

Hill says she is "very excited about my new role as president, and confident the transition will be seamless. The support I've received from colleagues and clients is inspiring. M2 Universal is an exceptional company, and I feel privileged to be able to lead such a strong team of professionals into the future."


Growing trend: get the reader to write
the magazine

In what is looking more and more like a trend, here's another reader magazine putting out an issue that's 100% reader writing and photos. This Old House magazine is the first Time Inc. magazine to put out such an issue, even modified its own logo to say Your Old House. And it plans to do it annually. (Recently, we posted an item about the magazine Budget Living doing the same thing and drawing a parallel with Readers Digest Canada's magazine Our Canada.)

Toronto Life launches city politics blog

Toronto Life is launching a blog today called City State by its regular Politics columnist Philip Preville. It will focus on Toronto City Hall, and key urban issues such as architecture, transit and cultural exploration. The new blog will join Spectator, the popular media blog run by Douglas Bell.
“Unremarkable, self-effacing competence is Toronto’s comfort zone,” Preville writes. “That’s why we call it Toronto the Good rather than Toronto the Great, or The City That Works instead of The City That Conquered Facebook While Screwing Around at Work (which would be more true, and also more ambitious). But it’s not my comfort zone. I know which path I want this city to take, and I intend to give it a crisp shove from behind with a shit-eating grin on my face.”
You can read the first post here.


Loyalty program launching branded magazine Aeroplan Arrival

Starting in August, the Aeroplan member loyalty program closely associated with Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners will be publishing a three-times-a-year magazine called Aeroplan Arrival for 500,000 high-value program members. It's being published in French and English and done in partnership with Redwood Custom Communications, Canada's largest custom publishing company.

The new publication will carry a variety of travel, lifestyle and cultural content along with information about Aeroplan reward merchandise. It will also be available online. It's clear that the magazine will not only be going after advertising from reward partners but also from major national advertisers interested in reaching the target audience.
“This is the latest in a series of initiatives we have developed to add value to our expanding loyalty program and to satisfy a unique and growing membership and partner base,” said Sylvie Bourget, Vice President, Marketing, Aeroplan. “We identified the need for a quality publication that truly reflects our members: urbane travellers who continually seek more — not only out of their travel experience, but more out of life.”

“This partnership is an exceptional opportunity to apply our unique approach to branded publishing,” said Joseph Barbieri, Redwood VP Marketing and Business Development. “Aeroplan Arrival is more than a magazine – the content will not only inform, entertain and inspire, but it will help Aeroplan achieve a deeper and more meaningful level of engagement with members."

Aeroplan Limited Partnership, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aeroplan Income Fund, and represents more than 150 brands in the financial, retail, and travel sectors.

Redwood is a branded communications specialty company with offices in Toronto, New York, London and Tokyo; North American clients include Procter & Gamble, Canadian Automobile Association, Expo Design Center,, Sears, Sobeys, The Principal Financial Group, The Cliffs Communities, Rexall and Mazda International.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Way cooler location for spring Toronto
Small Press Fair

[UPDATE: Apparently all is not sunny and positive yet at the Toronto Small Press Book Fair. The editor of Taddle Creek, Conan Tobias, has asked us to remove his magazine from the list of participants -- taken from the book fair's website. He is boycotting the event because he is unhappy about last year's problems. And, although this isn't his reason for boycotting it, thinks the move to the JCC is a "bad idea".]

Cooler heads have (literally) prevailed this year for the spring Toronto Small Press Fair, which is taking place at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina Avenue (cor Spadina and Bloor) from 12 - 5 on June 7. The space is bigger, with more room for exhibitors. plus it is air conditioned.

Among the smaller literary and cultural magazines taking part this year, according to the fair's website are Taddle Creek, Maisonneuve, broken pencil, The New Quarterly, Carousel magazine (that's Carousel editor Mark Laliberte pictured at last year's fair), Descant, Existere, Kiss Machine, Misunderstanding and Public.

Readers may recall that last year's fair provoked a certain amount of controversy. This year, organizers say that they have got things together, according to a post on Torontoist.

Last year’s fair was the subject of some controversy, with a few of those involved claiming that Villegas and her co-organizer Myna Wallin hadn’t done enough to advertise and promote the event. A spat broke out on Facebook, but now all of that has been cleared away for this year’s more cheerful announcements.

“People were used to the old ways of postering all over town, and it upset them that there weren’t posters,” says Villegas of last year’s outcry. “But it’s ecologically crazy to do that, and posters get ripped down.”

Instead, they have focused on promoting via Facebook, radio announcements, and other media. This year they have also been able to buy an ad in NOW with additional funding from the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils. With the move to a larger venue and over 70 exhibitors, Villegas says they’re hoping for a much better turnout.


Publisher of Where Winnipeg dead

Brad Hughes, the well-known publisher of Where magazine in Winnipeg has died of cancer, it has been reported in an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, Hughes was editor-in-chief and co-owner with his wife Laurie of of the Fanfare Magazine Group which publishes Where Winnipeg, the international tourism bimonthly, the local food and entertainment glossy Ciao! and several travel industry service journals. He also co-founded the alternative paper Uptown magazine in 1987 (now subsumed into the Free Press).

He was prominent as a booster of downtown revitalization and of fine dining.;
Hughes helped to found Tourism Winnipeg and he developed the prominent ad campaign 100 Great Reasons to Love Winnipeg.
"He never really cared about being in the spotlight," said his brother Kelly, owner of downtown's Aqua Books at the Eat! Bistro."He always just wanted to make Winnipeg a better place."
Sharon McAuley, the Vice-president and Group Publisher of Where and its franchises (owned by St. Joseph Media), said: "Brad had a profound impact on his many friends and colleagues at Where, as well as in the tourism and hospitality industry in Winnipeg."

Canadian Jeweller and Style acquired by Rive Gauche Media Inc.

It appears that two of Canada's oldest trade publications -- Canadian Jeweller and Style magazines -- have been sold by owner Rod Morris to Rive Gauche Media Inc. of Toronto. According to a story in Masthead, Morris put the independent titles -- of which he acquired full control in 2001 -- on hiatus and up for sale recently.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rona Maynard to share what she learned helming Chatelaine

Rona Maynard is holding a salon at MagNet: Canada's Magazine Conference in Toronto. (I know this because I am her interlocutor for the session, a role I filled last year with designer Ken Rodmell.) I understand that there's still room to attend on Friday, June 6 at 10:15 a.m.

Maynard has a lot to impart, based on her 10 years as editor of Chatelaine. Currently an author (My Mother’s Daughter) and speaker, she has held staff positions at Flare and Maclean’s, and written hundreds of articles for national publications that range from Report on Business Magazine and Canadian Business to Chatelaine and MORE. She transformed Chatelaine into an intimate conversation with her readers until she retired in 2004. And, while she'll be keeping clear of critiquing her successors' travails, she'll be talking about lessons learned, challenges overcome and opportunities seized while steering one of Canada's oldest and largest circulation magazines.

Elite U.S. executives still rely heavily on traditional media, study says

Elite level U.S. business executives still rely heavily on traditional media, according to a study done by Ipsos MediaCT, as reported by the Center for Media Research.
According to the Business Elite Study by Ipsos MediaCt, and the Executive Summary drafted recently for the AAAA, almost half of C-suite executives say "the Internet has made little difference in their reading of business publications," while at the same time, using a publication's website is part of the daily routine for about two out of five (38%).
The total of executives studied turn to the Internet first for "helping me in business," but C-level executives and CEOs give their highest ranking to business magazines.

Turn to First For Helping Me in Business


C Level






National Newspapers




Cable TV




Business Magazines




Network TV




Local Newspapers








Lifestyle Magazines




Source: IPSOS BE:USA, May 2008

Better Farming pigeon expose
wins CAJ magazine award

An article about the business practices of a Waterloo-based pigeon breeding business has won an award for Better Farming magazine from the Canadian Association of Journalists. The award in the magazine category was presented on Saturday at the association's annual conference in Edmonton. It was for a December 2007 article by a staff team made up of managing editor Editor Robert Irwin, senior staff editor Don Stoneman and field editor Mary Baxter called “Faith in Arlan Galbraith: Ontario’s Pigeon King”.

“We’re thrilled by the honour and pleased to see the agriculture beat highlighted,” says Irwin. “I thought it was interesting that of the five entries in our category, four had to do with agriculture or the environment.”

Published 10 times a year, Better Farming is Ontario’s largest circulation farm business publication. It is operated by the privately owned AgMedia Inc based in Vankleek Hill, Ontario. It also publishes Better Pork magazine and operates the web site


Monday, May 26, 2008

Self-described "crap cutter" dishes it out to Corporate Knights

David Warren who, within memory, was the editor of a precious -- and ultimately failed -- little magazine called The Idler, has fetched up as curmudgeon-in-chief at the Ottawa Citizen where he dispenses a three-time-a-week column of opinion, ostensibly about international affairs.

We were struck by the weird detour he took recently in order to dish out insults to the magazine Corporate Knights, which he describes thus:
Among all the gaudy, glossy, grisly, ugly trash I must pull from my mailbox every day, to get at my bills and court summonses, perhaps the most irritating is a giveaway magazine-format piece of junk of undetermined periodicity, entitled Corporate Knights: The Canadian Magazine for Responsible Business.
His column goes on to slam purveyors of various kinds of "green" public policy and accuses Corporate Knights and all its fellow travellers of contributing to the "idiotization" of the public.
It is the inevitable result of the bureaucratization of our public life. As the Nanny State expands, it sucks all the clean air out of civil discourse, and replaces it with the stench of "settled science" and institutional priorities, enumerated by persons who in turn have no idea what they are talking about, because the nonsense they are spouting is never challenged.

This is a terrible, and potentially fatal, environmental problem, for sleepwalking hardly ever ends well. It is why my own number one priority is to find new ways to cut through all the crap.
Well, that's all right then...David Warren is on the case. Once he straightens us out, he may go back to apologizing for the war in Iraq.

Important opportunity posted for lynchpin job at Ontario Arts Council

With the recent announcement of the retirement of Lorraine Filyer as the literature officer of the Ontario Arts Council come this fall, it was inevitable that there would be a posting to replace her -- a tall order.

Because something like half of the eligible magazines in the country are in Ontario, this is a lynchpin job in the world of literary and cultural publishing; it's important that the best and the brightest at least consider taking up the challenge. Interested candidates have until June 20 to make an application.

[Thanks to David Hayes for alerting me to this.]

Provincial volunteers of the year award
winners named

Brian Kaufman, the publisher of Sub-TERRAIN magazine and one of the founders of the British Columbia Association of Magazine Publishers is one of several provincial or regional volunteers being honoured by Magazines Canada at the MagNet Conference volunteer reception in Toronto on June 4, 2008. (It had earlier been announced that Jim and Linda Gourlay of Saltscapes will be honoured as Volunteers of the Year for Canada.)
  • Kaufman is named the BCAMP Volunteer of the Year. A release from BCAMP says he "has contributed enormously to the Canadian magazine industry as a publisher of emerging and experimental writers, a spokesperson for publishing industry and as dedicated volunteer who has served for many years on both the policy committee and board of directors of BCAMP."
  • Alberta Magazine Publishers Association's Volunteer of the Year: Lynn Fraser. Lynn is the managing editor of FreeFall, where her duties extend well beyond the editorial to developing business plans, distribution and sales strategies, and also overseeing the volunteer management and helping to build FreeFall's current board of directors. Lynn exemplifies the important contributions volunteers make in our industry.
  • Manitoba Magazine Publishers Association's Volunteer of the Year: Linda Hazelwood. Linda took the reins of Horse Country in 2002 and has been Treasurer and Chair of the annual Magazine Weekend at MMPA. Linda has also mentored advertising sales representatives and freelance writers in her capacity as an independent publisher, and she is always quick to volunteer on behalf of the industry.
  • Magazines du Québec's Volunteer of the Year: Félix Maltais.Félix is the founder, publisher and coordinator of Les Débrouillards and the publisher of BLD publications. For 15 years, Félix has been a tireless promoter of science magazines for children in Quebec. Félix is also a member of the AQEM board.
  • Atlantic Magazines Association's Volunteer of the Year: Shawn Dalton. Shawn has been a keen supporter of the new Atlantic Magazines Association and has spent many hours researching the company names and contacts to build up the AMA's membership. Shawn, who is the Production and Creative Manager at Saltscapes, also created the AMA logo in his spare time.

Gzowski literacy award deadline looms

The entry deadline for the Peter Gzowski Literacy Award of Merit is less than a month away. The award was developed by ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation, in honour of the late broadcaster and literacy campaigner Peter Gzowski and is awarded to a Canadian journalist whose work has contributed to raising awareness of the adult literacy issue.

The deadline is June 20, 2008. Entries for the 2008 award must have been published, broadcast or posted online between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007. The winner will be notified Friday, July 25, 2008 and invited to an award presentation on September 17, 2008. In addition to the award, a $1,000 donation will be made, in the winning journalist’s name, to a literacy organization in their community. For more information or to download the an entry form visit

Western Magazine Awards finalists announced

Finalists have been announced for the Western Magazine Awards, which will be presented June 20 in Vancouver. Dominating the awards with 21 nominations is Vancouver magazine. The Lifetime Achievement Award is being presented to Andris Taskans, the editor of Prairie Fire, published in Winnipeg.

The Gala Dinner & Awards, hosted by Steve Burgess, is being held at River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond, B.C. Individual tickets are $90 (plus GST) and a table for 10 is $900 (plus GST).

As in previous years, the lead-up to the awards gala is Magazines West, a series of professional seminars, co-presented with the British Columbia Association of Magazine Publishers (BCAMP). Also at River Rock.

On Thursday, June 19th, the seminars include:
  • The Art and Science of Selling, with Rebecca Legge, director of Digital Sales and Sales Manager for BC Business magazine (Canada Wide)
  • Build Your National Ad Sales Program, with Marion da Ponte of da Ponte + company, a boutique sales representation firm that specializes in ad sales for publications mostly in regional markets.
  • Keynote luncheon address is by Derek Webster, publisher of Maisonneuve
  • Usage Traps and Myths, by freelance editor, writer and instructor Frances Peck
  • Best Business Practices for Freelancers, by Elisa Hendricks of Midlyn HR Communications
On Friday, June 20th:
  • The Education of Editors: How We Learn To Do What We Do with Sarah Fulford, editor of Toronto Life magazine
  • Getting the Global Picture with photographer Wendell Phillips
  • The Grilled Editors Luncheon featuring Matt O’Grady, editor of BCBusiness, Terry-Lynn Stone, editorial director for Teldon Publishing, Eric Rumble, managing editor of up! magazine, and Dan Rubinstein, editor of unlimited
  • Second Life: Cyber Newsstands that Draw Readers One Keyword @ at a Time with Joy Gugeler, editor-in-chief of


A sense of how things work; Nova Scotia Policy Review celebrates first anniversary

Starting a small magazine is a thing worth celebrating; but keeping it going is perhaps worth celebrating more. We recently recalled that a year ago, we posted about a quite special and unusual independent news magazine named the Nova Scotia Policy Review that was launched out of Bridgetown, Nova Scotia by Rachel Brighton. So we asked her how things were going on the first anniversary. Here's some of what she told us:
This magazine survives on the insight and turn-of-phrase of its writers and through the interest shown by subscribers, especially those who have chosen to truck copies around the province as ambassadors. Its circulation is unusual: half its readers are individuals and advocacy groups, and half are policy makers, principally in provincial government, but also federal and municipal government. This makes the magazine a bridge between advocates and policy makers.

A number of subscribers have also become contributors and shared their expertise, including “moonlighting” civil servants. The greatest interest in official circles has come from the periphery where civil servants aren’t kept under the thumb.”

The swing towards justice seems a natural one for the reason that Nova Scotia is such a small province. If one person gains from government largesse, it often means someone else loses. The economy isn’t helping everyone equally. As well, our law-making is often done on the fly.
The June issue celebrated the anniversary with a redesign of its cover and a sharper focus on politics, culture and justice; in this particular issue, the emphasis is on poverty. Among the articles are an examination of the flaws in Nova Scotia's childcare plan, threats to education in the North End of Halifax, the implications of a higher minimum wage and critiques the province's source of Columbian coal.

“As you turn the pages, you may sense a palpable desire for a more just society,” said Brighton in her introduction to the anniversary issue.
Some readers have found something global in this local touch, such as Howard Rosenstein, who wrote from Montréal in the March 2008 issue: “The Review is the world in Nova Scotia and, as such, has relevance everywhere.”

Others have found encouragement in the way the Review “speak[s] about the real effects of policy on “we the people”. This is refreshing and absolutely necessary if our government is to fulfill its true mandate to improve our health and welfare rather than the current shorthand version of that: to provide business opportunities to corporations with the hope that prosperity will trickle down.”
Brighton says that, with the anniversary, comes "crunch time":
Renewals are now due and I’m eager to see whether this thing really works. My sense is that readers are still hungry for what they’re missing in their daily paper, and we just lost the only competing paper* in town.
*This is a reference to Transcontinental Media's recent closing of the Halifax Daily News, leaving Haligonians (and Nova Scotians generally) with a choice of the Chronicle Herald or Transcon's free commuter paper Metro.

[The cover photo “Scene on Creighton Street, Halifax” was taken by E.A. Bollinger in 1953. Used with permission, it is part of the Community Album in the virtual exhibit, “African Nova Scotians in the Age of Slavery and Abolition”, housed by Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management at]

Why traditional advertising doesn't
work on the web

It's a real connundrum for magazine publishers who are pressing their staffs not only to build web-based revenue, but have it deliver the kinds of returns they are used to in print.

Traditional advertising, says Scott Karp on Publishing 2.0, was developed for a "captive audience" and web audiences are anything but. (He links to some interesting research from British guru Jakob Neilsen.)

As media companies struggle to figure out their digital future, the elephant in the room is that they have only been able to monetize online audiences for pennies on the dollar compared to traditional media. Here’s why: Traditional advertising formats FAIL on the web. By traditional advertising formats, I mean display ads, video ads, and any other ad whose format and value proposition approximates or imitates that of an offline advertising format.

People have no patience for traditional advertising online -- it delivers little or no value.

Online display advertising is a commodity business, where online publishers have to shovel page views and battle for every $1 increase in CPM. Some sites can get $50-100 CPMs on some pages from certain advertisers, but $1 — even $0.10 — CPMs are common on the web.

Just ask newspapers and magazines about their ad pricing power in print vs. online. Can you imagine a print publisher getting $1 for 1,000 times an ad was seen? You’d go bankrupt after one issue.

Here’s a sobering thought: If all advertising in offline media got converted to current online media CPMs, it would probably be worth a fraction of the value, i.e. $300 billion would become $50 billion.

Search advertising, because it is relevant to what users are already searching for, creates enormous value. But the search advertising is largely about helping people buy what they already know they want.
Even more provocatively, Karp points out that the most successful type of online advertising is e-mail spam.

Spam is probably the most inefficient form of advertising every created, and it creates more hate and loathing among consumers than the worst 30 second TV ad ever created.

But it works. With millions of emails sent at virtually no cost, a 0.001% response rate can still be highly profitable.

The reason why most online advertising fails is that web users see it as little better than spam.

Display ads are ignored in the same mindset as spam is ignored — I’m trying to get something done online and your display ad is getting in my way.

Halifax's Atlantic News named "retailer of the year"

Atlantic News, a bustling retailer that calls itself "Halifax's original newsstand", has been named Retailer of the Year by Magazines Canada. The store has been operating at the corner of Queen and Morris for 34 years. Michelle Gerard of Atlantic News will be recognized at the Magazines Canada Annual Luncheon on Thursday, June 5 at noon, part of the MagNet conference.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Glenn Morgan of Coast to Coast named newsstand marketer of the year

Glenn Morgan, the president and CEO of Coast to Coast, Canada's largest single copy distributor, has been named Newsstand Marketer of the Year. He'll be honoured at a reception June 3 at Magazines University.

Morgan worked for Gordon & Gotch before he partnered in founding Disticor. For a time he handled distribution for Magazines Canada before joining Coast to Coast (then an arm of Rogers Publishing Inc.) as general manager. Later, when Rogers decided to get out of the business, Morgan brokered a management purchase.

Among the reasons for his honour was his championing of the Canadian Newsstand Box Score, which ranked all publications sold in Canada based on newsstand sales.

For more detail on his career and his accomplishments, look at the story on mastheadonline.

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U.S. race relations magazine RiseUp to launch with 4 million newspaper-carried circ

Four million copies of a curious new magazine Called RiseUp that will address relations between races is due to drop out of several major metropolitan newspapers in the U.S. on June 22. And, if the publisher's ambitions are to be believed, by the first quarter of 2009, circulation will be 8 million this fall and could be as high as 12 million in the top 15-25 cities in the country by the first quarter of 2009.

This is fairly timely with the high likelihood of black candidate Barack Obama contending for the U.S. presidency. Founder and executive editor Janice Ellis told Folio: magazine:

“The mission of RiseUp is to provide an ongoing conversation for all races and ethnicities to better understand each other and to build stronger communities, cities, nations and a better world.”

RiseUp, which will be driven by (unspecified) national advertising, has so far secured distribution in several well-known newspapers—including the New York Daily News, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and the Houston Chronicle.
Racism, while as old as the human race, has managed to escape a sustained conversation in any media in the public domain" says the magazine's web site. "Each week, RiseUp will keep this most important issue in front of us in an educational, informative and fun way."


Marketing publisher denies crossing the ad-editorial line

Readers who are subscribers to Marketing magazine recently received a free sample copy of the June issue of the new, redesigned Chatelaine. Along with it came a letter from Marketing editor and publisher Christopher Loudon that said "The secret to Chatelaine’s success is its deep and sustained knowledge of Canadian women." and urged the Marketing audience to check it out.

This raised some question of a conflict of interest in the mind of Masthead magazine's editor, Marco Ursi, apparently. He posted an item on Masthead's forum that reprinted his e-mail to Loudon and Loudon's reply. Herewith:
Ursi: I think some people would see this as a conflict of interest, since Marketing regularly covers the magazine industry. Of course, Marketing and Chatelaine are both owned by Rogers, but such an explicit crossing of [the] ad/editorial [line] is sure to raise some eyebrows.

Loudon: For clarification, Chatelaine approached us, as an advertiser, with the request to distribute the June issue.

As you know, we frequently distribute complete issues of magazines (and other promotional materials) to our readers on behalf of a wide spectrum of advertising clients, including Rogers. Among recent examples, we distributed the debut issue of MORE for Transcontinental.

With regard to the accompanying letter, such is a service I would, as Marketing’s publisher, consider for any advertiser. As you can see from the letter’s content, it was neither an endorsement nor a recommendation, but strictly a letter of introduction to the redesigned and revitalized Chatelaine, encouraging our readers to peruse the issue and judge it for themselves.

Also, I think it is important to consider Marketing’s audience: an intensely media-savvy readership that fully recognizes the difference between an advertising initiative (as this clearly was) and an editorial recommendation.

U.S. magazine websites increasingly popular

U.S. magazine websites reach an impressive 43.4% of the total American online population, according to data from Nielsen Online, reported in a story in Folio:. That is up from 40.2% in 2007.

Even more impressive is that total web audiences were up almost 12% in the first three months of 2008, compared with the same period a year earlier. According to Nielsen, which surveyed the online presence of 337 consumer magazines, they attracted an average of 70.7 million unique visitors a month in the first three months. The resulting reach represents about 23.5% of the total U.S. population of 300 million.

Time spent on the magazine websites averaged 2.3 billion minutes per month, up 16.7% from last year.

The increase for magazine Web sites is more than triple the growth rate of the overall U.S. Internet population, which grew 3.7% over the same period, the story said.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Canadian Geographic prints environmental issue on "wheat sheet"

Canadian Geographic magazine and Markets Initiative, the green printing advocacy organization, have collaborated on a pilot project to use paper made from the byproduct of growing and harvesting wheat. The so called "wheat sheet" is hoped to give rise to a new industrial use for wheat straw, which, until now, has been regarded as a waste byproduct. The creators of the new paper say it rivals other glossy papers on the market.

The latest issue of Canadian Geographic, on newsstands today, uses the new paper that contains 20% wheat straw and 40% recycled pulp.
Nicole Rycroft, executive director of Markets Initiative, said the wheatsheet represents a great opportunity to turn agricultural waste products into an environmentally friendly paper. "We were looking for a creative way
to alleviate the stress on Canadian forests," she said.

Canada is the world's largest producer of commercial pulp, but the industry has shown little interest in wheat straw, which is used primarily in China. In fact, the wheat straw pulp used to create the wheat sheet was imported from China because there is no facility in North America able to process wheat into pulp.

Ms. Rycroft said the 15 million tonnes of cereal waste Canadian agriculture creates annually could be used to make 7.5 million tonnes of pulp, equivalent to about 80 per cent of all the newsprint used in Canada in a given year.
Can Geo editor Rick Boychuk's editor's letter in the current (annual environmental) issue says:
We’d like to convince the magazine industry and, ultimately, the pulp-and-paper industry that adding agricultural waste to the pulp mix is a step forward, that it will ease some of the demand for virgin pulp from the boreal forest and offer grain farmers a new source of revenue for what is now largely a waste by-product. The next time we print on a wheat sheet, we want the straw to be purchased from Canadian farmers and pulped in a Canadian mill. We’ll provide regular updates on how the mills respond to our challenge.


Maisonneuve calls the Globe on non-response to Canadian prison story

Nice things have been said before, here, about Maisonneuve magazine's daily Media Scout news roundup. But special congratulations are due for a particularly hard-hitting item in today's summary, written by Drew Nelles. It calls into question the flaccid response that the Big 7 media outlets made to a just-released report from Canada's prison ombudsman.

Some outlets didn't bother to cover it at all, including the Globe and Mail, Canada's self-described "national newspaper". Noting that the Globe front-paged instead a support about a Canadian in jail in China and makes an apt point:
But MediaScout wonders why the Globe devotes so much space to a Canadian prisoner in China, and none at all to a scathing report on racism and neglect in Canada’s own penal system. Canadians might not be surprised to hear about injustice in the jails of an authoritarian state, but if this country’s media keep ignoring the deep problems in our own prisons, we’ll remain under the false impression that all is well behind Canadian bars.

Not about technology, social media is about readers and their expectations

"There are a lot of trends in social media that can actually help our mission. But we start from the very simple principle that it's not about the technology. It's not about a widget. It's about the reader and the reader expectations."
-- Paul Rossi, publisher of the The Economist, speaking at a MediaBistro conference panel

The great promise of the Web for magazine publishers is to provide an interactive complement to their print publication. Inviting readers to comment on stories, blogs and in some cases submit their own can drive engagement and create a community in a way that print publications never could, but it has to match the magazine's brand.

The Economist, for example, has begun packing its Web site with audio content. Indeed, come this Friday afternoon, visitors can find the entire content of the print magazine available in audio files. Video has been a much slower starter for the venerable weekly, Rossi said, largely because the editors haven't figured out how to introduce it in a way that complements the publication's reporting.

Conversely, Rossi said that the magazine had introduced a popular interactive debate to its Web site, where experts present opposing viewpoints on one of the hot-button issues of the day, and viewers are invited to vote on who won. That feature, Rossi said, was a perfect online counterpart to The Economist's editorial mission of informing and guiding public debate.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Finalists for Canadian Newsstand Awards available to view online

The finalists for the 2008 Canadian Newsstand Awards are available for viewing online. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 5:00pm during Magazines University at The Old Mill Inn & Spa 21 Old Mill Road, Toronto.

There are four categories, based on magazines' circuations: extra large, large, mid-size and small.

Launched in 2002, the awards program takes into account the title’s single copy sales performance. Sales results are worth 50% of the final score, while the other 50% is based on qualitative factors judged by a panel. The five judges represent key players in the newsstand mix: a retailer, a wholesaler, a national distributor, a publisher and an art director.

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Former Toro writer has mixed feelings about new, online version

With the re-launch of Toro magazine as an online-only publication, it is interesting to see evidence of some complicated attitudes from those who were deeply involved with the late print magazine. Writer-at-large Christopher Shulgan has posted about feeling somewhat conflicted.
[UPDATE: After attending the opening bash for, Masthead magazine editor Marco Ursi posted an interesting story about the site, framed as "Five things magaziners should know about the new".]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

YorkU magazine named best in Canada

York U, the magazine published by York University, has been named the best in Canada by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education. In addition, it won two silver awards in the Prix d'Excellence for Best Article and Best Photograph.
"The magazine has a real urbane and entertaining feel. A sense of humour and nice use of typography throughout. Clearly this publication is meeting its goals and connecting with alumni and stakeholders," said the CCAE judges.
The silver award for Best Article was for an account by astronaut and York alumnus Steve MacLean (BSc '77, PhD '83) of his 2006 spacewalk outside the International Space Station, which appeared in the February 2007 issue of YorkU, titled "I Inhaled the Beauty of the Earth". The judges called the award a "significant achievement" given the high calibre of entries.

The silver award photograph (see above) was of internationally recognized pipa player Wendy Wen Zhao, taken by freelance photographer KC Armstrong for YorkU's April 2007 issue. Art director James Nixon oversaw the shoot, while the magazine’s managing editor Michael Todd chose and wrote the accompanying article, titled "Pipa Maestra", about Zhao, who teaches the ancient Chinese instrument at York.

The magazine, which was launched in the fall of 2003, is published bimonthly five times during the academic year. About 15,000 copies of every issue are distributed on campus and three of the five issues go to university alumni, giving it a circulation of 200,000.


PWAC ED declares the copyright wars over; readers can download his book, free

We're not sure what magazine writer, reviewer, poet and novelist John Degen might have expected from writing an opinion article in the Globe and Mail on copyright, but he must surely have expected a reaction. In fact he has courted one by saying in the article (and reinforcing it by putting out a press release) that the controversy over writers' rights have become arid and pointless and announcing that he is posting a pdf of his novel The Uninvited Guest on his own website for free dowload. With some finality he adds: "The war, if there ever was one, is over."

That's a pretty dramatic statement from a man who is the executive director of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC).

As far back as 2006, Degen referred to himself in the debate over creators' rights and new digital age business models as an "almost terminally confused but deeply interested writer".

Since then, he seems to have cleared up his confusion and knows where he stands: readers are invited to go to his website, download the book and, if they like it, go to a bookstore and buy a copy or make a donation to him through PayPal. It will be interesting to see if other writers follow suit.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Former Homemaker's EIC now EIC of the
Metro Canada chain

Dianne Rinehart, a former editor-in-chief of Homemaker's magazine who turned down the editorship of More magazine in favour of pursuing her MA, has accepted the position as editor-in-chief of the Metro Canada chain, which publishes free daily commuter papers. She'll be "working collaboratively with all Publishers and Managing Editors across the country", according to a recent press release published on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers list.

Metro Canada is part of the Metro International network of commuter papers, now published more than 70 editions in major cities in 21 countries across Europe, North and South America and Asia.

Rinehart has also been managing editor of Ski Canada, associate editor of Flare, a Parliamentary correspondent for Canadian Press, a biweekly columnist for the Women's Post and a columnist for various CanWest papers.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Meanwhile, in the USA...

Interesting article in the New York Review of Magazines about postal rates for periodicals in the USA. I can't put my finger on it, but something about this whole "efficiency vs. public good" bit sounds, I dunno, vaguely familiar.

[hat tip to Boing Boing]

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Four Canadians make magazines' "hot 100" list of public individuals

Not that I'd want to encourage one more ranking or list, of which there are plenty, but isn't it interesting that Foreign Policy magazine (Washington) and Prospect (a kind of British Walrus) jointly created a list of leading intellectuals?

According to a story carried by CanWest News Services, four Canadians or expatriates found their way onto the list of the top 100 public thinkers, including deputy opposition leader Michael Ignatieff. The others were philosopher Charles Taylor and pop psychologist Steven Pinker, both of Montreal, and writer Malcolm Gladwell, who was born in the United Kingdom, raised in Elmira, Ontario, and who now lives and works in New York City as a staff writer for the New Yorker. (Pinker and Gladwell are listed as sort of hybrid Canada-U.S. nominees.)

The list, which not surprisingly is top heavy with U.S. and UK names, includes Pope Benedict XVI, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, Czech statesman and playwright Vaclav Havel, British novelist Salman Rushdie, American linguist Noam Chomsky and Russian democracy activist and Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.

"We have compiled our list of the men and women who shape the tenor of our time with the power of their thoughts, words and discoveries," Foreign Policy explained in its May-June edition.

"It's a diverse group drawn from across the globe whose ranks include activists, political scientists, journalists, economists, playwrights, scientists, and many more."

Candidates were required to be active publicly and to "have shown both distinction in their particular field and an ability to influence wider debate, often far from the places they call home.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New science and nature title to bringing BBC-ness to the New World,

BBC Worldwide and its magazine division is about to launch its first magazine aimed at the U.S. market, called BBC Knowledge. According to a story in the Guardian, the new magazine -- six times annually with a projected circulation of 85,000 starting in August -- will essentially be competing with the likes of National Geographic and other natural history and science titles.

BBC Knowledge is already an established brand, having launched as a television channel in Poland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia last year as part of BBC Worldwide's new Global Channels business.

The magazine, which is to be edited from the UK Sally Palmer, former deputy editor of the BBC science publication Focus, with help from US consultant editor and science editor John Horgan, will have 100-plus pages and will use content from other UK titles such as Focus, BBC History Magazine and BBC Wildlife Magazine .

BBC Worldwide already sells about 35,000 copies of various titles in the US, including Gardens Illustrated and Homes & Antiques. The new magazine's launch will be preceded by a direct mail promotion of 1.5 million copies.

BBC Knowlege will sell for $5.99 on the newsstand and $29.95 for an annual subscription, (and presumably will be sold in Canada as well. In its usual way, the BBC tends to consider Canada simply part of the "American" market.)

"This was always envisaged to be an international project," said Andy Benham, the publishing director of BBC Worldwide's specialist division, BBC Magazines Bristol. "While we are initially launching in America, where the concept researched very favourably, the magazine undoubtedly has global appeal. We are already looking at a number of exciting international licensing prospects."

Benham said the magazine is not intended to compete head-to-head with U.S. titles. He said a few features would be "National Geographic-y" but that the magazine would be very broad, covering everything from the Falklands war to the country of Colombia.
“While the content will feed American interests, the Britishness and BBC-ness of the magazine are seen as being key assets, offering consumers a fresh alternative to what is currently on the market," Benham said.


It's not nice to surprise us, say ad
agency media directors

Magazines who pay for their own circulation audits shouldn't change suppliers or procedures without the approval of the advertisers to whom they supply the resulting data. That would seem to encapsulate the extraordinary message delivered today by the Canadian Media Directors Council (CMDC).

There was a blizzard of "shocked and appalled" commentary from several quarters recently when, first, Star Media Group, Sun Media and Transcontinental Media were switching from the Audit Bureau of Circulations to the Canadian Circulation Audit Board - and, later, that Rogers Media announced it was switching the auditing of all 52 26 of its titles to ABC; together with the 26 already ABC-audited, this totalled 52. (The fact that the commentators often had a vested interest in or sat on the boards of one or the other of the two main auditing organizations was generally ignored.)

The CMDC issued its "Communiqué on Media Measurement, Accountability and Auditing"

The overriding purpose of the statement, CMDC (and ABC) board member Sunni Boot, president/CEO of ZenithOptimedia, told Media in Canada, is that "future changes in auditing and measurements practices, policies, reporting will not take place without consultation with, and ideally agreement by, the buying community.
"With accountability a headline subject in the industry," CMDC's statement continues, "the question arises as to what obligations and responsibilities sellers have to the buying community, and what expectations buyers have in the currencies that govern our business transactions."
It said that sellers (i.e. magazines and newspapers) in "similar media categories" should use the same measurements and accountablity standards. What's curious about this is that, despite the kerfuffle, nobody has specified how the standards employed by ABC and CCAB differ in any substantive way. Many magazines use CCAB and a few use ABC; many newspapers use ABC and a few use CCAB.
Nevertheless, the "compatibility" portion of the CMDC statement says:
"It has taken many years of evolution in Canadian media to move to a system that - certainly for the major media - is now directly comparable for all players," the comparability section of the statement continues, adding that "disrupting this system is not seen to be in the interest of objective and efficient media comparison, nor supportive of fair investment decision-making."
Boot said advertisers must be part of setting the standards for measurements and audits.
"Why? Because the results of these audits reflect the currency by which we trade," she adds. "The advertiser/buyer's voice must take precedence. We have selected and are paying for a medium with the expectation that we will deliver a certain audience. To provide confidence in those audience numbers, we must be fully receptive to the manner in which the data is captured and reported."
So, in fact, media directors are saying they should be allowed to dictate not only acceptable methodology but also whether a publisher can switch from one perfectly legitimate auditing supplier to another without asking permission first.

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Toronto's City Bites magazine up for sale

Toronto's City Bites magazine is for sale. The bi-monthly foodie title, which just published its 3rd anniversary issue, distributes 30,000 copies (25,000 through the Globe and Mail, and 5,000 to subscribers ($20 a year) and in various retail outlets). Co-founder Dick Snyder told the blog MyHogtown:
"It's just time to move on and do some new projects. Basically, we got the mag to break even in year two, and have been profitable for the last year. But to really grow it and expand -- which is what our readers cry for -- it needs a lot of serious attention. It needs to be monthly, possibly bigger format, maybe even glossy."
Snyder, who is executive editor at Redwood Custom Communications and has been doing City Bites on his own time, says he's open to staying involved if a buyer wants him to, or just letting it go completely -- either way, he just wants see it grow.

Jim and Linda Gourlay to jointly receive
Volunteer of the Year Award

Magazines Canada has issued a revised press release concerning its Volunteer of the Year award, adding Jim Gourlay as co-winner with his wife Linda. The couple are co-owners and co-publishers of Saltscapes magazine. based in Halifax. An earlier release on Monday named Linda Gourlay as the recipient of the prestigious award. In its revised release, the organization cited the couple's "outstanding volunteer contributions [that] have had a national impact on the Canadian consumer magazine industry" and said:
Jim and Linda Gourlay are a team who own and publish Saltscapes. Both are staunch magazine advocates and generous volunteers, nationally and regionally. Jim was a driving force behind the evolution of the Atlantic Magazines Association and served as Chair in its first year, and Linda has been a valuable member of the Magazines Canada board of directors for the last 6 years. Linda also chaired the Magazines Canada Consumer Marketing Committee for the last 4 years and she and Jim are co-chairing the International Regional Magazine Association conference being held in Nova Scotia in the fall of 2008. In addition to these acts of volunteerism, Jim and Linda have made time throughout their busy careers to sit on industry task forces, speak at conferences and share their expertise and passion with colleagues and students, for the betterment of the industry.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Canadian graphic designer Leanne Shapton named to Time magazine's Design 100

Canadian graphic designer Leanne Shapton, the former art director of the late Saturday Night, has been named to the Design 100 published by Time magazine. The supplement honours "the
people and ideas behind today’s most influential design".

According to a story in Design Edge Canada magazine, Shapton is now designing and illustrating books, magazines and textiles in New York City – she illustrated the cover of the Time Style & Design issue. In 2006, she wrote and illustrated her first book, Was She Pretty? She is also co-founder of J&L Books, which publishes art and photography books.


Bonnie Fuller out as the queen of the tabloids

[This post has been updated] The trajectory of Bonnie Fuller's career has taken a major dip with word that she's out as the Executive Vice-President and Chief Editorial Director of American Media Inc.. A release from AMI says that she is leaving both position effective today.
"I am proud of the significant achievements of American Media's celebrity and fitness brands over the past five years, and I am now ready for a new adventure," said Ms. Fuller. "The transformation of Star from a tabloid into a glossy magazine was unprecedented and has proven to be a great success. I am also proud of the redesigns of several other titles over the past few years. I have been fortunate to work with an exceptional group of talented editors and publishers, and am thrilled to continue my involvement with AMI through my role as editor-at-large at Star and consultant to David Pecker."
Usually, being given a consulting job and an honorific title like editor-at-large is simply part of a severance package and that seems to be the case here, with AMI likely paying her out for the balance of the 3-year contract renewal she signed in June 2006.

AMI publishes Star, Shape, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Natural Health, and The National Enquirer.

As can be seen from past posts here, Fuller has come a long way since her days as a fashion reporter at the Toronto Star and the editor of Flare magazine then shot to prominence in New York heading up Women's Wear Daily, Glamour and then US Weekly.

[UPDATE] Dylan Stableford, in his blog on Folio: ventures some tart commentary about Fuller's departure:
Now, I'm no financial whiz. But a magazine that's spending $2,500,000—not including her hair and makeup!—on an editor who appears, at this point, to be relegated to blogging for the Huffington Post, is not spending its money wisely...

I think, too, that paying an editor some 50 times, say, what another editorial staffer was making is a poisonous recipe for any magazine.

Unless your name is Martha or Rachael Ray (or A-Rod), it's a good time for publishers to rein it in those exorbitant edit contracts.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What we used to call editorial...

“All of our content-providers—what we used to call editorial people—will become medium-agnostic.”
-- Brian Segal, CEO Rogers Publishing Ltd.
Mastheadonline has a report on Segal's speech yesterday to the Canadian Marketing Association' national convention and trade show

Reader-generated magazines; not
easy, not cheap

Having your readers write a whole issue of your magazine is a nifty, but daunting idea. For all the lip service that's paid to "engagement" and "reader involvement", most editors would think the thing too outlandish to contemplate. Much is being made of the decision by Budget Travel (properly known as Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel) in the U.S. to turn over its entire 10th anniversary issue to reader-generated content. Not to take anything away from the idea, but it's not unique.

There are, in fact, good examples -- like Our Canada -- where people submit stories and are given a subscription in return (the magazine is published by Reader's Digest Canada). And a company called 8020 Publishing created a travel magazine called Everwhere and a photography magazine called JPG that were entirely reader-driven. There are doubtless other examples, too.

Erik Torkells, the editor-in-chief of Budget Travel, recounts in a blog post he wrote for Folio: how he and his staff took the plunge for the magazine's 10th anniversary issue. Solicitations in the magazine and online for a variety of forms and story types got an overwhelming response -- it received almost 2,800 in-depth pitches for the “Want to be a travel writer?” story alone.
Occasionally someone would ask if we were doing a reader-generated issue because it was cheaper or easier. Let’s be perfectly clear: Making this issue was neither cheap nor easy. First, we paid our regular fees; second, we traveled more writers than we normally would (we tend to find people who live someplace); finally, we also paid for companions’ expenses (something we don’t do for professional writers). And without an extraordinary amount of deft editing—both in terms of generating ideas, sifting through submissions, working with non-professional writers and photographers, and actual text-editing—the issue would’ve been a mess. Editing non-professional writers’ words is never easy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Have your say about best practices
in Canadian magazines

A reminder that, as part of an initiative sponsored by the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors and Magazines Canada, an online questionnaire is being circulated to the industry. The response so far has been very encouraging, but we want to be sure that every quarter is heard from.

The research is an attempt to get at what some of the best practices are or might be in the industry, to take some soundings about attitudes and expectations.

It is important that we get responses from as many people, working in as many capacities, as possible. That means staff and management as well as freelancers and other suppliers. If you haven't taken a few minutes to complete the questionnaire, please consider doing it today.

The survey closes at end of business on Thursday, May 15, so there's not much time.

Here is the link:

Best practices questionnaire

If the link doesn't work, for some reason, copy this code into your browser:
Every respondent has the opportunity to enter their name in a draw for a prize pack, including a ticket to the National Magazine Awards on June 6.


Sale-or-return book business under threat -- are single copy mags vulnerable?

There are rumblings in the book trade about the possible doom of the 80-year-old practice of book returns. And, for a business like magazine publishing where the single copy sales system follows much the same model, only with much higher returns, this may give pause.

Starting in the Depression, publishers eager to keep booksellers in business and stocking their titles allowed bookstores to return books for credit. The business soon, and ever since, got in the habit of shipping large quantities of books to fill up stores, knowing that many of them -- 30% or more -- would be returned and many of those would end up in landfills.

According to a story posted on, publisher Robert Miller, who announced last month that he was leaving Hyperion, the Walt Disney Co. book unit he created, to start a new imprint at HarperCollins with some newfangled ideas.

Not only is he targetting the "surreal" returns system -- he wants to sell his books on a non-returnable basis; he also says he'll experiment with profit- sharing for authors instead of the typical advance/royalty arrangement, and bundling hardcover, nonfiction books with e-book versions of the same titles. But it's the returns policy that got everyone excited.
``Let's face it, returns are bad for everyone, and things have to change,'' Miller said in a telephone interview last month. ``The only way to make it happen was to start something entirely from scratch.''
In 2005, roughly 1.5 billion books were shipped in the U.S., according to the Association of American Publishers. Of those, 465 million, or 31 percent, were returned to publishers.

``In this age of global warming it's insane to be shipping books back and forth across the country for no good reason,'' said Margo Baldwin, president of Chelsea Green Publishing Co. of White River Junction, Vermont. ``It's just a waste of energy and, not only that, it still encourages the overproduction of books -- many of which end up in landfills.'' Baldwin, a publisher of titles about sustainable living, has started a ``green partnership program,'' signing up 30 bookstores that have agreed to take books on a non-returnable basis. In exchange, she gives them extra discounts and priority access to her authors for readings and events.

``We'd like to see them reduced, not only for the environmental impact but for the fact that pulling returns, boxing them and shipping is one of the most time-consuming things our employees do,'' said Allison Hill, president and chief operating officer of Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California,Hill .
Of course there's a lot of scepticism in the book trade about Miller's newfangled ideas and a lot of inertia to overcome. But were this idea to catch on, wouldn't there be huge pressures (from the public and environmentalists at the very least) for the newsstand business to reform, too? Gawd help us if the public were ever to catch on to the fact that we print 100 copies and pulp 60 to sell 40, shipping bundles of magazines all over the country. Just as book publishers have always done...