Friday, October 31, 2008

National Post dumps home delivery in two more provinces

The National Post, which cut out home delivery in the Atlantic provinces a year ago, has now dropped home delivery in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In its place, they are offering a reduced price on receiving a digital edition of the paper. So, while this doesn't mean the paper is not "national" in its coverage, it certainly means so in availability.
"We were losing money distributing the paper for home delivery," David Asper told CBC News on Thursday morning. "At the same time, our readers have been telling us — and we can see it in the numbers in the online usage of the product — that they're using the online version. The growth of the online world suggests to us that's where this industry is headed," he said. "I think we've done quite a remarkable job in converting the paper to a digital edition and I think it … continues to offer our readers a full product, just by way of a different medium."
Ironically, Asper is based in Winnipeg.

Throw out your 5-year plans, says Time Inc. CEO, it's 1931

Time Inc.’s decision to reorganize and cut 600 jobs had nothing to do with digital competition and was 100% to do with the economic mess, according to CEO Ann Moore. According to a report in Folio: She used her ABC Circulation Conference keynote address in New York City as an opportunity to explain that drastic action was based on drastic circumstances (that she and her management team did not remotely anticipate, by the way).
"We really believed we could make the 2008 goals. Our biggest and oldest brands had double-digit growth in 2007...By this October it was looking like 1931. [Time Inc.] has never had so many advertising clients in trouble at the same time. The declines are stunning."
Her advice to publishers? “[T]hrow out your neat little five year plans and adopt a two-year one."

Related posts:

Magazines need to play to their strengths and nurture their audiences

While I take some of the responsibility for liberally spreading gloom with my posts and links about closures, cutbacks and depressing data in the magazine industry, it is doing no one any favours by glossing over such bad news. However it might be worth taking a pause and looking at the fundamentals that give magazines an edge when it comes to coping with the bad news and competing in a bloody and uncertain marketplace.

One is the relationship with readers, whence comes 30, 40 or even 50% of revenue. There is very little evidence, anywhere, that readers are abandoning magazines. It is not whistling past the graveyard to say that readers who, two months ago, loved your magazine and looked forward to it are unlikely to have fallen out of love because of the financial meltdown. Nor is it likely that their first, or even tenth, economy will be to instantly cancel their subscription. They have much bigger worries and, in many ways, the steady constancy of a regular magazine sub is something they can count on in an uncertain world. Long-term, yes, people may find themselves economizing, but not right now and not on magazine subs. At least not if you continue to deliver delight and good value.

Paradoxically we have so long underpriced magazines that they cost so little in sub or single copy in the scheme of things that they are, if not beneath notice, then at least a low priority for economy. If readers were paying the full freight, they might have greater pause, but they aren't.

The much-discussed migration of advertising to the web has been hyped beyond reason. Yes, ad sales are dropping, but it is not because advertisers are transferring the dollars to websites, but because they are cutting back spending across the board. If misery loves company, we've got lots of it, in other media of all types.

Because we don't hear the moans from the corporate suites of new media doesn't mean that they aren't sharing the pain with the rest of us. Pause for a moment and consider what stories you have read about profitable web publishing. Not many examples. The very strong likelihood is that, in the recession, a lot of these Potemkin villages -- built on hype and hope, but without solid subscriber bases -- will be casualties. I'm not suggesting that we should indulge in schadenfreude. But we should understand and nurture the strength of magazines.

Publications that maintain their quality will still be there when the economy rights itself and advertisers once again acknowledge that our business is delivering the attention of readers in an editorial environment they trust.

We should also remember that a lot of magazines are small, and nimble. While we hear the laments from the big battalions and see the layoffs, it should be remembered that many of Canada's best magazines are used to working on a shoestring and relying largely on voluntarism and goodwill. That will continue and there is hardly any audience more loyal than the audience of small magazines. Sure, we need to continue to innovate in all sorts of ways, but if you have energy to spend, spend it on holding and nurturing your existing audiences.

Magazines have good stories to tell and should continue to tell them between episodes of battening down hatches. We know from experience that we can't sit still, we have to continue to develop new readers and new ways of reaching them. But our longstanding ways of reaching them won't disappear overnight, or at all.

The one thing publishers and editors and circulators can't do is to give this up as a lost cause, because there is little evidence that it is. While confusion and uncertainty is understandable, it will pass; what we can't give way to is despair. Chins up, magaziners.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Men's Vogue shrinks back to supplement; Portfolio drops two issues and 20% of staff

Up and down in a few years, Men's Vogue is being cut back to be a twice-a-year supplement to parent magazine Vogue. And Portfolio magazine, launched just last year is being cut back to 10 times a year from monthly.

In what is a sign of expected hard times to come at Conde Nast, the men's fashion spinoff that had grown to a standalone 10 times a year is shrinking back to appear in the spring and the fall. According to a story in Women's Wear Daily, the fate of publisher Marc Berger and others on the Men's Vogue 40-person editorial staff is unclear, though the editor Jay Fielden will remain.
Year to date through November, Men's Vogue had 588 ad pages, down 11 percent. Its November issue was down nearly a quarter from its 2007 counterpart, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

Men's Vogue sold an average of 53,600 copies on the newsstand in the first half of 2008, but raised its rate base to 400,000 on the strength of its circulation.
Portfolio staff have been told that staff cutbacks are imminent and WWD says it expects about 20 percent of the staff to be let go. The magazine's website sales staff is being folded into that of Wired Digital.
Publishing director David Carey said the moves were responding to an economic picture decidedly different from the one in 2006, when the magazine launched. The goal, he said, is “a realistic infrastructure, and to not just carry forward all of our 2006 plans as if the world never changed.” Portfolio had 680 ad pages in 2008.

James Moore of B.C. named Heritage minister

With today's federal cabinet shuffle, there is a new minister in charge of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Josée Verner is now to be Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister for La Francophonie.

Replacing her is James Moore of Port Moody B.C., a radio broadcaster who became an MP in the 2000 election after working for a time as a commucations advisor to the then-in-opposition Conservatives led by Preston Manning.

Such a change always means the magazine industry (among others) needs to meet and brief the new minister on his file with some urgency; Magazines Canada will want to bring Moore up to speed, for instance, on issues of the proposed merger of the Canada Magazine Fund and the Publications Assistance Program, on Canada Post issues, including the plan for distance-related pricing and on general matters of the government's support of arts funding.

Moore holds a degree in political science from the University of Northern BC and, while in Prince George continued in broadcasting by launching his own talk show. He was the youngest-ever elected BC member of Parliament, at the age of 24. He speaks French and is not only young, but is considered a "comer" in Ottawa (in other words, for him Heritage is not simply a parking place).

He served as deputy critic for both foreign affairs and national revenue, transport critic and vice-chair of the Comomons transport committee.

(By the way, his dog's name is apparently Jed.)

Related posts:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Azure lures 2-year subs with a handmade Italian collectible

Azure, the Toronto-based bimonthly design, architecture and interiors magazine, has taken subscription premium offers to a whole other level. People who sign up for a 2-year subscription get one of 2,000 rubber silicone fish especially designed for the magazine by Italian designer Gaetano Pesce (whose name means 'fish'). It's made of plastic resin and polyester fibre and each one is individually hand-made.

The magazine's current issue contains an article on Pesce and his almost 40-year career.

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Essay collection by former Weekend staff writer recalls life in Canada's corners

Back in what seems more and more a "golden age" for Canadian magazines, Weekend Magazine sent writer Ernest Hillen across Canada writing "portraits" of Canadian lives in various corners of the country. It's hard to imagine a magazine today doing such a thing.

Now Oxford University Press Canada has gathered Hillen's essays together in a delightful collection called A Weekend Memoir. It will appeal to anyone who likes well-crafted magazine profile writing. The book includes a poignant forward by Roy MacGregor.

Hillen, who now lives in Cambridge, was a senior editor at Saturday Night magazine, a staff writer at Weekend and at Maclean's. He wrote two outstanding memoirs (very recently republished by Penguin Canada) called The Way of a Boy, and its sequel, Small Mercies: A Boy after War.


Quote, unquote: how much room in the internet lifeboat?

The print magazine business is dying and dying faster than many analysts thought it would. Its only life boat is the internet. A life boat only holds so many people.
-- Douglas A. McIntyre, an editor at (in Blogging Stocks; copied in several other analyst-written financial newsletters).


Quote, unquote: the best defense is
a good offense

If you were running the New York Times, what would you do?
Shut off the print edition right now. You’ve got to play offense. You’ve got to do what Intel did in ’85 when it was getting killed by the Japanese in memory chips, which was its dominant business. And it famously killed the business—shut it off and focused on its much smaller business, microprocessors, because that was going to be the market of the future. And the minute Intel got out of playing defense and into playing offense, its future was secure. The newspaper companies have to do exactly the same thing.

The financial markets have discounted forward to the terminal conclusion for newspapers, which is basically bankruptcy. So at this point, if you’re one of these major newspapers and you shut off the printing press, your stock price would probably go up, despite the fact that you would lose 90 percent of your revenue. Then you play offense. And guess what? You’re an internet company

- Netscape founder and Silicon Valley smart guy Marc Andreesen in an interview in the new issue of Portfolio


The essential paradox; paper is still how
publishing is paid for

David Carr in the New York Times distills an essential paradox of the business:

For readers, the drastic diminishment of print raises an obvious question: if more people are reading newspapers and magazines, why should we care whether they are printed on paper?

The answer is that paper is not just how news is delivered; it is how it is paid for.

More than 90 percent of the newspaper industry’s revenue still derives from the print product, a legacy technology that attracts fewer consumers and advertisers every single day. A single newspaper ad might cost many thousands of dollars while an online ad might only bring in $20 for each 1,000 customers who see it.

Finkle says Canadian freelance industry just the right size to make agency feasible

Eye Weekly in Toronto has published a longish interview with Derek Finkle about his nascent Canadian Writers Group agency. He says the current system of compensating writers, which is paying them as they were paid 15 or more years ago doesn't make sense and that, while writing is "a valuable skill, a special skill", writers are often too timid to bring up issues of underpayment because they don't want to ruin the relationship with the editor.
Psychologically it's a lot different when you have an agency doing that on your behalf and the terms are a lot different when that agency is representing a massive chunk of the talent pool in this country.

"This idea, this agency I've dreamed up, this is something that would never work in New York or in the United States, where the industry is so massive. You could never absorb the talent pool to achieve the kind of negotiating position that you need. Here, the industry is just the right size, the talent pool is just the right size, and it's a much more feasible concept here.
The current system, he told writer Kate Carraway, discourages talented and experienced freelancers and they turn to teaching or book-writing or alternative career choices when they can't afford to freelance anymore.
"It affects the whole industry, because they're constantly reliant upon the next round of talent being turned out by Ryerson or some other school where hopefuls eternally reside. The quality totally suffers. We don't have a system that could ever create a Seymour Hersh type of character. It's not that publications here can't afford it, they choose not to afford it. When they say they don't have the money, that doesn't literally mean they don't have the money. Another way to put it is, 'We don't have it in the budget.' When they're saying it's not in the budget, what they're saying is, 'We've chosen not to spend the money on writers.'

"What happens every year is you have an editor going to a publisher, saying 'We need to make the editorial budget bigger' and this is in a meeting in which they've already discovered that they have to jack up the printing budget and the distribution budget … and they get to the editorial budget and everybody is just burned out at that point. And someone says, meekly, 'I think we need to revise the editorial budget' and there's five seconds of silence and they end the meeting. And that's what happens."
[Thanks to David Hayes at the TFEW list for tipping us to this.]

Related posts:


Design Edge magazine has most prescient cover of the year

The prize for the most prescient magazine cover of the year, I think, must go to Design Edge Canada. Its September-October issue asks an apt question, for which the correct answer is, now, completely obvious.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Unruly commenters sent to go sit in the corner...

Maclean's columnist Paul Wells has apparently had it with unruly commenters and has temporarily suspended comments on his Inkless Wells blog.

I’m closing Inkless to comments for at least the next several days. I had been urging readers to show better manners, and while most didn’t need any encouragement in that direction, a few can’t control themselves.

This policy applies only to my blog and it may not be permanent. I’ll open comments back up at the end of the week and see whether people are a little calmer.

Christian Science Monitor abandons print

Two months ago, we carried an item about how the Christian Science Monitor had reinvented itself, giving priority to its website, though continuing to publish and sell a print edition of 55,000. Well, the other shoe has dropped as the Monitor has announced that it is abandoning its print edition. In light of that, managing publisher Jonathan Wells's comment in August takes on new meaning: "We had to face up to a lot of these economic pressures well before other newspapers."

John Yemma, The Monitor's editor, said that moving to the web only will mean it can keep its eight foreign bureaus open while still lowering costs.
"We have the luxury — the opportunity — of making a leap that most newspapers will have to make in the next five years."


U.S. big mags suffering "tremendous advertising attrition"

Spoiler Alert! If you're already sawing at your wrists over the economy, approach the following item with caution!

[This post has been updated] Magazines are likely to follow newspapers down a very slippery slope with a nasty bump at the bottom, according to the financial newsletter 24/7 Wall Street.
As the year wears on there is growing evidence that the magazine industry will not escape the fate of newspapers. Several of the largest weekly magazines, business publications, and the flagship properties at some of the big print companies are experiencing tremendous advertising page attrition which is, in many cases, accelerating.
The item notes (using data provided by min, the media industry newsletter) that Hearst magazines are all off significantly in ad pages through November: Cosmpolitan (-11%), Redbook (-10%) and Good Housekeeping (-4%). All Conde Nast magazines have had sharp drops for the same period: The New Yorker (-24%), Vanity Fair (-12% -- and its November issue is 34% smaller than a year ago), Vogue (-7% but November pages down 32% from a year earlier).

Time, Newsweek and US News and World Report have lost an average of 27% of ad pages, it said.

In business titles, Business Week (McGraw-Hill) lost 17% of its ad pages through the third week of October; Forbes (-16%); Fortune (Time Warner) was up just over 2%.

[UPDATE: As a companion piece, here is a compilation by MediaDaily News of the recent layoffs at big U.S. magazine companies.]

[UPDATE 2: Time Inc. was expected to announceannounced that (in addition to the layoffs above) the company will lay off 6 per cent of its magazine workforce, representing 600 jobs.The full text of CEO Ann Moore's memo to staff, from Folio:.]

Frank magazine folds, saying
"it is time to move on"

Frank, the obstreperous, occasionally scurrilous, Canadian magazine of satire and gossip, which has survived several changes of hands and near-death experiences, has apparently run out of runway. The following notice has gone out to subscribers from publisher Michael Bate:

To our regret, we have decided to stop publishing Frank Magazine. Effective immediately, both the online and the bimonthly paper edition have been terminated.

Despite the efforts of our wonderful staff and contributors, our loyal investors and our dedicated subscribers, we could not achieve profitability.

My thanks to everyone involved with Frank over the past 19 years. It has been a memorable experience, but it is now time to move on.

Frank was started in late 1987 in Halifax by David Bentley. It was modelled quite deliberately on the iconoclastic British weekly Private Eye but had its own, often loopy, style. In 1989 Bentley, in partnership with Michael Bate, launched an "upper Canadian" version in Ottawa which, after several brushes with death survived until today. (Bate bought out Bentley; the Halifax-based Frank has continued although Bentley is no longer involved.). For a time, the Ottawa or "national" Frank magazine was owned by Globe and Mail journalist Fabrice Taylor, who wanted to take it more mainstream and found no market for it, closing it in 2004. Bate started it up again and put more emphasis on the online version, but that, along with the print version, is no more.

Bate told the Toronto Star:
"Frank is not part of the zeitgeist the way it was in the 1990s," conceded publisher Michael Bate during a phone interview. "There was a time in the early '90s when we really had the field to ourselves, in the sense that we were doing stories that were the antidote to the mainstream media. In a way, we were the Internet. And then along came the Internet. More and more publications started doing what we were doing. And we couldn't compete."
Frank's "Remedial Media" column enjoyed a love-hate relationship with Canadian reporters, editors and writers who avidly read (and bristled about) the backstairs gossip about newspapers, magazines, radio and TV.

As but one example of its mischief, in 2007, Frank managed to snow various mainstream outlets like the Globe and Mail about a wholly fictional organization in support of Conrad Black during his travails with the U.S. courts.

When the magazine closed, said The Star, it had 5,000 subscribers for its daily updated online edition and its bimonthly newsstand publication, compared to a peak circulation of roughly 20,000.


Few magazines have committed to the web,
says Ad Age editor

There is a major gap between what magazine publishers say about their websites and the reality of those websites, according to Jonah Bloom, editor of Advertising Age. In a column (unfortunately behind a pay wall), he said:

Major magazines’ corollary websites still account for only a tiny percentage of all web activity. Very few magazines — the exceptions being ESPN, National Geographic, Real Simple and The Economist — can be considered brands that have established much meaning beyond their printed forms. Many think they have. Major publishers have repeatedly told me that their titles are also powerful brands …

But magazines are not marketed like brands. They spend little advertising themselves to either consumers or the [advertisers] that support them, and when they do, their messages tend to be focused on the content of the publication . . .

Few have committed to the web, despite protestations to the contrary. There are still top-50 magazines whose landing pages are essentially ads for their print versions.

[via Fine on Media, Business Week]


Monday, October 27, 2008

If Obama were a magazine, he'd be People, says survey

If he were a magazine, Barack Obama would be People, while John McCain would be Business Week, according to a survey conducted in the U.S. by Landor Associates and Penn, Schoen & Berland associating the presidential and vice-presidential candidates with various brands and fictional characters. Even weirder, Obama and Sarah Palin have many characteristics in common: coffee (Starbucks); magazine (People); search engine (Google).

National Post discontinues Toronto "magazine" section

[This post has been updated]While it falls somewhere outside my definition of a "magazine", being really a newspaper tabloid section, it nevertheless is an unhappy indicator when the floundering National Post discontinues its Toronto magazine section. Yesterday's issue was the last and whatever is salvaged from the section will now be subsumed in the main, broadsheet pages of the weekend paper.

That this has happened in the same week when the parent company, CanWest Global saw its stock fall into penny status is no coincidence. The paper can apparently no longer afford to behave as though it has a weekend magazine, though it really hasn't since it sold Saturday Night several years ago.

[Update: The This Magazine blog wishes the National Post a happy 10th anniversary in typical cheeky fashion.]

The Toronto section had dwindled in any event; this most recent change will reduce three magazine-style features in Toronto to only one in the main paper. Whether the other, shorter items, many of which were a steady market for Toronto-based freelancers, will survive I don't know. I suspect that many readers flipped into the magazine section, in any event, to read Shinan Govani's gossip and the shopping stories (what newpapers insist on calling "style"). That will continue, anchored in a new place.

By the way, does anyone else remember that this is the second time a national newspaper has killed a magazine called Toronto? The Globe and Mail did it years ago, only that one was a glossy that tried, for a time, to compete with Toronto Life.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Annals of design: Marchbank archive
worth a look

(This has nothing to do with Canada, except for those who like excellent magazine design.) Pearce Marchbank, a well-known London designer, has put up a new website showing his work in various media, including some stunning magazines. He did everything from Architectural Design to Oz and much in between. (In fact, when the three editors of Oz were jailed for obscenity in 1971 after a landmark trial, Marchbank stepped in and designed and edited the next three issues...even while art directing the weekly Time Out magazine.)

While a lot of his magazine work hails from the '60s and '70s, its boldness stands up pretty well today. Look at the site and see the elegant little design for a private wine club's newsletter, and his various covers for Marxism Today (which ceased publication in 1992 -- its last issue is shown).

Marchbank designed the iconic Time Out logo and continued to design for the magazine for many years. He went on to do art direction for music publishers, restaurants, you name it. In the 1980s, he became design director for Virgin Records. For many years, he has done his work under the brand of Studio Twenty. The esteem with which he's held in art direction circles was indicated in 2004 when he was named Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) the highest award possible in the field.

[Thanks to MagCulture for alerting us to this.]

Friday, October 24, 2008

U of T nursing faculty launches twice-annual magazine Pulse

The University of Toronto's Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing has a new magazine called Pulse which has been distributed across Canada in the last couple of weeks. The editor is Lucianna Ciccocioppo (who is the communications and media relations coordinator at the school) and the art director is Levi Nicholson of Zaxis Publishing Inc. (who is also undertaking the redesign of This Magazine).

(The nursing faculty also publishes a magazine about nursing scholarship called Discover.) The circulation of Pulse is 6,000 to alumni, faculty, staff and donors,university counterparts, hospital and community partners, and government. Currently it is twice a year but it will be accessible on the faculty's web site starting next week.



Magazine people for magazine jobs
on the Canadian Magazines blog
  • Targetted readership
  • Free access for job searchers
  • Cost-effective for employers (just $1 a day)
  • Easy online setup
  • Postings by job function
Simply click on POST A JOB> and follow the prompts


Sarah Fulford to tell editor hopefuls how she landed her dream job

Ed2010 Toronto is presenting Toronto Life editor Sarah Fulford. next month as part of its semi-regular speakers' series.
The newly minted editor of award-winning city magazine Toronto Life – who at 34 is the youngest editor to hold one of the top media jobs in the country – will share her advice on how to land your dream job. Sarah's brief talk will be followed by a Q&A period. Shy? Send Ed your questions for Sarah in advance: toronto [at]ed2010 [dot]com
The event is at Deer Park Library , 40 St. Clair Ave. East (Located one block east of Yonge St. on the north side of St. Clair Ave.), Wednesday November 5 from 6:15pm to 7:45pm (the event starts at 6:30pm sharp) Admission is $5 and it's first-come, first-served, with space limited.

[Thanks to Corinna van Gerwen's Dream Job TK blog for this.]


Must have been its ninth life...Radar folding

Radar magazine, which has had more than one revival, is folding for good, according to a report in the New York Observer. Or, at least, its print magazine is folding. The website is sold to AMI to be redesigned under the editorship of David Pecker, the editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer. (You can't make this stuff up.)

According to the Observer:

Started by Maer Roshan in 2003, the magazine billed itself as a guide to pop culture, scandal, and style but soon folded. In 2005, Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman and a pre-scandal Jeffrey Epstein invested a reported $25 million in the magazine according to a report by Katharine Q. Seelye in The New York Times, but by December of that year, the magazine had been shut down again. By this time, Radar's ups and downs had become sport for Web site's like Gawker, which delighted in every gory detail of the magazine's demise.

In 2006, the magazine returned with the help of Yusuf Jackson. It was widely speculated that Ron Burkle was also an investor. In 2008, the magazine was nominated for a National Magazine Award in the category of General Excellence for circulation between 100,000-250,000.


Major awards to be made to journalists researching, writing about health issues

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is encouraging journalists in Canada to engage in research and creation of projects that promote health research. Five $20,000 awards and five $10,000 awards are to be made and the program is open to all working journalists in Canada and Canadian journalists working abroad, in all mediums.
Projects are expected to include a period of investigation to assemble the information needed for in-depth news or feature articles or documentaries. Some travel to interview information sources would be anticipated.
Awards will be made based on the
  • Achievements and experience of the applicant;
  • Novelty and importance of the ideas proposed (special consideration will be given to proposals that address areas of health research that are underreported in Canada);and
  • The use of research-based information as a key component for the work proposed.
Applications with all supporting materials must be submitted by December 15, 2008, with awards taken up by March 31, 2009.

[Thanks to Steve Trumper for the heads' up on this]

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Former Esquire cover guru decries electronic cover "gimmick"

Recently, Esquire magazine published a battery driven "electronic" cover that caused some buzz, but only a few ripples in the business. Now, legendary Esquire art director George Lois (1962-72) has waded in with a video interview with Ad Age, decrying the "silly gimmick".

U.K. magazine launch aims at getting those young people involved

A young publisher in Britain is launching a magazine to try and engage young people in politics. According to a story in Press Gazette, University of Bristol lecturer Laura-Jane Foley, a former editor of Cambridge University's Varsity magazine has started Politick, a quarterly publication aimed at getting young people interested in politics.
“I wanted to find some way of tapping into that generation and getting them talking about politics. There’s nothing on the market that’s aimed at them. The Economist is a quality magazine, but is really dense and goes over a lot of people’s heads.”

The magazine is independent and not aligned to any of the political parties, and whilst Foley makes it clear Politick will not be a “low-level trashy magazine” about politics, it will aim to be accessible and engaging for young people.
Distribution of the first 68-page issue is 30,000 and it will sell for a cover price of £3.99.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Masthead closure has major implications for the Canadian magazine industry

The word today that Canada's magazine about magazines, Masthead, is closing after 21 years (see post below) is lamentable news. The magazine, which started out in print and was an early adopter of the web, has striven over those years to find a viable business model, from print subs, to pay-wall website, to free web access, but apparently without success. [Disclosure: I have for some time been a columnist for Masthead]

Next month's issue (November-December) will be the last, with closing at an undefined date soon afterwards. This may hold out some faint hope that the website could survive the magazine's closure. No word on that, yet.

One of the things that Masthead has relied upon was income from its trade show at Magazines University. Doubtless, with the glowering clouds on the financial horizon, booth sales for next June's show have already been hard sells. That is entirely aside from the competition for attendance from MagNet, theshowprofessional development conference run concurrently by Magazines Canada.

There's no point in going into the details of the dispute between Magazines Canada and Masthead over Mags U. (For more about that, see postings passim.) The association was free to start up its own show and did so and it always seemed to sensible observers that, eventually, there would only be room for one. Since Magazines Canada saw MagNet as a service to its members and therefore a core activity of the organization, it was highly unlikely that it would be the first to blink.

We understand that North Island Publishing, publishers of Masthead, are saying that, in part, it was competition from MagNet that made it impossible to continue. More likely, however, was that this is a very small industry and there were insufficient subscribers and advertising support to pay the bills. (I have no inside information on this, and would welcome elaboration by those who do.)

What will the passing of Masthead mean (besides my Good Question column needing to find a new home!?). Well, there is no question the recently launched website was much more feature-rich than earlier versions and provided a very valuable news service to the industry. There are things that Masthead does that either will fall by the wayside or need to be picked up in some other way; for instance, their salary survey, which has become more sophisticated and useful over time. Or their resource pages, where archived material on aspects of the business is equally useful to newbies or veterans. Or their annual compilation of Canada's 50 largest magazines by circ and ad revenue. Or the Canadian Newsstand Awards. Or its heavily trafficked job board. In fact, all of the data and reporting that fell to the business-to-business magazine for the magazine industry.

There are implications, too, for Magazines University and for Canadian Business Press, Masthead's major partner, will be able to sustain such a venture on its own, or has the wherewithal to run a trade show. No word yet on whether North Island will carry on with the trade show business, which we are told was profitable, but really was branded by the magazine which will no longer exist. Despite several overtures in the last couple of years from Magazines Canada for some cooperative approach to professional development seminars, CBP has resolutely decided to go it alone. It remains to be seen whether a CBP-only trade show is feasible.

Last, but not least, for this post, let me say that it will be too bad that Marco Ursi will be losing his position as editor as the result of this closure. He showed the kind of journalistic energy that such a small, specialized publication depends on. If 80% of success in life is just showing up (as Woody Allen said) then Marco was always there at industry events. But that other 20%, including a good instinct for stories and interviews, is what will be lost and will be hard to replace. (Certainly there is no capacity at the moment on this blog to replace what Marco has been doing.) I wish him all the best.

More as we learn more.


Newsflash: Masthead and MastheadOnline to fold

Unfortunately, it appears that the issue of Masthead currently in production is to be its last.

Next month? Scratch and sniff pop-ups

Half the ads and many of the photos in the Sports Illustrated Kids November issue are in 3-D, demonstrating that gimmicks sometimes work. According to an article in Mediaweek, the number of ad pages for the issue increased 26%.
Yet whether the stunt delivers a longterm benefit for SI Kids remains to be seen. In general, kids' magazines have fought a tough battle for ad pages as packaged foods, their bread and butter, have shifted spending out of the category to avoid controversy over childhood obesity. Year to date through November, SI Kids' ad pages fell 14.3 percent to 175, per the Monitor. VP ad sales, marketing Scott Hendrickson said the title is trying to grow its videogame business to offset the packaged goods ad decline, pointing out that the last three issues of the year are charting double-digit page gains.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Twitter as a new tool for engaging with magazine audiences

The U.S. quarterly Make claims it is the first magazine to offer customer support via the social web messaging platform Twitter. It allows its tech-savvy readers to send the magazine instant messages, or “tweets” as they are called in Twitter-speak and get an all-but-instant reply.

However, we are aware of some other magazines with their own Twitter account. For instance, Canada's venerable This Magazine started distributing its own Twitter feed August 15, and one of its most recent updates says that it has 108 Twitter "followers" as of this week.

That doesn't make it any less true what Make senior editor Phil Torrone told Folio:

“This is new terrain for magazines. We would send out messages on Twitter whenever we’d post a new story, and we’d find people were talking back as if Make was a real person.”
Torrone said he answers each “tweet”—everything from subscription requests to changes of address which number 30-40 a day— himself. “With Twitter, users expect a response right away.” Make recently offered its followers on Twitter a discount on subscriptions, and sold 50 in two days.

Twitter is, in effect, a system for sending small text messages -- up to 140 characters -- via email, phone or the Web. Make’s Twitter feed, which has more than 2,000 followers, can be accessed here.

Make, published by O'Reilly Media, has a paid circulation of 100,000, with a readership of about 250,000, the company says. Its Web site averages about 2 million unique visitors a month.

Strange but true! Reader's Digest finds pointed differences between Canadians and Americans

Canadians and Americans have pointed differences on some key issues, according to a global poll published in the November issue of Reader's Digest.

"The results were revealing, though not altogether surprising," said Peter Stockland, Editor-in-Chief of Reader's
Digest Canada. "We have long suspected Canadians and Americans are different - our poll found those differences to be pointed on a number of ideas and issues." The results were part of a worldwide poll taken in advance of the U.S. presidential election.
  • Canadians take their role as global citizens seriously: the three most important issues to Canadians are the environment (31%), followed by the world economy (17%), and global poverty (12%). In contrast, Americans put the economy first (26%), followed by terrorism (19%), and the war in Iraq (16%).
  • While the race in the United States is very tight between Barack Obama and John McCain, nearly five times as many Canadians would elect Obama over McCain, if given the opportunity.
  • Only 27% of Canadians polled said they would move south of the border if free to do so (bycomparison, 52% of respondents in France would emigrate).

First, Zoomer magazine; now a show for the Zoomer consumer

On the heels of the launch of Zoomer magazine for the over-45s, Zoomer Media is launching a Toronto-based consumer lifestyle show that it hopes will be the template for going national next year. According to a story in Media in Canada, the Zoomer Show is said to be expecting 10,000 attendance over two days at the Direct Energy Centre at Toronto's Exhibition Place, Nov. 1-2. Admission will be free to CARP's 185,000 members (CARP is the organization for over-50s that Zoomer founder Moses Znaimer bought and has transformed, including changing the CARP membership magazine into a fashion and lifestyle title.)

Consistent with the perceived concerns of older people, the show is title-sponsored by Aspirin 81mg. Other sponsorship includes Pfizer, Pepcid Complete, McLennan Group and the Toronto Star. Among 150 exhibitors, LG, Cineplex, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Pepcid, Pfizer, McLennan Group, Sandals Resorts, Goodlife Fitness, Scotia McLeod, Canadian Diabetes Association, Polident, Breathe Right, Poly-Grip, Sensodyne and the Association of Interior Designers. Attenders will get advice on positive aging, financial planning, age-appropriate travel resorts, alternative living options, Zoomer-friendly innovations, professional caregiving or even a second career.

"Traditionally, marketers have lost interest in consumers after they turn 50," Leanne Wright, VP Communications, Zoomer, tells MiC. "ZoomerShow participants understand that if they want to grow their business in the next 20 years, they had better be targeting Zoomers."

"Everyone wants to live long, but nobody wants to get old - and everybody loves a show," [said] David Zersta, VP of conference and trade shows for Zoomer Media.

British magazine distribution could do with some competition, report says

British magazine publishers and retailers may soon see greater competition in distribution of titles, after a ruling by the Office of Fair Trading (OTF). According to a story in the Guardian, it means that

Newspaper distribution will continue to be protected by an opt-out from competition law under guidance handed down today by the Office of Fair Trading.

However, the regulator said magazine distribution could work better if there were greater competition among wholesalers.

UK wholesalers now enjoy "absolute territorial protection" - ATP - giving them exclusive access to specific areas of the country, and retailers stocking newspapers and magazines cannot choose between different wholesalers. This has been justified because of the time pressures on daily newspapers and the same system has applied to magazines. (Compare this with Canada where magazine retailers have a choice -- albeit a limited one -- of distributors and wholesalers. Territorial exclusivity was essentially done away with several years ago.)

The OTF said in a report that magazine sales were not subject to this same pressure as newspapers and that there was "greater scope" for competition between wholesalers.It is now leaving it to publishers, distributors and wholesalers to decide whether the current regime is compliant with competition law. Spokemen for the magazine industry said that many weekly magazines are under the same time pressure as newspapers and should retain similar protection.

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New freelance agency formally announced; more than 80 writers already signed up

The Canadian Writers Group (CWG), the fledgling agency for freelancers, including freelance magazine writers, has announced not only details of its service but also a stunning list of people who have signed on for it. As many of you will know, former Toro editor Derek Finkle has launched the new agency with the intention of negotiating better rates for writers. Until now, only informal, off-the-record briefings have been held. Little has been known about how the agency will work. But with a release today, it is reported that
  • More than 80 writers, including some of the most prominent names in Canadian journalism, have indicated their intention to be exclusively represented by Finkle and his team;
  • CWG expects to represent at least 150 writers across Canada by the time it officially opens its doors for business in early 2009, negotiating fees and rights for all magazine, newspaper, online, and commercial work done by those freelancers in its roster;
  • To assist in these negotiations, CWG has retained the services of prominent Toronto media lawyer Iain MacKinnon.
  • The agency has already been approached by a number of potential commercial clients looking for writers, including the Toronto design firm q30, as well as the Toronto chapter of the international business group Entrepreneur’s Organization;
  • To provide its writers with improved access to the American book and magazine markets, CWG has also forged an affiliation with Kuhn Projects, a full-service literary agency in New York City operated by David Kuhn.“As a former editor at Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Brill’s Content, David will undoubtedly prove to be a great asset to CWG writers,” says Finkle. “In fact, Kuhn Projects recently sold the rights for New York-based Canadian business writer Duff McDonald’s account of Wall Street tycoon Jamie Dimon’s career to Simon & Schuster.”
“Even for the most talented and productive magazine and newspaper writers, freelancing in Canada hasn’t been a profession with a sufficiently viable career arc in my lifetime,” says Finkle.

"While the agency hopes to bring editorial pay rates up to a level that more realistically reflects the skills the best and most in-demand freelancers are providing to this country’s publications,” says Finkle, “we are also hoping to attract lucrative commercial writing jobs to the agency for those who are looking for them.”
The list of people who have so far signed up is worth reproducing:
Jason Anderson
Denise Balkissoon
Jack Batten
Douglas Bell
Ryan Bigge
Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall
Jake Bogoch
Susan Bourette
Allan Britnell
Aaron Broverman
Ian Brown
Andrea Carson
Susan Catto
Sasha Chapman
James Chatto
Andrew Clark
Trevor Cole
Andrea Curtis
John Degan
Wendy Dennis
Mike Doherty
David Eddie
Myles Estey
Janine Falcon
Moira Farr
Kisha Ferguson
Liza Finlay
Charles Foran
Alison Garwood-Jones
Curtis Gillespie
Don Gillmor
David Gilmour
Michael Grange
Marjorie Harris
Waheeda Harris
Gerald Hannon
David Hayes
Jacqueline Hennessy
Robert Hercz
Catherine Hernandez
Marni Jackson
Gare Joyce
Viviane Kertesz
Kateri Lanthier
Guy Lawson
David Layton
Benjamin Leszcz
Carla Lucchetta
David Macfarlane
Jason McBride
Duff McDonald
Matthew McKinnon
Paul McLaughlin
Celia Milne
Hal Niedzviecki
Chris Nuttall-Smith
Katrina Onstad
Patricia Pearson
Diane Peters
Kim Pittaway
Terry Poulton
Philip Preville
Jacob Richler
Lee Romberg
Amy Rosen
David Sax
Mark Schatzker
I.J. Schecter
Johanna Schneller
Tim Shuff
Alec Scott
Christopher Shulgan
Russell Smith
Shaun Smith
Heidi Sopinka
Olivia Stren
Jay Teitel
Micah Toub
Ellen Vanstone
Anna-Kaisa Walker
Paul Wilson
Dylan Young
Related posts:


Roundtable created to recommend how Ontario can fix flaws in blue box program

Citing continuing "glaring flaws" in the Ontario blue box recycling program, Magazines Canada has announced the creation of a roundtable to make recommendations to the province to change it . Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, John Gerretsen released a discussion paper on the Waste Diversion Act on October 21 for public consultation.

The proposed roundtable will reach beyond magazine companies and include printers and representatives of other print media. But the time for consultation is short; the province has given respondents only until January 15 to submit comments.

“We welcome the Minister’s initiative,” said Magazines Canada CEO Mark Jamison. “This is an opportunity to address the glaring flaws of a system that, among other concerns, does not ensure that foreign publishers pay any share of the blue box program. The results of this exercise will undoubtedly have implications for all such programs across the country.”

Canadian magazines take waste diversion responsibilities seriously and pay their way in blue box programs [said the release]. Magazines Canada will approach this consultation with the view that a cost efficient and effective program within which everyone pays their share and does their part is the fundamental basis upon which the Minister’s goals for success can be achieved.

Related posts:


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wannabe a magawards judge? Here's
your chance

The National Magazine Awards Foundation is accepting nominations from the Canadian magazine industry for jury members for the 32nd annual National Magazine Awards. Individuals interested in judging should send names and a brief description of relevant expertise to NMAF Communication Manager Richard Johnson at staff[at] by October 31. The NMAF’s judging guidelines are available online. Each year the NMAF relies on over 200 volunteer judges to evaluate and nominate great Canadian magazine content from across the country. The 32nd annual NMA gala will be held on June 5, 2009.


OMDC planning document notes challenges magazines share with other media

Magazine publishers in Ontario would do well to look over a recently published document from the Ontario Media Development Corporation. The OMDC has always been weighted a bit heavily towards its origins as the Ontario Film Development Corporation, but it is good to see that their planning document "towards a strategic plan" gives due attention to magazine publishing and other media as well. Their "client" media share many of the same challenges -- including company size ( e.g. not having economies of scale), globalization and emerging new technologies. You can read the whole summary document here.

Making fashion mag where fashion
shopping is done

The British fashion weekly Grazia, published by Bauer Media, is trying audacious move that is apparently intended to engage with readers -- it is moving offices for a week and producing the next weekly issue in a west London shopping centre.

According to a story in UK Press Gazette, computers, telephones, fashion cupboards and a photographic studio will all be shifted to a perspex pod in the centre's atrium and shoppers will be able to watch every move that the 46 Grazia staff make, including fashion shoots, castings, product testing and job interviews. The resulting week's special edition will be called Grazia Live.

Grazia editor-in-chief Jane Bruton said: "Some people might think that moving to Westfield London for one week and producing a magazine there is a mad idea... and it is. But the Grazia team like nothing better than leaping into the unknown, so we're up for the challenge.My only worry is having to send out regular search parties to drag my staff out of all the shops."


Monday, October 20, 2008

subTerrain turns 20

subTerrain, the literary magazine of “strong words for a polite nation,” celebrated its twentieth year in print last week at Cafe Montmartre on Main Street in Vancouver. Brian Kaufmann, the never-aging publisher of both subTerrain and the equally venerable Anvil Press, had a seat at the table selling copies of Number 50 as well as some handsome T-shirts which (I discover as I write) are not yet available on the website—soon, no doubt. Among the outlaw writers present was Daniel Francis, venerable editor of the Encyclopedia of British Columbia, and more recently author of Red Light Neon, a history of the sex trades in Vancouver. Francis gave a reading from his contribution to the new issue of the magazine, an amusing and thoughtful meditation on “The Best Place on Earth,” the nausea-inducing provincial slogan for B.C. coined by the Liberal government. The place on earth in which the friends of subTerrain had gathered on a rainy night was, on the other hand, certainly “good enough, maybe even great.” Music was provided by Sandy Bone and the Breakdown, who played magnificently on into the night. subTerrain publishes three times a year and has a circulation of 4000.

CDS global teams up with Magazines Canada on national co-op DM promotion campaign

CDS Global, the fulfillment giant, has entered into a multi-year partnership with Magazines Canada in support of the association's highly successful cooperative direct marketing campaign. According to a release, CDS will provide subscription fulfillment for the entire campaign, which represents up to 200 English- and French-language titles in the Buy 2, Get 1 Free promotion.

What's noteworthy is that this means that CDS services, will now be working with some very small titles, in addition to larger magazines that are its traditional customers. Almost every CDS client in Canada in a member of Magazines Canada.

The cooperative direct marketing campaign distributes approximately 1 million pieces – including up to 300,000 by direct mail – to households across the country. Last year's campaign generated 11,161 subscriptions and pay-up rates of over 91 percent.This year's campaign is expected to generate 12,250 subscriptions from 4,100 respondents from January to March, with 2,050 coming in by mail, 410 by phone and 1,640 via the Internet.

“By working cooperatively as an industry, we achieve notable successes and efficiencies,” says Barbara Bates, Magazines Canada’s director of Circulation Marketing.

“CDS Global is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Magazines Canada – on behalf of all participating Canadian magazines – to help streamline the flow of information and build on the success of this important marketing campaign,” says Scott Bullock, vice president of Sales & Marketing for CDS Global in Canada.

CDS Global (which advertises on this blog) maintains offices in Markham and Montreal; the company is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, with facilities in Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Learn more at or at

Magazines Canada's membership accounts for over 90 percent of all Canadian magazines circulated in both official languages.


Magazine world view

Readers feel squeezed, but so far sticking with high-end glossies

While a pessimistic pall seems to hang over the magazine industry in some quarters, there is a view that one of the things that will save some magazines in times of tight money and advertiser skittishness is the tight relationship they have with their readers. An article in the Observer, from Britain, suggests that not only are magazines good value, but that readers will be reluctant to give them up even in harder times. Glossy magazines so far seem to be riding out the storm.
'Monthlies are in a good place because they are hugely good value,' [says media Alan Brydon, head of press communications for Media Planning Group] Women are not going to sever the special emotional connection that they have with glossy magazines, even if they are feeling the pinch, 'for the sake of £3'.
The magazine Elle surveyed 4,000 readers and found that they were determined to keep shopping, therefore determined to seek out things like beauty products that are featured in magazines. It showed that 33 per cent of respondents' clothes-shopping habits remained unaffected by the crunch and 42% said they would sacrifice a night out in favour of shopping.
'But they are being a lot more elegant in the way they buy. The huge flurry of instant gratification shopping in the lunch hour - I don't think they are going to be doing that anymore,' [editor-in-chief Lorraine] Candy says.
High-end advertisers are not being quick to give up their positions at the front of high-end magazines, so far.
To do so could mean that they lose their slots for months, if not years. 'It is almost like a nuclear deterrent. You can't be the first to blink,' says Brydon.
Nicholas Coleridge, the managing director of Condé Nast in Britain, says he expects next year to be "challenging", but the company is forging ahead with plans to launch not one, but two high-end magazines.
'A lot of it is about dreaming,' says Jeremy Langmead, editor of upmarket men's title Esquire, who predicts magazines will provide more of that next year. I am not going to rent Richard Branson's house on Necker Island, but for 10 minutes I am going to imagine I am lying on that beach.'


Friday, October 17, 2008

Downtown park being named after late, great June Callwood

A park in Toronto, especially designed to serve toddlers and their caregivers, is being named after the late magazine writer and crusader, June Callwood. It's just south of Fort York and connects the fort to the lake. Nice to see such a tribute. [Thanks to for alerting us to this.]


The wayback machine

From time to time, we look back to see what was happening around this time a year or two ago.

A year ago...
Two years ago...


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Drawing entries

I suppose it is only fitting that illustrators should be expected to put out some first-rate material to invite entries for the annual compilation of the Society of Illustrators called Illustrators 51 (for which Canadian illustrators are welcome). But, oh boy, what a nice piece of work John Cuneo has done with the poster, which can be downloaded as a pdf. Above's a detail: (thanks to the blog Drawn! for bringing it to my attention).


Quote, unquote: Playboy's layoffs

Not even nekkid women can convince people to buy magazines these days.
-- Manhattan media blog Gawker, reporting Playboy's cutting of 80 jobs to save $12 million.


Spun sugar coating won't hide bad magazine news

Dylan Stableford, a columnist for Folio:, asks an apt question about the "happy talk" approach of such organizations at the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) and American Business Media (ABM) in reporting what are -- by anyone's definition -- lamentable information about the state of the U.S. magazine industry.

He says that the organizations do no one any good by "burying the lead", such as emphasizing a few pieces of good news while downplaying the 8.8% decrease in rate-card-reported advertising revenue in the 3rd quarter of the year.

(The only reason we don't see this in Canada, of course, is that we don't have the equivalent of the Publishers Information Bureau publishing such comparative data for Canadian titles.)

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Ontario says magazine support so far this year tops $1.3 million

The Ontario government has so far this fiscal year invested $1.3 million into the Ontario magazine publishing sector, including $862,500 that has gone to 37 Ontario-based publishers for various strategic initiatives through the OMDC Magazine Fund, according to a release from the Ontario Media Development Corporation. (OMDC is an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Culture and concerns itself with all cultural industries including film, television, book publishing, electronic media and sound recording as well as magazines.)

Other funding went to industry associations such as Magazines Canada's direct marketing campaign, support for Word on the Street book and periodical festival and in support of Magazines University, a joint venture principally of Masthead magazine and the Canadian Business Press.

According to a study commissioned by Magazines Canada, with funding assistance by OMDC, the value of the magazine sector in Canada is $1.56 billion and Ontario has over 75% of the activity (jobs/revenue) and exports more than half of magazine production to other provinces and territories.


PWAC executive director Degen named literature officer of the Ontario Arts Council

[This post has been updated] John Degen, the executive director of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) is leaving the organization to become the literature officer of the Ontario Arts Council. He replaces the retiring Lorraine Filyer.

We read about it in a posting on the Creators' Copyright Coalition website (which is somehow fitting, since Degen has been an outspoken champion of copyright issues* on behalf of Canadian writers). As far as I know, the OAC has not officially announced the appointment.

The OAC position is one of the lynchpin positions in the cultural arts, not least because the literature office ministers to the majority of literary and cultural magaiznes in the country and dispenses some $450,000 annually in grant support.

[Disclosure: I recently completed a review of the grants to periodicals program on behalf of the OAC.]

PWAC will certainly miss the good-humoured management of Degen who is also a poet and novelist of some note and, before joining PWAC, was a staffer with Magazines Canada.

*In fact Degan gave a hint about his new position yesterday with a post on his website in which he said he would be pulling back from the copyright wars somewhat.
Not only am I tired of the struggle over copyright in this country, but I have a need to officially pull back from the debate. My opinions about reform have not changed, but I am going to be working for creators in what I hope is a much more effective and meaningful way.
Degen is the author of a novel The Uninvited Guest (Nightwood Editions) and two books of poetry: Killing Things and Animal Life in Bucharest. He has published work in Taddle Creek, blood + aphorisms, The Fiddlehead, Queen Street Quarterly and The Walrus, and is a frequent reviewer for THIS Magazine.

[UPDATE: The Ontario Arts Council has officially announced Degen's appointment, freeing him to make his own announcement on his website.]

Related stories:

Labels: folds in the face of industry fury

A brief item on its website signals the end of the pirate magazine-sharing site It was re-published on Folio: today. While this particular site is gone, no word on what the industry is doing about other sites like this one.

Related posts:

Rogers sells Ontario Out of Doors to Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Rogers Publishing has sold Ontario Out of Doors magazine to Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. The magazine has been closely associated with OFAH and the magazine is said to be going to carry on with much the same management team, according to a memorandum to staff from Marc Blondeau, Senior Vice-President, Consumer Publishing.

Originally founded in 1969, OOD was purchased by Maclean Hunter in 1985. The December 2008 issue will be the final one produced by Rogers, Blondeau said.
I would like to stress that this decision was made following careful review of our long-term business strategy. We remain focused on growing our portfolio of brands in a strategic manner. We have absolutely no plans to sell any other properties.
Ontario Out of Doors principal competitor has been Outdoor Canada magazine, published by Transcontinental Media.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

U.S. TV Guide was sold for $1 plus
its liabilities

There's a lot of hidden meaning in the term"conditions of the sale were not disclosed". This week, Macrovision "sold" the print edition of the U.S. version of TV Guide magazine, as reported in an earlier post. But, according to a posting on, based on an SEC filing, the price was...$1.
Wow, we knew Macrovision (NSDQ: MVSN) was desperate to get rid of the print version of TV Guide, but didn’t know the extent to which it would go to the liabilities off its books: we reported earlier this week that it was sold to PE firm OpenGate the price has come out in an SEC filing from MVSN. It is $1, and on top of that, Macrovision is loaning the firm up to $9.5 million, and OpenGate will assume certain liabilities of the TV Guide Magazine business.

...For the first six months of this year, TVG magazine had revenues of $19.77 million and net losses of $1.67 million, according to MVSN’s 10-Qfor the last quarter. We have it from a source that the magazine has a deferred subscription liability of over $50 million, which means they have collected that amount from subscribers for copies not yet delivered, and in theory owe that money back if they stop publishing. So OpenGate has that liability now with this deal, something that MVSN really wanted off its hands.

Access Copyright urging content creators
to register

Access Copyright is urging writers, publishers, photographers and visual artists to register with them so that they can receive payment for secondary use of their work. While registration is free, Access says, reproduction of your content shouldn't be. For more information call 1-800-893-5777 or go online to register as an affiliate.


Thin, light, flexible and not paper

From the BBC, a video story on a plastic "e-paper", a super-thin electronic reader that was developed at Cambridge University and is now going into production in Dresden, Germany. Looks kinda grey to me, but this is probably a future option for some kinds of magazines.


Magazine world view

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Europeans may relax direct-to-consumer drug ad restrictions

European pharmaceutical manufacturers seem to be prevailing in their desire to advertise direct to consumers. The High Level Pharmaceutical Forum, a once-a-year meeting convened by the European Commission, concluded at its recent meeting that "all the relevant players" should be able to provide an improved "quality of information" to consumers – though the forum fell short of supporting direct-to-consumer advertising as practised in the US. In particular, it emphasised the "added value for patients and citizens of providing information on medical conditions jointly with information on treatment options."

This is particularly important to Canada, and by extension to the Canadian magazine industry, because it would then be bracketed by competitors carrying information, if not ads, for brand name pharmaceuticals, something Canadian magazines are not allowed to do. The Health Council of Canada says that, far from relaxing rules on DTCA, Canada should reinforce restrictions. Magazines Canada, on the other hand, estimates that relaxed regulations could be worth up to US$50 million annually in advertising to Canadian publishers.

Canadian publishers have long lamented the fact that U.S. titles coming into Canada, while technically subject to the laws, never see them enforced, and that this inequity is exacerbated by the the dramatic increase of U.S.-based television broadcasting of drug advertisements.

The EU's enterprise and industry minister, Gunther Verheugen, is said to be working on draft legislation suggesting that drug manufacturers be allowed to market their products in an "objective and unbiased" way both in writing and online.