Friday, January 30, 2009

Masthead marks the launch of its final print issue

A friend tells us that Masthead magazine's final print issue was launched last night with an event at a west end pub in Toronto. Over complimentary Swedish meatballs, sausage rolls and chicken wings (sponsored by CDS Global, a consistent Masthead advertiser), everyone drank and talked about how bad everything is for magazines right now.

Among those in the crowd were Megan Griffith-Greene (Chatelaine), Stacey May Fowles (novelist, publisher of Shameless and now also handing circulation for The Walrus) Conan Tobias (Canadian Business), Jessica Johnston (formerly This Magazine, now studying at Ryerson), Jeromy Lloyd (Marketing), Corinna van Gerwen (formerly of Style at Home, now Cottage Life), Scott Bullock (CDS Global) and a few dozen others.

Marco Ursi, the editor (who is carrying on as editor of the online version) characterized Masthead as the Maclean's of the magazine world. Publisher Doug Bennet hinted that Masthead might be reincarnated in a new form one day, and then distributed the final "collector's item" issue.

Related post:

Teeny, tiny and fashionable

Fashion is everywhere, it seems, even in claymation. As a tribute to the late Tony Hart, the man who essentially invented animation using plasticine, Esquire magazine in Britain has taken Hart's best-known character, Morph -- usually seen, um, nude -- and clothed him in the latest togs. According to a story in Press Gazette,
He is seen dressed in the style of designer labels such as Hermes, Gucci and Prada, with each outfit a tiny recreation of the original.

School for Professional Publishing cancelled by Magazines Canada

Magazines Canada has cancelled its annual School for Professional Publishing. Faced with budget cutbacks and travel restrictions among member publishing companies and magazines, it was decided that the comprehensive 9-day professional development workshop, normally held each spring in Niagara-on-the-Lake, will not be held this year. Faculty have been told the workshop is postponed until 2010.

The program, known affectionately by its many faculty and participants as P2, was in its fifth year. It had grown out of the previous Magazine Publishing Workshop, run for some years by Magazines Canada, itself a successor to the Banff Publishing Workshop, started more than 20 years ago.

Disclosure: I was the curriculum coordinator for P2.

Fitness mag hits on celebrity wrestler signing promotion

Celebrity authors are fairly commonplace, as are (we suppose) celebrity wrestlers. But celebrity magazine cover subjects who are women wrestlers are less common and it's rare that magazines in general have "signings".

However there was such an alignment of a star and her fans at Indigo Books and Music in Toronto this week as Trish Stratus, the seven-time WWE women's wrestling champion, signed copies of Inside Fitness magazine.Inside Fitness is published out of Oakville by IFM Media Inc.

According to a story in Canoe's Slam Sports, Stratus is the first wrestling personality to appear on the magazine's cover and Inside Fitness publisher Terry Frendo sounded only a little defensive when explaining why she was there.
"The cover you see was a fun shot that really kind of caught people's attention and for us it was a no brainer to use it," Frendo said. "When we looked through the photos, it was a real winner because it had something that was appealing to everyone. Trish is definitely known for her good looks and we didn't want to alienate males or females or anyone like that. We wanted to have a nice photo that was attractive to everyone."

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Canadian Homestead rebrands
as Canadian Home Trends

Canadian Homestead magazine, the Manitoba-based shelter and design title, has rebranded itself Canadian Home Trends. The new look and name is being unveiled for the February/March issue, although the transition has already begun on the magazine's web pages.
"The new name, Canadian Home Trends better represents our classy and modern urban magazine our readers have grown to love and the great Canadian content and chic designer spaces featured in our high gloss publication," said editor Mark Atiyolil.
The original name was always a bit of a misnomer, speaking less of Debbie Travis and sprontzy kitchens and more of roughing it in the bush.

Founded in 1997, the magazine is published bi-monthly out of Blumenort, Manitoba. The magazine is aimed at decor enthusiasts and casts a fairly wide net editorially, covering renovations, decor and design, gardening, food, travel and education. The company also publishes a wedding magazine.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quote, unquote: sheltering from the storm

The only real pattern I see is business at its most basic: In a downturn, there's only room for the category leaders; the fringes fall away fast. And the more diversified your business is, the less you're about one thing, the better you'll weather the storm.
-- Kate Kelly Smith, vice president and publisher of Hearst's House Beautiful, quoted in a story in Folio: about "diverse" shelter magazines doing better than "one style" titles.


U.S. magazine startups steady in 2008

Some good news comes from Samir Husni, the "Mr Magazine" of the University of Mississippi whose tally of magazine startups shows that slightly more new magazines were launched in the U.S. in 2008 than in 2007.
Our final tally of new magazine launches reveal that in 2008 a total of 715 new magazines were launched compared with 713 in 2007. Of note is that this number exceeds all predictions (including mine) that the number of new launches in 2008 will be down. Of more interest is the number of new launches 20 years ago totaled 491 new magazines. Of course, for those of us with short memories, there was no internet in 1988.

While the number of magazines published with a 4x frequency or more continues to witness declines in the last few years, the number of annuals and specials are on an increase. Publishers are finding solace in all those book-a-zines in which the cover price ranges from $9.95 to $14.95. Even the annuals have taken a back seat to all those specials that have no frequency commitment (lovingly referred to in our industry as one-shots).
He also provides a chart showing the trends of magazine launches of various frequencies over the past 20 years:


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Three primary roles in serving your audience

Although he's principally talking about local websites, dailies and community newspapers, Steve Yelvington has put up a thought-provoking post on his blog illustrating three roles that he says every successful publication, local or otherwise, needs to fill: Town Crier (which most are good at), Town Square and Town Expert (the latter two, not so good).

What he is talking about relates just as well to local and regional magazines and the way in which they should be thinking about their readers, both in print and online.
News is not enough. Doing the same thing better and faster is not enough. It's time to look left and right at what's not being done.


Media world view

Time Inc. holds back popular titles in retaliation for wholesale surcharge demand

It's one thing to ask, another to get, particularly when it comes to as big and important a U.S. magazine publisher as Time Inc. Recent announcements from two big, U.S. magazine wholesalers were that they were going to tack on 7 cents to every copy they sold on newsstands. Mediaweek has reported that Time Inc. struck back saying it was not going to provide Source Interlink, one of the wholesalers, with any copies of next week's issues of Time, People and Sports Illustrated plus other titles.

While Patrick Bowman, vice-president of category management for Anderson News Co., which first announced the surcharge, says that "quite a few" publishers have agreed to the fee, the whole issue is becoming quite tense. Anderson not only was somewhat preremptory in the way it announced the surcharge (saying, essentially, take it or don't be distributed) but it also published a four page statement slamming "misconceptions". It said that the 7 cent surcharge would cost the industry about $152 million and that it was critical to keep wholesalers solvent.
Time Inc. hasn’t determined whether it will use rival wholesalers or other companies to replace Source and how it will respond to Anderson’s fee demand, the source said. But close observers of the industry have said it’s highly doubtful magazines could replace a major wholesaler’s place in the distribution chain, pointing out that competing wholesalers would face the same financial challenges that led Source and Anderson to demand the 7-cent fee.
Related posts:

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Reader's Digest worldwide cuts back, imposes unpaid vacation

Employees of Reader's Digest Association, including its Canadian division, will be sharing a certain amount of pain as part of the company's "recession plan", according to a memorandum circulated to all staff by Mary Berner, the company's president and CEO. Not only are 8% of employees to be let go, but most who remain will be forced to take one week of unpaid vacation. The so-called "shutdown days" are a significant part of the company's strategy to meet its financial challenges, she said.

Referring to "negative trends" that started last summer, the memo said that print advertising was down sharply in fall and winter. The company anticipates the need to cut costs significantly beyond what it was anticipating in its fiscal 2009 budget.
  • About 8 per cent of 3,500 current full time positions are being eliminated. U.S. layoffs will be announced tomorrow; for international divisions by March 15;
  • All cash incentive programs will be suspended until further notice;
  • No merit increases will be given through the 2010 fiscal year;
  • U.S. operations will shut down for mandatory, unpaid vacation days that will total one week over the next year. Similar unpaid vacations will probably be imposed in international divisions, including Canada;
  • In the U.S., the company is suspending immediately its "matching" contributions to voluntary 401k plans (the equivalent of company-run RRSP plans in Canada). The plans will continue to operate, but only employees will make contributions;
  • Travel will be curtailed and what air travel is done will be economy class
"I am profoundly disappointed that the economy plunged just as RDA was in takeoff mode with its growth plans and that we have to say goodbye to friends and colleagues whose jobs are being eliminated," said Berner. "But it is our responsibility to deal with the reality that is in front of us, and I pledge to you that we will do just that. The Executive Committee and I are unified in the commitment to win despite the economic challenges, and I hope you will be too."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

PAP topped up as part of federal budget

It appears that lobbying by the magazine industry has resulted in $15 million being injected into the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), replacing the contribution that was being withdrawn this spring by Canada Post. The funding is part of a substantial $335 million in new funding flowing to Heritage as part of the "stimulus" budget.Representatives from the industry have been vigorously arguing that, if Canada Post must remove the $15 million, Heritage should replace it. That's apparently what's happened.

The proposal by Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore has been to roll the PAP and the Canada Magazine Fund into a single, $75 million, envelope -- the new Canada Periodicals Fund (CPF).

That new fund has been approved as policy, and the commitment for the funding is for two years while the details of the new program are worked out. That means, for magazine clients of PAP and the CMF, it will be business as usual until April 2010 when the new program begins.

"We're very appreciative of the support we're getting. Clearly this minister is being listened to where it counts," said Magazines Canada president Mark Jamison.

Now, the magazine industry will want to make its voice heard in the development of the new program so that the $75 million is retained (that is, so the whole is not less than the sum of the parts) and, it would be hoped, enlarged.

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CanGeo loses EIC Rick Boychuk;
McKelvie goes to New Internationalist

Rick Boychuk has been quick to say that it was his choice to leave as Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Geographic after 13 years. But he was the last of the original management and senior executive team in place when André Préfontaine took over as publisher in 2006. (A lot of those departures have been dealt with in previous posts such as this one.)

Ian McKelvie, who was director of marketing for Canada's National History Society, publishers of The Beaver and Kayak, has left to become publisher of the New Internationalist, where he was circulation director at one time. McKelvie, who was one of the first of the management team at Canadian Geographic to be shown the door (see item above), is one of the country's best and most creative circulation people.

News Group won't surcharge on single copies, at least for now

One of Canada's two largest magazine wholesalers, the News Group, is not following the lead of two of its largest U.S. counterparts in adding on a surcharge to single copy sales -- at least for now. This, according to an item in the usually reliable column by Keith Kelly in the New York Post.

Last week, Anderson News and Source Interlink -- together representing half of the magazine distribution in the U.S. -- announced that they would be adding 7 cents to every copy, starting February 1. In addition, Anderson said it intended to shift responsiblity for the cost of scan-based trading to publishers.

While News Group President Glen Clark agreed that all wholesalers need help, he pledged his company won't impose a price hike similar to ones proposed by Anderson News and Source Interlink Cos.

"The wholesalers need help, there is a serious issue," said Clark, as he touched down in Vancouver after huddling with publishing executives and magazine distributors in New York yesterday.

"Charlie Anderson [CEO of Anderson News] is basically right, but we feel we'd like a negotiated solution," said Clark, who noted that while he won't impose a hike on Feb. 1, he can't rule it out down the road.

Magazine publishers are, naturally not happy about the surcharge.

"This is a giant Ponzi scheme," complained one publishing source, who said the only way the surviving wholesalers have stayed in business is by "stealing each other's customers to increase their cash flow."
Related posts:

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Geez runs intriguing write-your-own-sermon contest

This Magazine drew to our attention the creative and somewhat wacky contest being run by the iconoclastic Geez magazine:
Our friends at Geez magazine, the cheeky Winnipeg publication for "the over-churched, out-churched, un-churched and maybe even the un-churchable," is running a contest that may be of interest. The Daringly Awkward Sermon Contest — "because social change is a bit awkward" — runs until February 28, with the winning entries published in their spring 2009 issue. The details:
We want sermons that explore the awkwardness of too much privilege, right-wing relatives, the drunk stranger in the back pew, our pad in the comfy end of the global village, litter in the poor part of town.Maybe the key to social change and spiritual growth is found in stumbling, fumbling, oafish awkwardness. Our pulpit awaits.

Amen, brothers and sisters. We look forward to reading these.

(It's being noticed quite far afield, too.)

There's no telling where a magazine article can lead...

We saw a mention the other day about how an article about changes in museums, written for The Walrus magazine, published in June, 2007, forms the basis for a lecture at the University of Iowa by former Montrealer Adam Gopnik. He is The New Yorker's art critic. This raises anew the question about how important the work of magazine journalism is in generating new ideas. What recent Canadian magazine articles have generated books, movies and even lectures?

Who will be this year's outstanding achiever?

The Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement is among this industry's highest honours and a note from the National Magazine Awards Foundation reminds us that the deadline for nominating this year's recipient looms.

The deadline to submit nominations for the 2008 Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement is March 1, 2009. The award is open to circulation experts, editors, marketing, sales and promotion professionals, publishers, designers, production managers - in short, to everyone in the Canadian magazine industry. It cannot be given posthumously.

A nomination consists of a cover letter indicating the name, title and bio of the person to be nominated, and must be supported by letters of reference from at least two other individuals. Visit our website for more information.

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Quote, unquote: involvement versus distraction

"One of the advantages of reading a magazine is that you're less likely to be distracted in terms of multi-tasking. So you can get some great involvement."
-- Mike Welling, president and brand strategist at Doug Agency, which created a magazine campaign for Clover Leaf tuna. As reported in Media in Canada.

Magazine world view

Total Canadian ROP pages, measured by LNA, down 9.2% for 2008

The latest Leading National Advertisers (LNA) data essentially confirms what publishers of mainstream magazines have felt in their bones and seen on their monthly tallies -- ad pages and dollars are down. According to data in a story published by Masthead, total ROP pages were down 9.2% for the year, following a fourth quarter decline of 15.7%.

(LNA dollar figures are based on a varying list of magazines that subscribe to the service and multiplying their pages by the published rate card rate, including rate increases,so need to be taken with more than a pinch of salt. However, over time, it can be a useful indicator. Last year's revenue decline It shows that 2008 revenues, even while declining 5.1% from 2007, are 53% higher than in 2000.)

Big gainers were:
  • More magazine (+46%)
  • Moneysense (+11.5%)
  • Westworld Alberta (+9%)
  • Famous Magazine (+8.6%)
  • Glow (+8.4%)
  • Westworld BC (+7.7%)
  • Profit (+7.6%)
  • Toronto Life (+6.1%)
  • Canadian Business (+6%)
  • Elle Canada (+4.2%).
Biggest fall-offs were:
  • Renovation Bricolage (-43.6%)
  • Madame (-39.8%)
  • Homemakers (-34.4%)
  • Tribute (-33.9%)
  • Canadian Home & Country (-27.9%)
  • Les Idees De Ma Maison (-24.6%)
  • Good Times (-24.3%)
  • Inside Entertainment (-23.9%)
  • Tv Hebdo/Tv 7 Jours (-23.5%)
  • Decoration Chez-Soi (22%)
  • Canadian Home Workshop (-21.5%)
  • Fleurs Plantes Jardins (-20.7%)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Phone-app e-zine leads in interesting directions

Digital versions of magazines tend to be made available as pdfs or as websites; some put out mobile versions formatted for personal handheld devices that are usually free extensions of their paid publications.

But there is now a downloadable paid magazine application for the iPhone, an e-zine called The Magazine being offered for $1.99 on iTunes; the magazine itself is not very good (sort of a bargain-basement Maxim), but looking beyond the content, the idea is worth considering. It's supposed to be a "lifetime subscription" (an issue has 12 pages and very little text), but it's not altogether clear whether it is the lifetime of the issue or for all issues to come.

One can see the day when, like music, magazines could be sold on iTunes as whole issues or individual articles.For text-heavy magazines, I tend to think it's a non-starter; but for shorter, lighter, brighter material, it is one among many things that has potential and is worth exploring. Of course you have to have the right device.


US News rolls out digital weekly

U.S. News & World Report, the number 3 newsweekly in the U.S. has struggled recently, reducing its frequency to monthly and moving steadily towards more and more focussed special issues such as health and education.

Now, in what is described as a "soft launch", it has published a paid digital weekly that returns to "news" roots and is very Washington-centric, according to a column by Jeff Bercovici in Portfolio. It is probably not coincidental that this is happening as the Obama administration is shaking the U.S. capitol by the scruff of the neck.
"We're creating a tailored product for readers that does what the old newsweeklies did, which was to stop time for people and say 'What the heck happened over the last week?' and make sense of it," says editor Brian Kelly.
The digital edition is in pdf format, laid out like a magazine, with a cover and contents page. Since there is not expected to be a lot of advertising support, it cost non-US News subscribers $19.95 a year; subscribers can download it for free. "I don't think the newsweekly concept's outdated," says Kelly.
"I think it's the delivery method that's outdated. To produce a great report, close the magazine on Thursday night and then readers don't get it until Monday -- that's insane."

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Maison et Demeure launch gives French reach to House & Home Media

This week marks the launch of the French companion magazine to Canadian House & Home. Published by House & Home Media, it is called Maison et Demeure and it will contain translated national content from CH&H, with new, original articles by Quebec-based contributors, featuring the work of designers, architects, stylists and chefs from Quebec, all put together by a Quebec-based editorial team.

Design Editor is Anne Côté and Managing Editor Juliette Ruer, working under the direction of House & Home Editor Suzanne Dimma and Publisher Lynda Reeves.

The monthly will have paid circulation exceeding 27,000 during its first year, the company said in a press release, and expected to grow to 58,000 in 2010.
"We're excited that Maison & Demeure has already far surpassed our target subscription goals for the launch issue," says Alex Cooper, House & Home Media's Vice President of Circulation and Strategic Planning. "We hope to become one of the best-selling titles on Quebec's vibrant newsstands with the help of our retailers' vital support."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mark your calendars

Best on Page international ad show

Magazines Canada is presenting its annual Best on Page exhibit of magazine ads from around the world, featuring 150 international award winners. Thursday, March 26 at Maro, 135 Liberty Street, Toronto, 5 - 8 p.m.

It's free, but registration is required (registration closes March 23). There will be cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and attendees, as usual, get to cast their vote for best in show honours.


BPC talks about Canadian Culture

The Book and Periodical Council is holding its first Idea Exchange on Thursday, February 5 in Toronto, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Avenue. The purpose is to discuss "Our Country, Our Culture" — what does this mean to us?" Guest panelists will be:
  • Ken Alexander, writer and ex-editor of The Walrus;
  • Alain Pineau, national director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts; and
  • Noreen Taylor, artist, chair and founder of the Charles Taylor Prize.
  • Moderator will be Wayne Grady, writer and chair of the Writers' Union of Canda.
Tickets are $15. RSVP 416-975-9366 OR

Locked-out Montreal newspaper workers to publish online paper

A friend notes that the workers locked out by Quebecor at Le Journal de Montreal will, like their formerly locked-out counterparts at Le Journal de Quebec, start an online newspaper next week. In Quebec, they published on paper. "It's funny that people that work for a newspaper are going to do an online version of it -- doing that they are almost saying the same thing as their boss."

Although the crux of the labour-management dispute is working hours and pay, management at Quebecor says the union is also being intransigent about necessary changes to working conditions brought on by harder times and changing technology.

The curious case of the peripatetic magazine...

[This post has been updated]A curious story from Bangkok, Thailand. A subscriber-labelled copy of the October 27 issue of Maclean's showed up and was sold at a Bangkok newssstand for 20 baht (about 72 cents). According to a message from Andrew Batt,the editor of The Bangkok Bugle blog:
The thing that makes this unusual is that it had the subscriber information printed on the cover. I've not yet been able to get comments from either the [Thunder Bay] subscriber (I have managed to locate an email address) or Rogers Publishing.

It's entirely possible that this magazine got here by entirely legitimate means. My guess would be the subscriber perhaps came to Thailand on vacation and the copy somehow got left behind and sold on to the magazine vendors at the market by hotel staff. However there may be other less legal and less professional ways in which it ended up quite literally on the other side of the world.

At the very least there are data security implications because, armed with the information on the cover, I believe I could easily access the subscriptions customer service center and redirect future editions.
In a follow-up posting, Batt notes that, not having had a response from the subscriber to his e-mail, was going to send a letter the old-fashioned way. An anonymous comment on the site provided an interesting perspective:
Honey, stop the snowblower for a minute. I got this letter that says our magazine was found in Thailand. You didn't stop by Pattaya on your way to that conference in Singapore, did you? ;)))
[UPDATE: AB says he has found two more subscriber-addressed copies of North American magazines -- one from Los Angeles, one from Chicago.]


Friday, January 23, 2009

A made-in-France solution to the woes of
the print industry

The government of France is taking unprecedented measures to help the ailing French print industries. According to an AP story, French president Nicolas Sarkozy -- consistent with recommendations from a 3-month study of the industry's health released January 8 -- announced
  • Free one-year newspaper subscriptions will be given to all French teenagers on their 18th birthdays;
  • A nine-fold increase will be made to support for newspaper deliveries; and
  • the French government will double its annual print advertising outlay.
In a speech to industry leaders, Sarkozy said it was legitimate for the state to consider the print media's economic situation."It is indeed its responsibility ... to make sure an independent, free and pluralistic press exists,"he said.

In measures to take effect next month, the state will increase its annual support for newspaper and magazine deliveries to euro70 million ($90 million) from euro8 million last year, and spend euro20 million more a year for its advertisements in print publications. The state will also defer some fees the publications face.

One of Sarkozy's solutions to help the industry is a pilot program that will give teenagers celebrating their 18th birthday a free, yearlong subscription to any general news daily of their choice. The publisher is to give the newspapers away, while the state pays for the deliveries.

That initiative appeared designed to assuage industry fears that young readers don't share the same appetite for print media that their parents and grandparents have, denting current and future revenues.

"The habit of reading the press is learned very young," Sarkozy said, while insisting that the aid would only buy time for publishers to adapt to the new media landscape.

The initiative is designed to help the sector over three years "to modernize and invest in the print media sector in exchange for important structural reforms," he said. The measures he announced Friday largely came from recommendations in a three-month study into the industry's health that was released on Jan. 8. The study also recommends that newspapers restructure their finances and that journalists be better trained for multiple forms of media, including online.

"None of the proposed measures ... will be useful in the end if the profession doesn't meet its challenges," he said. "The industry has a future to reinvent. ... Time is running out."

CLB Media closes four b2b titles

CLB Media which, a few years ago, was on an acquisition tear last week closed four titles, according to a posting in mastheadonline. The four titles were:
  • Advanced Manufacturing (9 years old, now included as a branded section in another CLB title Manufacturing Automation).
  • Green Business (launched with some fanfare last year, but apparently a victim of advertisers no longer as enamoured of promoting their green credentials);
  • Network Cabling (serving an audience considered by CLB to be well-served by other titles such as Electrical Business); and
  • Workplace (an HR title that suffered from the common wisdom in the b2b marketplace that you don't want to be #3; as it was, behind Thomson-Reuters' Canadian HR Reporter and the online pub

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Magazine ad decline: the worst may be behind us, says analyst

A leading Wall Street analyst has told his clients that, tentatively, he thinks the worst is behind us for magazine advertising declines. According to a story in MediaDaily News, Deutsche Bank analyst Matt Chesler said in his newsletter that the outlook for Meredith Corporation (Better Homes & Gardens etc.) is cautiously optimistic. (Chesler follows Meredith because it is what is called a "pure play" as a major corporation that concentrates on magazine publishing).

Is Esquire leading the way down the slippery slope?

The current "flap" over the cover of Esquire magazine (see previous post) is raising the question whether such an thing in a "marquee" title will make it much more difficult for other magazine editors to resist such compromising of editorial integrity.

A story in Portfolio quotes Maximillian Potter, executive editor of Denver-based 5280 who says:
From a selfish editorial perspective, it becomes extremely difficult for editors at far less marquee brands than Esquire to fight off what may be tempting ethical advertorial compromises when the likes of Esquire appear -- appear -- to be doing it and there is little to zero discourse or ramifications. Not that it's Esquire's problem, but it makes it harder for we little editor guys to stand up to such business-side ideas if presented when the big-boy editors are doing it.
Sid Holt, the CEO of the American Society of Magazine Editors, is curiously quoted saying rather enigmatically both that the cover is in keeping with ASME's ad:edit guidelines and that "it puts us at the top of a slipper slope".
Anything that would suggest the cover of a magazine can be sold to advertisers the way developers sell real estate -- 'will build to suit' -- is cause for concern.
A commenter stakes out another position:
Sid Holt isn't kidding anyone here. The idea that covers are sacred has long ago been sold down the line. With cover wraps, post it notes and false covers, readers have seen plenty of advertising on what is supposed to be the cover. Face it, times are tough. Would you rather be pure, and out of business? What editors need to do is make sure the cover ad is relevant and in the spirit of the magazine.

Wait! That violates another credo of publishing, the separation of advertising and editorial. Should we address that myth now also? -- Jonathan Hutter, Portland, Maine


New look and structure being unveiled at
The Walrus

After a suitable pause for reflection, Walrus editor John Macfarlane and art director Brian Morgan have unveiled a new look and structure in the March/April issue, according to an excellent story in mastheadonline. (The magazine apparently prefers to call the new look for the five-years-plus title a "re-engineering" rather than a redesign, but to an outside observer, when you change the logo, the typography and the architecture and the way you assign, that's fairly sweeping.) Among the things that readers will notice change when the magazine is released February 9:
  • The definite article: the The in The Walrus has been downplayed somewhat, allowing a skybar on the cover;
  • The logotype has been redrawn by French typographer Jean François Porche;
  • A new body face is being used called King's Caslon (Morgan says he wants the text to "disappear" and not draw attention to itself);
  • Covers will have a harder "sell" and be directly relevant to a major feature inside (this is a departure from the style set by founding art director Antonio de Luca);
  • Cover flaps will no longer be used;
  • The magazine content is reorganized in a classic front-middle-back style;
  • The magazine's back page will now contain a satirical comic strip produced collaboratively by writer and playwright Jason Sherman and illlustrator David Parkins.
The way in which stories are assigned and presented will apparently be changing, too. Macfarlane said the mix of stories will improve.
The stories will have more moment. And I hope the consequence is that when you see a story, you’ll know why that story is there at this moment in time.
While Macfarlane joined The Walrus last July on an interim basis after retiring from Toronto Life and on the departure of founding Walrus editor Ken Alexander, he seems quite comfortable and not about to leave anytime soon.
I made no secret of the fact that when I came here, I didn’t know what to expect. I did it out of a sense of obligation to the idea of The Walrus… I felt that this was something I should do and to my great delight, quickly discovered that I enjoyed doing it. So if we are successful in what we are setting out to do here, I could see myself being here for a while. Three years? Five years? Who knows?”
Related posts:


Maclean's and Canadian Business host series of online debates

Macleans and Canadian Business magazines have teamed up to present a series of online video debates about such contentious issues as U.S.-Canada integration, selling water, immigration policy and the carbon tax. The debate videos are sponsored by Microsoft Canada.

The videos, under the umbrella heading "Thinking the Unthinkables" filmed late last year, will be posted every two weeks for the next 10 weeks on and They are moderated by Canadian Business editor Joe Chidley and executive editor of Maclean's Steve Maich.

The first debate, according to a Rogers Publishing release features Andrew Coyne, national editor of Maclean's magazine and James Bissett, former head of the Canadian Immigration Service, wrestling with whether Canada adopt a more wide-open immigration policy.

Another debate asks whether we should erase the U.S. border for the purposes of trade and labour mobility? Jim Stanford, chief economist, Canadian Auto Workers and author, Paper Boom, debates Michael Hart, Simon Reisman chair in trade policy, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University.

Magazine world view

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why circulators go grey

According to a story in Folio:, a man complained in 2007 that he wasn't getting his copy of the bimonthly AARP Bulletin. 18 months later he was still complaining, when suddenly the magazine's circulation department sprang into action and sent him 1,000 copies.
“A mistake occurred when the status of the member’s account was being updated–there is a code (999) that reflects Lifetime Member status and that was inadvertently entered into the number of copies to be delivered instead of the code field,” a spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to FOLIO:.

This time, AARP followed up promptly. The organization dispatched a staffer from its Nevada office to Thomas’ home to retrieve the 999 extra copies. They were to be distributed to various area senior centers and healthcare facilities.


Source Interlink adds 7 cent surcharge, following Anderson's lead

U.S. magazine wholesalers representing more than 50% of single copy sales have now added a 7-cent-per-copy surcharge. A story in Folio: says that Source Interlink has now added the charge, following the lead of Anderson News.
It is unclear whether Source Interlink issued its price increase announcement with as much force as Anderson, which warned publishers they’d be dropped from distribution if they didn’t comply with the new pricing. A Source spokesperson did not immediately return a request seeking comment.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New teen magazine says it focusses on
"positive change"

A Toronto company has launched a digital magazine and website called More2Girls. Its tagline promises something different from typical teen mags: "Because there's more to girls than makeup, hair and clothes".Both the Air interactive application and the magazine are available as a free download.

"More2Girls objective in publishing this magazine is to encourage and inspire teen girls to continue to effect positive change in their schools, communities and the world," says a release. The publisher is More2Girls Inc.

Director of Editorial Hélène Vallée says in the first editor's letter: "Our focus is on the stuff that makes teen girls today such powerful people." Greg Barsoski is director of advertising.


We're BAACCKK! This time promises to get it right

Those who have followed the tortuous, occasionally hilarious, path of, the pirate magazine file-sharing site that was effectively stomped on by the full force of the magazine industry on several continents, will be interested to read an interview with the new team that is promoting an above-board version.

Ontario-based founder and CEO Darren Budd acknowledges his errors:
Bottom line is, we didn’t handle it right. We had a great technical idea, we had a very good site that could be good for the industry, but we didn’t handle it properly, and the way we’re approaching it now, we’ve brought on people who are experts in their field, who know the industry a lot better than we do. And we can stick to what we’re good at, which is vision and technical, and not try to be PR people.

At the end of the day, you can blame anybody you want. We took bad advice and followed it, and I will take responsibility for it.
He says that, with the help of Yoav Schwartz, a former Microsoft manager originally from Israel (now Mygazines’ head of programming) and Pierre Bisaillon - who set up digital magazine company ZMags Inc in North America as a franchise of Danish-based Danish-based Zmags ApS - to be Mygazines’ “VP, Corporate and Business Development”, the idea will fly.

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Shortcovers promises to resell magazine content a piece at a time

Indigo Books & Music, one of Canada's leading purveyors of magazines, is set to launch Shortcovers, a new e-reader application for iPhones, iPod Touch and Blackberries. It would give readers wireless access to sample pages/chapters of books and tastes of magazine articles that they could then buy.

Called by some the "Kindle-killer", it is expected to put a severe dent in prospects for e-book devices like Kindle and to follow a model very much like iTunes. All that remains is approval by Apple for use on its patented devices.

Walter Mossberger, the technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal had this to say about the new application:
Due to show up in the App Store in the next few weeks, Shortcovers is a portal to sampling, buying and reading books, and will have a companion Web site. It will allow readers to get free samples of blogs, magazines and books — say, the first chapter — and then buy either the entire work or other individual chapters or sections, which the company calls “shortcovers.”

The second, called Iceberg, is from an iPhone application developer called Already available, Iceberg offers each book packaged as an individual stand-alone app, with rich navigation features.
Mossberg said that he found using the new applications on personal wireless devices less satisfying than reading on a full-size e-book.
Shortcovers is the more ambitious and creative of the two. At launch, it expects to have 200,000 shortcovers — chapters or other free excerpts — available. About 50,000 of these also will be available for purchase as full digital titles; the rest can be ordered as physical books. Of the digital titles, roughly 15,000 to 20,000 will be older or public-domain books, and the rest commercial books. Typical book prices will be between $10 and $20. If you want to buy paid shortcovers — say a chapter of a business or travel book — the typical price will be 99 cents.
The new device(s) raise anew the question of what rights magazine writers are giving publishers that allow them to resell magazine articles in whole or in part; and what is a reasonable share of the take that should flow to writers.

[Thanks to Kim Pittaway for tipping us to this.]

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Quebecor looks set to lock out
Montreal staff

Having apparently not learned anything from its 16-month lockout in 2007-08 at la Journal de Québec, Quebecor is apparently on the brink of locking out its employees at la Journal de Montréal, according to a posting on Radio-Canada. Which would make one wonder why they're pressing ahead with the draconian contract language with freelancers; the terms don't require them to be strikebreakers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Magazine world view

A journalist's guide to why she's a
convert to Twitter

Freelancer writer and editor Kim Pittaway, former editor of Chatelaine, has become a convert to twitter, the microblogging service. (Careful readers will note that Canadian Magazines also has a Twitter account; first, as research on the 'what-the-heck-is-this-all-about?' vein, but I admit I have become a convert, like Pittaway.)

Pittaway has written an article for J-source that sets out some tips, from a journalist's perspective, for what makes Twitter work, and how to get the most out of the experience.

My favourite line refers to the criticism that this is yet another time-waster and a gift to procrastination:
On the subject of time-sucking procrastination: When I first signed on, I used to scroll back to see what I’d missed since I last checked in. Great way to kill time—and go bleary-eyed. Now I treat Twitter more like a river than a pool: I watch what floats by when I’m signed in, and accept that if I miss something, I miss it. There’s plenty of info-fish in the stream, and I’ll catch something interesting later (to push that metaphor to its limits—and beyond).


Quebecor's TVA magazines demanding freelancers give up all rights

Quebecor-owned magazine publisher TVA Publications is pressing its writers to sign an aggressive new contract in order to work for its magazines.According to a posting on the Fagstein blog,
What’s so extreme about it, sadly, isn’t that it demands complete exclusive rights, including copyright, over all work submitted, or that it demands writers waive all moral rights, or that it demands retroactive rights to all past submitted work, or that half of these demands are so over-the-top that they probably wouldn’t stand up in court.

What’s horrible is that this is for magazine freelancers, who once upon a time were treated with more respect and professionalism than newspaper freelancers.

And what’s worse is that so many aspiring writers are so desperate for a byline and so naive about what it will mean for them that they’re willing to work for peanuts and will sign this agreement without giving it a second look.
[Thanks to Craig Silverman for tipping me to this.]


Rogers offers four day week? Does this
mean 20% less work?

Rogers Publishing, Canada's largest magazine publisher, is asking employees to cut their work week to four days and their pay by 20%. According to a story in the Toronto Star, the plan -- for which employees must apply by January 26 -- is voluntary and those who take it up must commit to it for the rest of 2009.

"The four-day work week offered to publishing employees is purely voluntary and time limited," for 11 months, said Louise Leger, spokesperson for the company.

"Its purpose is to save money."

The company, which owns some of Canada's most read magazines, including Maclean's, Chatelaine, Today's Parent and MoneySense, would not disclose how much money it intended to save with the package, but Leger did indicate that the package was not being offered to other divisions of the Rogers media empire.

Recently Rogers Publishing was among the divisions that laid off more than 100 employees, including a reported 40 in magazine publishing of the company's workforce.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Flapvertising" debuts at Esquire

I'm pretty sure that Harold Hayes is spinning in his grave. According to a story in Media in Canada, the February issue of Esquire magazine has a "mini-cover" that opens up, featuring an ad for Disney's The Discovery Channel series One Way Out, featuring escape artist Jonathan Goodwin.
When readers open the cover-within-a-cover, they encounter both the ad and various quotes from the articles inside.

The idea, created by Esquire's editor-in-chief David Granger, could lead to further covers of the sort in the coming months, and showcase one way that traditional print media are working harder to generate profits.

The ad cost Discovery Channel $250,000, including production and placement.

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Rogers Publishing to launch competitive 50+ site called EverBetter

Rogers Publishing will be going head-to-head with ZoomerMedia starting in April, with the launch of a new site called targetting the 50+ segment. According to a story in Media in Canada, the site's content will use material from other Rogers properties -- both print and web.
"It's just natural to go after that demographic, because they're the largest demographic in Canada right now," says Jean Goulet, executive publisher at Rogers.
Leanne Wright, VP communications at ZoomerMedia, says that ad pages have increased 60%, at with net ad revenues doubling since the redesign of Zoomer magazine (formerly CARP magazine) last October and including additional customers in beauty, fashion and travel.

ZoomerMedia's has about 200,000 unique monthly visits per page, the story says, and about a 60% visitor increase in 2008, compared to 2007; the social networking site has about 55,000 members since it launched.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Canada Magazine Fund SBDMP Applicant Survey

Hi, Jon Spencer here -- with a quick+easy favour to ask of all (fairly recent) applicants to the Canada Magazine Fund's "Support for Business Development for Magazine Publishers" program:

I would be interested to hear whether your applications to this program in the current fiscal year (from April 2008 to March 2009) have been handled as they have been in previous years, or if you have encountered any changes to the approval process. I would appreciate your sending a short email to me -- whether your experience has been good or bad -- at "js.abacus [at]", answering the following questions:

1) In what month did you submit your most recent application to the CMF's SBDMP program?

2) How many times have you applied in previous years (roughly)?

3) How many times have those applications (in previous years) been accepted for funding, and how long does it usually take?

4) Has your latest application been accepted or rejected, or are you still awaiting approval?

5) Briefly describe your experience with your latest application, and (if possible) indicate how it compares with the approval process for applications you have submitted in previous years.

Thank you!

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Can a digital magazine sell out?

Now there's a concept. An e-mail-only promotion from Zinio, offering a $5 discount on digital magazines has the curious sell-line:
"Enjoy exclusive savings on your favorite digital magazines before they are sold out."
Sold out? Digital magazines? Short of refusing to send any more pdfs out, why would a digital magazine ever be sold out?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Where does Andrew fit in?

Lynn Cunningham is well known in Canadian magazine circles, as a writer, editor and professor of journalism as Ryerson University. So many of you will be interested to read a story she has written for University Affairs magazine about the prospects of higher education for her learning disabled step-grandson Andrew. [Thanks to David Hayes for tipping me to this.]

Pew Research says internet preferred source for national and international news

Not that you needed confirmation, but research from the Pew Research Centre says that the internet has surpassed every other source for national and international news, except television. And television can feel the internet's hot breath on its neck.

The internet has now surpassed all other media except television as an outlet for national and international news. Currently, 40% of all the December 2008 survey respondents say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, up from just 24% in September 2007.

For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers. Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news. But among people 18 to 29, television and the internet are tied, as 59%.

Magazines have actually gone up, from 1% to 4% among young people.

The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,489 adults.


Does Canada Post require a radical rethink? asks Maclean's story

Maclean's magazine has run a story (not yet available online) exploring whether Canada Post policy needs a radical rethink. Although the story was sparked by the increase in first class postage rates this week, it also goes into some detail about the controversial decision to introduce distance-related pricing (DRP) for publications mail and pull its $15 million contribution to the Publications Assistance Program, or postal subsidy.
DRP may amount to punishing some Canadians for making their home in rural or remote places. “Are you going to charge somebody a different price to mail a letter based on where they live?” asks Deborah Morrison, publisher of the history magazine The Beaver. It’s based in Winnipeg, but 50 per cent of its readers live in Ontario and the rest are scattered around the country – a reality shared by other magazines.
Canada Post says DRP -- charging more to deliver an Ontario-based magazine to Yellowknife than to Toronto -- is a fair way to operate in a competitive environment.
“The reality is, the farther an item has to move across Canada, the more times we have to handle it,” says Steve Johnson, director of pricing strategy for Canada Post. “This is a much fairer representation of how customers consume resources.”
However, Magazines Canada, the trade association for the industry says DRP is a "revenue grab".

He also says that, for magazines that can’t hack the change, “that’s part of their business model to manage through”.
DRP comes at an inauspicious time. As of March 31, Canada Post will also withdraw its $15 million in annual funding for the Publications Assistance Program. Since before Confederation, the postal subsidy program, administered with Heritage Canada, has helped mitigate the expense of delivering nearly 200 million copies of Canadian magazines and non-daily newspapers a year. “By offsetting the cost of reaching readers,” explains Heritage Canada “Canadians can overcome geographic distances and communicate their ideas, opinions and art through print.”
Canada Post maintains that the PAP contribution is a social policy program, something that's more properly the government's responsiblity.
“This is a unique nation with respect to its postal requirements,” said Mark Jamison, CEO of Magazines Canada. “We have to view our postal delivery system as part of the cultural and social mechanism that helps keep us together. Its as important as building the railroad was.”

Magazines may be forced to shut down, reduce their frequency or pass the increase on to readers via subscription fees, he says. Others may simply drop delivery to locations where they have fewer readers.

“For Canada Post to suggest it has no cultural mandate is something Canadians need to pay attention to,” said Morrison. She argues mail delivery is an “essential service”, comparable to universal health care in a country that has equalization programs to ensure programs benefit everyone.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some well-defined niche magazines buck the downward ad trend

Specialty magazines with a strong subject focus can buck the trend when it comes to the current downward trend in ad pages. According to a story published by Medill Reports in Chicago (a publication of the graduate journalism school at Northwestern University), niche publications -- particularly trade titles serving a particularly well-defined audience -- are showing a good deal of resilience.
“In the case of trade or technical magazines, you’ll usually find ready advertisers, especially if they are directly linked to the focus of the magazine,” said Jim Gross, an analyst for Chicago-based Barrington Research. “That’s what’s called an endemic advantage.”
The story referred to reports this week from the Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) that magazine ad pages were down 11.7% in 2008, or about the same as in the recession of 2001.
The PIB report shows that many specialized magazines, those focused towards a particular audience, are still gaining advertising. Organic Gardening (27.1 percent increase in ad revenues from 2007), Scholastic Parent and Child (46.2 percent increase) and Technology Review (25.2 percent increase) were among the top gainers in terms of revenue in 2008.

Pay an extra 7 cents a copy, or else, U.S. magazine distributor says

We haven't heard yet that Canadian wholesalers will follow suit, but one of the biggest in the U.S., Anderson News, has issued an ultimatum to publishers -- pay a surcharge of 7 cents a copy or we'll stop handling you. According to a column by Keith Kelly in the New York Post, CEO Charles Anderson asked, and answered, the question:
"Why should we continue in a business where we are not making any money?"
He gave publishers until February 1 to agree to the new charges.

Apparently, Anderson says the increase, which would add 3.5% to most magazines' distribution costs -- will translate into $200 million more in revenue for Anderson News. It could translate into up to $12 million in extra costs to teetering American Media and up to $15 million to a title like People. Anderson also wants publishers to shoulder the $70 million burden of handing unsold copies that are returned by some major retailers such as Wal-Mart.While most retailers still work on the relatively primitive sale-or-return basis, larger retail chains use scan-based tracking and only pay for copies that are scanned at checkouts and the unsold copies are returned. Essentially, Anderson is trying to shift the costs of returns to publishers.

Michael Sullivan, president of Comag, a national wholesaler that is jointly owned by Hearst Corp. and Condé Nast, said his clients have no intention of paying.

"As we understand it, Anderson's proposal is a unilateral effort to shift substantial costs to magazine publishers and does nothing to address the fundamental inefficiencies in the newsstand-distribution channel."

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CAPIC hosts panel on image licensing

CAPIC, The Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications, is holding a seminar on January 26 at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto called No Uncertain Terms, devoted entirely to the simplification of image licensing in Canada for those who sell images and those who buy them. The entire seminar will be web-cast, including the Q & A. Moderator Heather Morton will have the ability to accept questions from those who log on across the country. More information. [Thanks, Jess]


No comment

The blog My Hogtown points out the irony of the cover story in the final print issue of Masthead.
North Island Publishing and CDS Global are hosting a reception on Thursday, January 29, 2008 at 5:30 p.m. to mark the publication of the final print edition. It's at the Squire and Firkin pub, 3335 Bloor Street West (nr Islington subway station). 
(This issue will also be the last time my column Good Question runs, too. I'm considering running the column here from time to time should there be interest.)

Shop in your own closet? How depressing!

Writer Rebecca Traister writes in Salon on how glossy magazines are responding to the current parlous economic climate. Good, and in spots funny, piece.
[H]ow does an industry built on a meringue of material aspiration adjust to the fast-deflating circumstances of its readers, most of whom are trying to adapt to the new realities of shrunken 401Ks, foreclosed houses and lost jobs? Can magazines that just months ago were advising people about which eyeball-janglingly expensive luxury cruise to go on, or which multimillion-dollar townhouse to buy, or which Alberta Ferretti dress to covet, suddenly begin preaching thrift?

Do they soldier blindly forward, providing economically depressed readers with the printed equivalent of Busby Berkeley movies and the Ziegfeld Follies? Do they break the bad news swiftly, advising readers on how to rearrange their lives? Or do they gingerly attempt a journalistic triple axel: simultaneously delivering dank reality, aspirational fantasy and useful analysis of what it all means?

If the bunch of magazines sitting on newsstands this January is any indication, the initial acrobatics are going to be ... awkward.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ascent, the yoga magazine, is closing
after 10 years

Ascent magazine will be marking its 10th anniversary as a magazine by publishing its last issue by the end of March, according to people associated with the Montreal-based yoga quarterly.

Started in 1969 as a newsletter, and then a small journal, based out of Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada, Ascent moved to Montreal and launched as an international magazine in spring 1999.

In a newsletter to its readers, the Ascent staff
said that they had determined that the magazine was no longer sustainable in the current environment.
With paper & postage costs increasing, our financial subsidies decreasing, and Canadian culture and magazine grants under threat, the cost of producing Ascent is simply too high.

The magazine is making an appeal to its current subscribers to contribute the balance of their subs and donations besides to paying the $18,000 cost of printing the final issue so that the magazine could go out on the same values of integrity as it has for the past decade.

Ascent has held a unique place in the world of yoga, as a small, independent and non-profit publication, and Canada’s first yoga magazine. Ascent's greatest success has been in supporting people in realizing their potential. With our closing comes a rich story of how a yoga magazine and community has learned, lived and evolved. It has been an honour to do this work.
A press release to be published soon notes that several Ascent columnists and writers will continue to publish titles with its sister organization, timeless books.
The magazine’s eclectic publishing style has earned the respect of the yoga, literary and activist communities, featuring such people as: Yann Martel, Arundhati Roy, Alice Coltrane, Roshi Joan Halifax, bell hooks, Joanna Macy, Geeta Iyengar and David Suzuki.

Ascent has been nominated for numerous awards over their 10 years. They earned 6 consecutive nominations for the Utne Independent Press Award for Best Spiritual Coverage, winning in 2003 and 2005.


Hello! Canada features Obama family
cover story

Hello! Canada magazine shows perfect timing this week with a cover story of Barack Obama and his family, on the eve of the inauguration. I know, I know, you're perhaps up to here with pictures of Obama, wife Michelle and their daughters. But you can't help looking.

Also in the issue, an interview with Obama's African grandmother who says "I am going to ask Barack to work hard to achieve world peace."

Chicago Tribune to sell two versions
of same paper

The decision by the Chicago Tribune to take what it says is an unprecedented step of selling two different formats of its paper -- a tab for street sales, a broadsheet for home delivery -- is but another example of the tumultuous changes taking place in the newspaper industry.

There has always been a strategy of "throwing newsprint at the problem", whether it be to spike the guns of an upstart competitor or to occupy competitive space that would otherwise be occupied by a competitor. (For instance, the Sun papers producing the free 24 hours street paper or the Toronto Star publishing eye weekly.) But the idea of producing the same paper in two different formats is a new wrinkle and would seem to be an inefficient and redundant one.
“Many news consumers have asked for a more convenient version of the paper that contains all of the same great news and information. Starting Monday, we’ll give them what they’ve asked for,” Tony Hunter, the Chicago Tribune Media Group’s president, publisher and chief executive, said in the announcement. “Companies succeed when they leverage strong brands and respond to customer feedback.”
Newsstand and street box sales have only accounted for 9%, or 46,495 copies, of the Tribune's weekday average circulation, according to a story in one of the Tribune's own blogs. By comparison, a free commuter paper called RedEye, which the Tribune launched in 2002, has 200,000 average weekday circulation. So the Tribune is competing with itself with two tabloids, one free, one paid.

As one reader commented: "Why will someone plunk down 75 cents for a tabloid Tribune when the tabloid RedEye, with Tribune-content, is available for free?" Why indeed.

U.S. magazine ad pages down 11.7% in 2008

U.S. magazine ad page results for 2008 show that the number of pages for the more than 230 titles tracked by the Publishers Information Bureau dropped by 11.7% and that only about 18% of titles saw an increase, according to a story in Folio: magazine.

All of the top 12 advertising categories suffered, with the largest being automotive.

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Pages gets a breather; six months to work something out

One of Canada's best independent newsstands and bookstores, Pages Books and Magazines, has negotiated a six-month reprieve on the lease at its Queen Street West location in Toronto. Apparently, according to a story in Blog TO, the outpouring of concern about the looming February 28 deadline has led the landlord to extend the lease to August. This gives owner Marc Glassman more time to negotiate better terms (than the doubling that was proposed) or a new location.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An old story; freelancer goes in from the cold

In yet another lamentable departure from magazine writing, Philip Preville, Toronto Life's politics reporter has left the freelance life for a full-time job. He starts tomorrow as director of public affairs for the Toronto Board of Trade. Its gain is the magazine business's loss, as evidenced by his (last) excellent cover article (not yet now available online) in this month's Toronto Life about Toronto becoming a global financial centre.

Poll results: 61% not pessimistic about Canadian magazines

I don't know about you, but given the long faces I've encountered recently, I thought that the results of the little poll we conducted is reasonably heartening. Readers were asked "How are you feeling about the Canadian magazine industry in the next year?" Here is what they said:

Just expecting to hold our own 45%
Pessimistic 39%
Optimistic & hopeful 16%

Of course this is from a self-selecting sample, but I'll take holding our own over pessimism any day of the week.

Stack magazine sub service jumps the Atlantic to serve up Canadian and U.S. indie titles

About 18 months ago, we wrote about a new UK-based "curated" subscription service called Stack, serving indie-mags out of Britain. A bit later, we noted that at least one Canadian indie title was included -- the  fashion title Worn. At that time, the service offered mostly U.K.-based alternative music titles and a couple of U.S. indies.

Apparently, there was such a huge demand from U.S. customers that it was decided to launch an American version of Stack, based in New England. It carried different titles from the UK version and ships from the U.S. Worn is, so far,  the only Canadian title, but they are apparently looking to be tipped about the best in English-language, independent publishing from the USA, Canada and beyond.
Think of it as a private magazine club that brings a fresh perspective on the world every two months. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who works in editorial, graphic design or advertising – or even a doctor or dentist looking for something fresh to put in their waiting room. If you live in the USA and you’re at all interested in modern storytelling, Stack America is for you.
Subscribers get an envelope containing the 6, 8 or 12 titles they choose and occasional surprises. In Canada, the price is US$119.99. Subscribers let the company know which independent magazines they already subscribe to so they won't get duplicated.

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Canadian Online Publishing awards to be launched by Masthead

Mastheadonline has announced it is to honour Canada’s best online editorial and design work at the inaugural Canadian Online Publishing Awards this fall. It will be open to websites published in conjunction with print magazines, as well as online-only magazines and blogs. An awards website will be launched in the next few weeks with more information on entry, rules, judging, categories and prizes.


Subscribers? We don't need 'em; can't afford 'em

One of the things that magazine people believe, almost an article of faith, is that subscribers beat single copy buyers every time. Not only do you get the money upfront, but you have multiple opportunities to keep those subscribers and you are able to demonstrate to advertisers that these people pay for the privilege of being exposed to their message. And the costs of renewing subscribers decline the longer you keep them.

Well, what to make of the story in Advertising Age that American Media is essentially shedding 325,000 paid subscribers to its Country Weekly magazine in favour of relying on a weekly sale of 75,000 single copies, give or take? They must be sure of their strategy since they are actually offering subscribers a refund or substitute subs to other AM publications like Star, Shape or the National Enquirer.

Country Weekly has been around for 15 years and has had its struggles, not least being its recent biweekly publishing schedule (what don't they understand about "weekly"?). The magazine reported an average of 316,231 paid subs in the first half of 2008, 3% up from the same period in 2007; newsstand sales dropped 19%.

The magazine will be publishing weekly again, at a reduced cover price of $2.49 (down from $3.49) but subscribers? It apparently thinks it can't afford them any more, blaming paper and postage costs and bleak advertising forecasts.