Saturday, February 27, 2010

The New Quarterly launches essay and occasional poetry contests

The New Quarterly magazine has announced two new writing contests that pay the winners $1,000 for "one glorious poem" or "one winning essay". 
The Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest  is sponsored by Kim Jernigan, the longtime editor of TNQ and her family "in celebration of the man who sparked their love of poetry". Occasional poems are defined as being written in response to an occasion, personal or public-poems of gratitude or grief, poems that celebrate or berate, poems that make of something an occasion or simply mark one. The grand prize is $1,000 and a further $1,000 will be distributed as the judges fancy, the magazines says. The winners will be published in The New Quarterly  at its usual rates, and posted on its website. Entry fee is $40 for up to 2 unpublished poems, $5 for each additional. The competition is restricted to Canadian citizens or current residents.
The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest is named for one of the original founders of TNQ, the late magazine journalist, perhaps now best known for her series of "Schmecks" cookbooks. She was also a generous donor, founding many awards, scholarships and bursaries. The contest is financed in part out of a $25,000 gift she gave to TNQ. The winning essay may be any length, on any topic "in which the writer's personal engagement with the topic provides the frame or through-line". Again, it is open only to Canadian writers. The prize is $1,000 and the winning essay will be considered for paid publication in the magazine. Entry fee is $40 per essay. 
In both instances, the deadline is May 1 and decisions will be made by August 31.


Friday, February 26, 2010

ZoomerMedia, publishers of Zoomer magazine, reports six month loss of $1.7 million

ZoomerMedia Limited, the publishers of Zoomer magazine and its co-branded suite of websites, ended the first six months of its current fiscal year with flat revenues and a slightly increased after tax loss. For the six months ended December 31, 2009, the company reported revenues of $5.4 million, exactly the revenues of the comparable six months the year before. Expenses in the first six months were $7.3 million, resulting in a loss of $1.7 million; in the comparable six months ended December 31, 2008, the company  had revenue of $5.4 million, expenses of $7.5 million and an after tax loss of  $1.5 million.

Second quarter revenues were $3.1 million, expenses were $4 million and net loss after tax was $884,136.This compares with the previous year's second quarter results of $2.8 million, expenses of $3.9 million and a loss of $696,299.

Zoomer is published nine times a year, aimed at a mature market, which ZoomerMedia defines as aged 45+. The company claims paid circulation of 180,000 and is estimated to sell about 12,000 on newsstands.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

U.S cellphone data shows more texting than web browsing

Research released by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and reported in Silicon Valley Insider notes that while 86% of Americans now own cellphones*, accessing the mobile internet on them is far less common than sending pictures or text messaging. Only 28% access web pages (it goes up to 48% for 18-29 year olds) and 20% download apps. Older cellphone owners 50 - 64 use text messaging (51%) far more than mobile web (15%).

This is an important consideration for magazines considering major investments in creating mobile-enabled versions of their publications. Looked at another way, there's lots of room for growth, though web-access seems more likely on netbooks and tablets than on the teeny screens of cellphones.

 *About 70% of Canadians 16-60 own cellphones, well down the league tables and lowest among G8 countries and comparable with Vietnam and Mexico. [TSN Canadian Facts] (This couldn't have anything to do with the Canadian pricing of cellphone service and texting, could it...?)

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Masthead brings back cover critique feature

Masthead has brought back one of the most popular features of its late print edition, to its online version with the monthly Cover Critiques. The first is a comparison of the March issues of Flare and Fashion, with guest commenters Arjun Basu, Spafax editorial director, Stacey May Fowles, circulation marketing director of circulation and marketing at The Walrus and volunteer publisher of Shameless magazine, and speaker and former Chatelaine editor Rona Maynard.

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More than 80% of Canadian magazine $2.4 billion in revenues were in Ontario and Quebec in 2008

Some highlights of Statscan's just-released comparative data for the periodical publishing  industry in Canada for the year 2008:
  • Total operating revenues for the periodical publishing industry reached $2.39 billion in 2008, up 1.2% from 2007. Operating expenses totalled $2.10 billion, up 0.1% from a year earlier. As a result, overall operating profit margins increased to 12.3% from 11.3% in 2007.
  • Just under thirty percent of industry operating expenses were spent on salaries, wages and benefits, which rose 3.4%to $620.7 million.
  • The ten largest publishing companies accounted for just over half of industry operating revenues ($1.34 billion), and 79% of industry profits. These companies recorded an operating profit margin of 17.4%, up from 16.2% in 2007. By comparison, the remaining companies posted a operating profit margin of 5.9%in 2008, up from 4.8% the previous year.
  • Firms located in Ontario and Quebec accounted for the majority of the industry’s operating revenues. Ontario firms accounted for 58.1% of total operating revenues in 2008. Quebec firms accounted for 22.2%, while those in the Prairies represented 10.3%.
  • Average spending on periodicals was very stable, around $60 per household, from 1999 to 2005.
  • Average spending on periodicals which had been steady around $60 per household, from 1999 to 2005 declined to $47 per household between 2006 and 2008, according to Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending.


New company responsible for research and compilation of Globe's Canadian University Report

Responsibility for the Globe and Mail's annual survey of student higher education rankings has now been shifted to a new company called Higher Education Strategy Associates.
The company's president, Alex Usher, previously with the Toronto office of the Virginia-based Education Policy Institute, has announced that EPI Canada has closed its doors and, in its place several new Canadian-based ventures are starting up, run by former EPI staff. Usher will also be writing a weekly online column called Eye on Higher Education.  (From 1996 to 1998, Usher served as a researcher and lobbyist for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and had been director of research and program development at the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation.)
The Globe's annual Canadian University Report survey is a direct print and online competitor of Maclean's magazine's annual university rankings. The survey itself has been administered by polling firm The Strategic Counsel; Higher Education Strategy Associates had been responsible for compiling other data, mostly from public sources, to augment student responses.Now it will be responsible for all research and data. The Strategic Counsel is no longer involved.
  Usher says in a release, the survey will be revamped to make it shorter and more relevant, providing "new and innovative information beyond simple measures of satisfaction."

Onwards and upwards: Canadian Magazines is 5 years old today

Today is the fifth anniversary of the launching of the Canadian Magazines blog. In that time there have been almost 4,190 posts and almost 922,000 page views, which tends to belie any scepticism about whether there is interest in the Canadian magazine industry. 

Since the very first post, it's been our intention to share information with people as interested in the magazine industry as we are. We've been resolutely Canadian while publishing links to information from around the world that provides intelligence or example to Canadian publishers. Our site traffic has grown steadily, from virtually none to more than 25,000 page views a month today, which is very satisfying.

To mark the occasion, we're republishing a couple of the very earliest posts that started it all. (At the time I wrote them, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.)
February 25, 2005
A response to a recent column in Masthead magazine (Hooked on controlled), in which a veteran circulation manager says controlled circulation is the devil's work:
Like Scott Bullock, I am partial to the traditional paid circulation model, but unlike him I don’t see it as more virtuous or worthy than controlled. Most magazines are in the business of selling readership to advertisers. The central issue for most publishers is identifying and capturing a good audience and being able to prove its existence to the satisfaction of the advertisers. In this, controlled can work every bit as well as paid, sometimes better (after all, a paid audience is self-selecting). Controlled circulation was the inevitable, and elegant answer, to the question: how do we reach and deliver an audience that our best customers, the advertisers, want to pay for?....
[Read the whole  post.]
February 27, 2005
(Some wishful thinking on what seemed then to be a distant possibility then but which is gradually coming to pass -- with the admission of b2b publishers to Magazines Canada, the closer collaboration of MC with the National Magazine Awards and the Canadian Business Press, and the ascendancy of one annual industry conference in MagNet.)
The division of the Canadian magazine industry into several different associations -- consumer magazines, for trade, for editors, for the magazine awards, for circulators, for newsstand marketers -- has always been easy to understand, but difficult to justify. It is quite possible for disparate groups to gather in one place -- witness the Creating Canada conference in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. But maintaining that collegiality and focus seems to be the issue.
With the likely change of name of the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association to Magazines Canada come this June, comes also a first rate opportunity for the creation of a more realistic alignment of the various organizations. Magazines Canada has the potential to be the umbrella organization for all kinds of magazines and magazine organizations. The inclusive name could be inclusive in fact.

The merger of Magazines Canada with the CMPA appeared to be achieved relatively painlessly, at least from an outside perspective. With this, the organization that used to promote the larger consumer magazines continued its promotional role but now on behalf of all consumer magazines, including the predominantly smaller members of the CMPA.
There is no obvious reason why such an umbrella can't cut similar and appropriate deals with almost any existing organization, as it has with the National Magazine Awards Foundation....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Magazine world view: No Magic at Ebony; relaunches; East-West closes; Dow wants to buy other half of SmartMoney


Adbusters imitates the Economist...again

A friend writes:
I was at Indigo today and was briefly fooled by this Economist look-alike by Adbusters. They were racked together in the Current Affairs section, with Zoomer between, so the consumer gets a pretty good side-by-side comparison. I wondered how Adbusters knew what the Economist was going to run, but I guess they were banking on the design being similar to the 2009 issue, or the Economist special issue's been out long enough that Adbusters could see it before going into production. 
Apparently this is not the first time that Adbusters has had an Economist lookalike cover; it happened in 2006 as well.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New magazine Friday Night launched to serve Toronto Jewish community

A new magazine for Toronto's Jewish community called Friday Night has just been launched.
Delivered six times a year, the magazine's stated aim is to provide Toronto's Jewish community with inspirational, thought-provoking, entertaining and useful journalism that is non-partisan.
It will celebrate Jews making an impact on our great city and the traditions and lifestyles that continue to bond Toronto’s historic, growing, thriving and passionate Jewish community.
Based in Thornhill, it is co-published and co-edited by  Paul Grossinger and David Bale. 
The subscription rate for one year (six issues) is $18. The one-time, 4-colour page rate for advertising is not published. Grossinger told Masthead magazine that the premier issue has a print run of 3,000, but their intention is to have 15,000 to 20,000 controlled circulation by the next issue and to move to a paid subscription model by 2011.
The 48-pagepremier edition is available in digital "flip book" form.


Canadian Geographic wins four travel journalists' awards

Canadian Geographic won four awards -- two first place and two awards of merit -- in the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) 2009 awards competition. The awards are announced now, but presented May 11 in Reno, Nevada.
  • Robin and Arlene Karpan won gold for best Landscape/Seascape photography (“Sandland,” March 2009)
  • Lisa Gregoire for best Budget Travel article (“Hut spot,” November 2008).
  • Douglas Hunter, Patricia Pearson and Dawn Calleja won a merit award for their volunteer vacation features in the Travel Series, Circulation Less Than 250,000 category 
  • A merit awards also went to the November 2008 issue -- Canadian Geographic Travel -- in the Travel Magazine category (second only to National Geographic Traveler).
Other Canadian first place winners were
  • Cover Photo, Illustration - Andre Doyon, Spafax
  • Consumer Tips & Advice - Kate Pocock, CAA Magazine 
  • Destination Travel, Domestic Magazine – Michael DeFreitas, Ensemble Vacations
  • Byline Travel Column, Less than 250,000 – John Lee, BC Business Magazine
  • Travel Series, More than 250,000 – Ilana Weitzman, Alec Scott, Charlene Rooke, Spafax 
  • Photography, Overall Excellence - John Cullen, Spafax
Complete list of winners.


Vogue's Anna Wintour to be named to Magazine Editor's Hall of Fame

Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour has been named  a member of the Magazine Editor's Hall of Fame by the American Society of Magazine Editors. She will receive the honour at the annual National Magazine Awards in New York City on April 22.
It’s about time ASME recognized Wintour [says Jason Fell of Folio:]. She joins fellow Hall of Fame inductees including Hugh Hefner, Martha Stewart, Tina Brown and Jann Wenner.


Twitter may launch ad platform next month

Twitter, the microblogging phenomenon, is planning to launch an advertising platform within a month, probably at the South by Southwest conference.
Declining to confirm exactly when Twitter would release the platform, Anamitra Banerji, head of product management and monetization at Twitter, told MediaPost ...that "we are working on an ad platform, but it's only in the test phase."
 There is a suggestion that Twitter may use hash tags in tweets to indicate that the message is an ad. 
Banerji said when Twitter launches an ad platform, the company will make it "explicitly clear that a sponsor" paid for the ad, and make it "relevant and useful, so the user doesn't think of it as an ad."
Banerji called the hash tag ads a "workaround," for now. Twitter engineers have a better idea what will and won't work, he said. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Atlantic Business builds awareness of print creative and fine looking magazine ads, too

Atlantic Business magazine has come up with a nifty way to build awareness and commitment with its advertisers and demonstrate the power and value of magazine creative work, according to a story in Marketing magazine. 
Regular advertisers (those having booked 3 ads between 2009 and 2010) have until the end of February to respond to the statement "Why I believe in magazine advertising". The staff of the magazine will pick the winner and six Atlantic Canada advertising agencies  -- Colour-NL, Extreme Group, Impact Communications, Spark Marketing, The Idea Factory and Spectacle Communications Group -- will create a magazine and online campaign for the winning entry. Then the client and a panel of target readers along with online voters will decide which campaign will run in the May, July and September issue of Atlantic Business. The whole package is worth about $165,000, including the free service and space./div>
Dawn Chafe, editor of Atlantic Business, says the contest shows advertisers that how compelling magazine creative can be and gives participating agencies a way of showing off their creative abilities.
"Advertising in a magazine like ours allows readers to examine the advertising with a depth they can't in any other medium," Chafe said. "And more than anything, our readers, who are [advertisers'] potential clients, don't see advertising as an intrusion on their life. They digest it at their own pace and on their own time and it stays with them longer....Clients often step back from really courageous creative and say, ‘Let's play it safe,' so it may not have the impact it might have had," Chafe said. "But it's written into the contest rules that, if you're submitting, you're relinquishing some of that control."
In the ABM blog, Chafe credits the idea to one of the participating agencies, Colour-NL.
A chance conversation with Sean Charters, vice president and managing partner of Colour-NL, revealed a shared lamentation for the forgotten beauty of print – and sparked a mutual determination to turn things around. The resulting plan, fully developed in less than 60 minutes, is a testament to Charters’ hyper-creative mind, and my own lesser talents as a prolific note taker.

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World's oldest Sunday newspaper, The Observer redesigns

The Observer, the world's oldest Sunday newspaper, is relaunching this weekend and, with it is a wholly new design and a new arts section called The New Review, designed by the paper's creative director Carolyn Roberts. A preliminary look shows that the Berliner format hybrid (newspaper/magazine) has considerable charm. 

You can look at a funny promo video for the relaunch, read the editor John Mulholland on the re-launch and see a video of the paper's writers talking about what the paper means to them.  

Looked at from the perspective of Canada, which doesn't offer a true Sunday quality newspaper, it makes me pine a little for the opportunity. And it is interesting that, far from panicking in the face of the oft-professed but unproven claims of the death of print, the Guardian Media Group is resolutely investing in the future. 


[Thanks to for the images.]

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Maclean's magazine reports on how The Beaver changed its name

Maclean's magazine has published a story on how The Beaver magazine managed its name change to Canada's History. The story, by Martin Patriquin, quotes editor Mark Reid (who, with publisher Deborah Morrison, must be shell-shocked by the worldwide, salacious attention paid to what is, after all, simply a rebranding).
“Yes, I like beavers, the animals, just as much as anybody else,” Reid said recently. “It’s a historic creature, it’s on our nickel, it’s a proud part of the fur trade. But in the 21st century, if you are going to rebrand your entire organization, including all that you do, ‘beaver’ is probably not going to be the word that best speaks to what you do, if you know what I mean.”

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Two examples of how playing well with others seems to be an endangered concept

I've never made any secret of my belief in collaboration in the magazine industry; or in my belief that cooperation makes good sense, financially and in terms of the greatest good for the greatest number. Now, in one day, we have two object lessons in short-sighted thinking in other media to remind us (if a reminder is necessary) of the virtues of togetherness: the announcement that Sun Media Corp. is pulling out of Canadian Press; and the announcement that the Canadian Association of Broadcasters is going to shut down.
The Sun decision, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen, was driven by the penny-pinching ways of its parent Quebecor Media Inc., and was not unexpected. But regardless of whether the decision will save "millions" (as the parent claims) by creating its own news-sharing system, it can only be another blow to quality news delivery. We already have the example of CanWest, which did the same, and CanWest News Services has never lived up to the expectation of its masters in terms of delivering top quality information to readers. Quebecor apparently believes that cooperation is a mug's game.
The CAB decision is the outcome of apparently irreconcilable differences between the broadcasting and cable television portions of their membership. It is the latest fallout from the push by big broadcasters like CTV and CanWest to obtain "fee for carriage", a charge to cable companies to carry their over-the-air television signals. What had been for many years a forum for developing a unified voice and message on behalf of all broadcasters  has now simply fallen apart. Again, short-term thinking in which, having allowed the industry to blow apart, the various parts will now have to find ways to create some new structures within which they can ally to defend their own interests. An unnecessary waste of time and energy that could have been avoided.
Both decisions give a new dimension to the definition of a cynic as someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Not to be too self-congratulatory, but the magazine business has been steadily moving in the opposite direction, towards a more collaborative approach. The merger a few years ago of Magazines Canada and the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association into a reconstituted Magazines Canada is but one example, as well as the closer cooperation between various industry groups -- including the Canadian Business Press and Magazines Canada -- in a large, annual conference. And the close collaboration between the two large industry awards programs -- the consumer-oriented National Magazine Awards and the trade pubs' annual Kenneth R. Wilson Awards. It seems that the magazine industry not only accepts the "big tent" approach, but is working actively to nurture and grow it. Which is something worth celebrating on a day when other media industries seem to have forgotten how to play nice together.

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Magazine world view: Continuing Variety; Playboy up; Lotsa launches

Former publisher of Style launches Trends quarterly for fashion and retail industry

A new quarterly magazine for the fashion and retail industry has been launched by the former vice-president and publisher of Style magazine and Canadian Jeweller, Kait Walker. According to a story in Marketing magazine, Walker believes Trends will be serving a market niche left unserved by the suspension of Style.
"I was looking out for Style to relaunch but it never happened," [Walker] said. "I was getting calls from retailers and advertisers asking me what was going on with Style and telling me there was a real need in the industry for a publication. So I thought, ‘Why not start a brand new magazine and give the people what they want?' "
The magazine, whose first issue was in January, will have a controlled circulation of 7,500 copies and rely largely on a freelance staff. A 1x full page ad for the magazine is $4,400.
"Perhaps down the road I might make it a subscription online service, but right now it's about building the brand," [said Walker].


Thursday, February 18, 2010

MagNet launches 2010 website with details about conference events

You can start planning your agenda for the first week of June, as the new website for Magnet: Canada's Magazine Conference is now available for viewing. The conference is held June 1 - 4, 2010 in Toronto. 
Now in its fourth year, MagNet is a multi-disciplinary seminar, professional development and networking event that is produced collaboratively by Canada’s key industry associations: Canadian Business Press; Canadian Society of Magazine Editors; Circulation Management Association of Canada; Magazines Canada; and the Professional Writers Association of Canada.

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New digital technologies will gobble up to 20% of print business says Transcon head

While Transcontinental Inc. sees the print medium co-existing with new media for a very long time, its chief executive Francois Olivier says he expects that new technology like e-readers will take away up to a fifth of its business in the next couple of years.
He told the Canadian Press in an interview following the company's annual meeting:
"We believe that things like the Kindle (and) iPad are probably going to take anywhere from five to 20 per cent of the printed market away . . . in the next couple of years, so it's a big big big thing for us," Olivier said.
Digital media generated 7% of Transcon's total revenues -- about $150 million last year -- and the sector grew by 30 per cent in each of the last two years. Its email marketing business has doubled its sales annually.
The CP story said that Olivier believes new media will increasingly be used to complement flyer printing, which remains popular and well-read. Next month, Transcontinental will launch a web version called for English consumers and in French.
Transcon remains bullish on printing. Founder Remi Marcoux says that the company will change to meet whatever needs and expectations customers have. He told shareholders
"Transcontinental was born out of change."


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

PWAC launches two major new writing awards

The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) has launched two major new writing awards -- one for feature length stories (over 1,200 words) and one for shorter pieces.Deadline for entry is March 19.
“These awards will showcase the excellence of Canadian writers,” said PWAC President Tanya Gulliver. “Our goal is for these awards to eventually become some of Canada’s premier prizes for writing. PWAC is Canada’s largest organization representing freelance writers, and our awards will celebrate that.”

Entries must have been published in a paying Canadian print or web media outlet in 2009. The first prize in each category has a $500 value, including a free PWAC membership for a year (if eligible).
 Entry requirements are detailed here.


Rogers Communications up in profit and dividend; media division has 6% revenue decline

Rogers Communications Inc.'s media division experienced a 6% revenue decline in the year ending December 31, 2009. The division, which includes the company's magazines and as well as television properties like the Shopping Channel, the Outdoor Life Network, Omni and CityTV and other enterprises like the Toronto Blue Jays, had operating revenues of $1.407 billion, compared with $1.496 billion last year. There were no details published for consumer and trade magazines.

The company's release noted that media operating expenses had also been brought down by 5%, but after various restructuring expenses and other extraordinary adjustments, operating profit had dropped $69 million from $142 million in 2008 to $73 million in 2009.

For Rogers Communications as a whole, including its cable and wireless business, which dominates company results, adjusted operating profit was up 8% from $4.060 million to $4,388 million. Income per share increased 27% to $2.51. The 10% increase in the companies annual dividend met analysts' expectations, as did the $1.35 billion share buyback.
"Against a tough economic backdrop, we delivered solid financial and operating results during the fourth quarter," said Nadir Mohamed, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rogers Communications Inc. "Importantly, the results show a healthy balance of growth, cost control, improved churn and a double-digit increase in cash flow generation."

"2009 was a solid year for Rogers, we returned increasing amounts of cash to shareholders and we delivered on our commitments," continued Mr. Mohamed. "Looking ahead, we are extremely well positioned with a terrific asset mix and strong customer demand for our products and services. The dividend increase and the renewal of our share buyback program for 2010 underline our continued confidence in the strategic position of the Company."

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Wired magazine and Adobe unveil tablet reader that is a "new era of media"

Wired magazine and Adobe Systems have unveiled a tablet application of the Wired Reader. It was not a CGI demo or simulation,  but ran more or less with real content with real copy, created with Adobe InDesign.  
Wired editor Chris Anderson says that the magazine is entering a new media era, with a digital platform that retains all the features of  his glossy print magazine, but augmented with video, animation and full interactivity.
Much is still to be answered about magazines and other media on this emerging class of devices, from the business and distribution models to the consumer response. But what is already clear is that they offer the opportunity to be beautiful, highly engaging and immersive, going beyond what’s available on the web. I think tablets are going to sell like hotcakes, in part because they offer such an intimate, rich media experience. We’re betting big on them, as you can see, but this is just a taste. Stay tuned for a full release this summer.

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Swerve magazine food columnist wins prestigious cookbook illustration prize

Pierre Lamielle, a food columnist for Calgary's Swerve magazine, has won the 2009 Gourmand Awards in Paris, France for his cookbook Kitchen Scraps: A Humorous Illustrated Cookbook. He was competing against 19 other cookbooks from 17 countries, according to a Canadian Press report.
The Gourmand Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau to honour excellence in cookbook presentation. 
"Edouard Cointreau made me deliver the acceptance speech in French," said Lamielle, an adamant anglophone who was raised in North Vancouver and now lives in Calgary. 
As he said in a release from Whitecap Books, his publisher, "I'm not all that French. I just fake it to sound cool."
As he described it in his blog, he was inspired by his magazine column to do the cookbook.
Like most things, Kitchen Scraps was conceived in the Spring. Swerve Magazine is a weekly listings magazine (but it is so much more than just listings) that comes out every Friday with the Calgary Herald.While I was working at the newspaper as a designer and illustrator, the always innovative and inspiring editor of Swerve, Shelley Youngblut, asked me if I would be interested in writing an illustrated food column for Easter. 
“Just do whatever you like, have a recipe and draw something lurveley… and have [it] ready on Monday.”
 His first pitch for the book was unsuccessful before enrolling at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. When he returned to Canada, he pitched the idea again and landed the deal with Whitecap. 

Some samples of his recipes and accompanying illustrations can be found at


Monday, February 15, 2010

Canada's newest gardening magazine,Garden Making, launches this week

The premier issue of Garden Making, Canada's newest gardening magazine, mails its first issue to subscribers on Tuesday -- there's a print run of 34,000 copies, including a 16,500 copy newsstand draw which goes on sale in stores on March 1. The magazine is offering charter subscribers a risk-free, 6 issue trial subscription for $19.95. 

The magazine is very much a family affair. The publisher is  Inspiring Media Inc., a private company based in Niagara-on-the-Lake.) The editor is Beckie Fox, formerly editor of Canadian Gardening. Advertising sales are being handled by Katherine Fox, her daughter. And in the background is Beckie's husband, Michael Fox, senior vice-president circulation and development for Rogers Publishing. 

The magazine's art director is Gary Hall, former deputy art director of Maclean's, who has taught editorial design for the past four years at the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD).


Vancouver's poet laureate boycotts Cultural Olympiad; teaches taxes

Brad Cran, the Vancouver poet laureate, a longtime contributor to Geist magazine and twice the curator of Poetry Bash in the Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival, is boycotting the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad because the organizing committee (Vanoc) forbids participants from criticizing the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Cran had been invited to read a poem at one of the Olympics celebration stages, with the theme of "equality", says a story in the Vancouver Sun
In his website, Cran wrote that, "I didn't think they would appreciate a reading of the one Olympic poem I had written on equality called In Praise of Female Athletes Who Were Told No, for the 14 female ski jumpers petitioning to be included in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver."
Cran said not only is this an "unjust attack on free speech" but Vanoc is misrepresenting Vancouver, which has a "strong history of political activism."
* * *
Brad Cran is more than a poet, he's also a tax accountant and he is offering writers, artists and freelancers of all kinds a 3-hour workshop on the personal income tax return. It's on Saturday, March 6 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Listel Hotel, 1300 Robson Street, Vancouver. The fee is $50 and, as the notice in Geist points out, it is tax deductible.

The Fiddlehead turns 65 and reflects on constancy in a changing world

One of Canada's longest-standing literary journals, The Fiddlehead, has been published since 1945 and this year is celebrating its 65th anniversary. According to a story in the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, editor Ross Leckie says the quarterly journal's slogan is "sixty-five and not retiring".
In the shadow of the Second World War, the magazine was founded by a few Fredericton writers trying to get a sense of the local writing community and who hoped they just might meet writers in other places.

"When The Fiddlehead began, I think there was a sense that Canadian literature didn't mean a lot, it didn't have any cohesive energy. The writers were feeling very much alone," Leckie, who has edited the journal since 1997, says.

"So the journals began in this very simple way."
Leckie says he's content with the relatively small circulation (around 1,000) which he describes as "a full and rich diverse community who read it. If you can find a walk of life, I can probably find a subscriber." And he's not particularly worried about the encroachment of the internet; in fact, he suggests it might actually be good for literature:
"If I'm looking for what's really good in Canadian literature, I'm not going to go to the web, I'm going to go to the top journals. You have to think of it in terms of the reader. If I go on the Internet, I can find a vast amount of literature. But it also means I have to pore through endless gobs of terrible stuff in order to find something useful or interesting. The Fiddlehead is kind of a name that says what you will find in here is of quality."


Friday, February 12, 2010

Startup company claims to measure not only how often a story is read, but its quality

Story Data Analysis 2/3 from Thoora on Vimeo.

Apparently a Toronto startup company, backed in part by Rogers Communications, has come up with a way to gauge audience sentiment that will assist editorial decision-making. A story on Poynter Online profiled Thoora, software that monitors more than 100 attributes and allows ranking not only by popularity, but by quality.
The company said the data could be used to figure out, for example, where to position an article on a page (aiding internal data from Web logs and analytics), how to apportion resources to cover a developing story or even how to follow up on offshoots that you might not have considered. It could help a news organization determine where its individual story ranks against competitors covering the same thing.

CEO Mike Lee said this is the first time that a tool has approached audience sentiment for news at the story level rather than the topic level...."We hope to not just be a quantity aggregator but to actually drive quality to the surface," Lee said.
[thanks for the tip to Kim Pittaway]

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Women encouraged to dump fashion magazines that make them feel bad about themselves

A campaign by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) is aimed at getting women to ditch their fashion magazines because they make their readers feel fat. The transit ad (there are also greeting cards, T-shirts, print ads, garment tags and a petition) is on a shelter at Queen Street West and Soho Street in Toronto. It has a slot where readers can dispose of their fashion magazines, with the line "Shed your weight problem here". The organization's website elaborates:
If you don't believe that beauty is synonymous with ultra-thinness, now is your chance to send a message to those who do. It's all part of a new campaign by NEDIC that takes aim at the fashion and marketing industries, the over-arching message being: Cast responsibly. Retouch minimally.
The campaign was developed for NEDIC by communications agency Zulu Alpha Kilo.
[thanks to Melissa Kluger for the tip]

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Tweaking reality -- Photoshop turns 20

It's a birthday that art directors and editors will wish to mark -- next Friday is the 20th anniversary of the introduction of Photoshop. The ubiquitous image manipulation software has been used for good in the magazine business (but also for some not-so-good purposes, including cover shot makeovers on fashion and celebrity titles. The example below shows actress Keira Knightly before and after.)
[photo: Splash News]
As Charles Arthur notes in an article for the Guardian, the proprietors of Photoshop (Adobe) decries use of the brand's name as a verb, but nevertheless it often is, usually as a term of abuse. And he points out that photo manipulation has always been with us.
But it was Photoshop that made ­altering images routine. It began ­circumspectly as a program written by Thomas Knoll, who, in the ­autumn of 1987, was doing in a PhD in computer vision but for fun wrote a program to display images with grey in them on a black-and-white monitor. Knoll called the program Display, writing it on his Mac Plus computer. Then his brother John, who worked at George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic company, which did the visual effects for the Star Wars films, noticed its potential. They collaborated, bought a Macintosh II – capable of displaying colours! – and set to work; the program's name mutated until they hit on Photoshop.
There's a dedicated Photoshop Disasters website that compiles visual disasters.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Maintaining a common brand message; how magazines can meet the challenge

Keeping common brand message across multiple platforms and products is a real challenge for magazine editors. The Canadian Society of Magazine Editors (CSME) has assembled a panel to discuss how it can best be done as the organization holds a Toronto mixer on February 24, 6 p.m. at Bar Italia, 582 College Street.
The panelists are Kathy Ullyott, Homemakers editor in chief, Edward Fraser, web editor for The Hockey News and Jackie Kovacs, deputy editor of Today's Parent. Admission is $20 or free to current CSME members.


Granville magazine's current issue is its last in print, for a while...

Granville magazine, the Vancouver lifestyle and city magazine published by Canada Wide Media Limited, has suspended print publication effective with its current Winter 2009 issue. It says it intends to continue the online site until print publication can begin again. David Jordan, the editor, wrote in a December 8 posting (which we've only just seen) 
Launching a new magazine is always an uphill battle, and an unsettled economy has added to the challenge. In anticipation of better times ahead, we plan to resume publication in fall 2010.
The magazine had distributed 25,000 copies to urban Vancouver households, four times a year. It described itself as "a Vancouver city magazine with a heavy dose of sustainability". 
An earlier post quoted shoestring startup costs in May 2007 of only $130,000 and the first issue had $78,000 worth of ads in 72 pages. Advertising in a brutal recession has shrunken to the point where the print magazine is no longer feasible.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quote, unquote: On the benefits of hitting bottom

The newsstand sales decline the last two years has been devastatingly steep, but it may have had a long overdue newsstand cleansing effect. Despite the record sales declines there are several reasons to be, at least partially, optimistic that newsstand sales may have bottomed out in the second half of 2009.
-- from a posting on Audience Development

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Periodical Fund quietly removes requirement to print funded mags in Canada

There could be a significant impact on Canadian magazine printers from the changing rules under the Canada Periodical Fund, not least of all because the government has quietly dropped the requirement that magazines receiving government funding must be printed in Canada. 
According to a posting in PrintCan, Doug Bennet, the publisher of industry trade magazines Masthead and Graphic Monthly, recently told the Toronto chapter meeting of the National Association of Major Mail Users, that
“Postal bills will be increasing by double-digits after April 1. This could be a disincentive for publishers to increase publication frequencies and page counts, especially above the 200 g threshold. It will also make publishers think twice about adding more enclosures in the polybag, particularly if advertisers aren’t willing to shoulder dramatically higher postage costs.”

At the same time, the new program may be an incentive for publishers to print more copies for newsstand distribution, since paid newsstand copies now count towards the grant calculation. “We could see a shift in strategy away from subscriptions to the newsstand, since publishers could elect to spend their grant funds on newsstand promotions,” says Bennet.

The removal of the printed in Canada rule means publishers could shop their printing in the U.S. or overseas and still receive federal funding—impossible before.

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Quote, unquote: Disappear, already, and give someone else a chance

If anything good was to come from the collapse of companies like Penton, Cygnus, RBI, Nielsen, Ziff et al it would be that those companies actually disappeared after they collapsed. But what's happening instead is that these print-legacy, bond-selling dinosaurs get back on their feet and just lumber on ... holding on to valuable properties that could actually grow if they were owned by people with more vision and less debt. It's a pity.
-- Blogger Paul Conley, commenting on the bankruptcy of Penton Media (formerly Prism, formerly Primedia)


Paid subs down 3.25% for first 6 months of 2009 according to ABC

The latest Fas-Fax data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) -- which tends to represent the larger circulation titles in the marketplace -- says that Hello! Canada enjoyed a circulation increase of more than 15% in the first six months of 2009, mostly made up of 66% in subscription growth. Maclean's magazine saw its circulation increase by 3%, based on a 5.5% increase in subscriptions; newsstand sales actually dropped by 15%. 

According to a report in the Globe and Mail, the analysis of data from 57 paid Canadian titles shows that total paid subscriptions fell by 3.25% and single copy sales by 4.3% in the first six months of 2009.

Among other notable figures:
  • Reader's Digest Canada remained the largest total paid circulation, albeit with a 7.5% decline from the comparable first six months of 2008. It has a total paid circulation of 763,000
  • Canadian Living had a drop of 1%  from last year, to 515,357
  • Chatelaine declined 11% to a circulation of 507,438; 10% of that was subscriptions and single copy sales dropped 18.4%
  •  Elle Canada increased subscriptions by 10.7%; Fashion magazine by 8.2%. However Flare lost almost 8% in subs, though increasing single copy sales by 43%
Mastheadonline reported the top 10 increases and decreases in paid subscription and in single copy sales. 

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    Monday, February 08, 2010

    Magazine world view: Fox & marriage; NYT dilemma; shifting Ebony, Jet; falling newsstand


    Ian Brown wins again, this time the Charles Taylor prize for non-fiction

    It has been a good couple of weeks for Ian Brown, who today was announced as the winner of the $25,000 Charles Taylor prize for non-fiction for his memoir The Boy in the Moon: A father's search for his disabled son. A few weeks ago Brown won the $40,000 British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction for the same book.
    The Taylor prize is named for the late author, essayist and former Globe and Mail correspondent, who died in 1997.
    The winning book is Brown's account of the struggle he and his wife Joanna Schneller have waged to deal with their son's rare genetic syndrome. Another finalist for the prize were Kenneth Whyte, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Maclean's for The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst, which was also a finalist for the BC award. Other Taylor Prize finalists were John English for Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau,1968 - 2000 and Daniel Poliquin for René Lévesque.
    Brown is a Globe and Mail feature writer and TVO host, but also a frequent National Magazine Award winner (he has won 7 gold medals, 5 silver and has been a finalist 27 times.)


    Feminist art practices focus of C magazine panel

    C magazine is hosting a panel discussion and public conversation about contemporary feminist art practices. The event is downstairs at the The Drake Hotel on Tuesday February 9; doors open 7 p.m., discussion begins at 7:30.The panelists are:
    • Elle Flanders, Toronto based filmmaker, photographer, and York University faculty member;
    • Jen Hutton, Toronto based artist and writer
    • Gabrielle Moser, writer, curator and PhD student in art history and visual culture at York University;
    • Helena Reckitt, Senior Curator of Programs at The Power Plant in Toronto;
    • Stephanie Rogerson, writer, artist, curator and PhD candidate in Art and Visual Culture at the University of Western Ontario.
    • Moderator: C Magazine editor, Amish Morrell


    Selling magazines more cheaply doesn't necessarily lead to selling more of them

    If ever publishers needed a wake-up about the relationship between price and reader value, it may have been provided recently by a report in the newsletter CircMatters. It reported that while many publishers in the U.S. have allowed (or driven) their subscription prices down in the hopes of maintaining readership, the result is often lower, not higher, sales. According to a report in MediaPost,
    [The] newsletter surveyed subscription data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for 344 magazines from the first half of 2002 and the first half of 2009. The analysis revealed that the average subscription price per issue fell about 7% over this period, from $1.70 to $1.58, with bigger magazines -- that is, magazines that sold more than 100,000 subscriptions in a six-month period -- lowering their sub price at roughly twice the rate of smaller magazines (10.5% versus 5.4%).

    Of the 344 titles surveyed, 222 (65%) had a lower subscription price in 2009 than 2002. However, lowering subscription prices generally did not lead to higher sales -- in fact, it was often correlated with lower sales.

    [CircMatters]' survey found that of the 222 titles that lowered subscription prices, 164 (75%) also saw individual subscription sales fall, with more than half suffering losses of 20% or more in subscription sales between the first half of 2002 and the first half of 2009.
    CircMatters publisher Jack Hanraham said he was especially concerned about so-called sponsored subscriptions. "The recipient pays nothing for a subscription because the publisher is paid by the sponsor," and about which "we know little... in terms of reader quality and engagement."

    In a recent speech the British Columbia Association of Magazine Publishers (BCAMP), I spoke to the fact that it may not be readers, but publishers, who are responsible for devaluing magazines:
    For generations, we have worked to convince readers that a magazine is worth no more than a high-end greeting card, and sometimes considerably less....Most of us don’t even make the effort to make the case for rational pricing; in fact, we apologize for rate increases, even though our readers well know that in a commercial world, everything goes up, including their incomes. Right now, a typical magazine sells for substantially less than an hour’s labour at minimum wage. It’s little wonder if people don’t value what we do in the way that they should; it has been our doing.

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    Sunday, February 07, 2010

    Quote, unquote: On Canadian culture

    To have a healthy culture you have to have stable health care financing and stable arts financing and stable sports financing, and if you don’t have that, your culture becomes a parking lot.
    -- Writer Douglas Coupland, responding to a question in the New York Times magazine. (Aside: Coupland got a leg up early in his career by writing for Vancouver magazine.)


    Friday, February 05, 2010

    If ads can't be relied upon to pay for quality journalism, what is the alternative?

    There is a view among the big heads in the digital world that publishing won't be saved by advertising. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban represents the prevailing view that aggregators like Google are vampires that suck dry the creative content of magazines and newspapers and other online sites. And says that advertising cannot be relied upon to pay for journalistic content on the web and on mobile devices of various kinds.
    If that is so, what is the alternative? My view has been that it's an either-or proposition. Either advertising will continue to provide the majority of revenue for traditional and online-delivered content; or it won't. And, if it won't, then isn't the only alternative to gradually, or not so gradually, educate end users to pay a larger proportion of the costs of providing robust content? To treat it like they are stakeholders and to seize back control of their favourite publications/sites from the advertisers?
    Funny thing is, though, that the same big heads who dismiss online advertising also tend to dismiss reader-supported research and journalism. Which leaves publishers with a big head-ache. If they're going to invest in anything, should it be building a business model based on subscriptions or on advertising?

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