Monday, June 13, 2005

Core values

How's the Canadian magazine business doing? On the surface, it looks good, with revenue and profits up in the most recent Statistics Canada data (2003-04). But we've been drilling down a bit to make some comparisons over time and it's a lot more sobering than initial impressions.

Using Statscan's own data, albeit with more titles captured in the recent research than early in the '90s, it is possible to make some per-title calculations and then adjust them for inflation. Here's what it shows:

In 1991-92, Statscan found that 1,261 consumer and trade titles*, large and small, had revenue of $927 million, or about $736,000 per title.

In 2003-04, 1,824 titles had revenue of $1.44 million or about $787,000 per title.

But we plugged those numbers into the Bank of Canada's inflation calculator, using the consumer price index (CPI) and found that over that period (92 - 2004) inflation was an average of about 1.76% a year.

In constant 1992 dollars, the average title had revenues of about $596,000 in 2003-04, a decline of about $140,000 per title.

Of course this is an average and there were undoubtedly some winners as well as some losers, but when you combine this with information in the previous post, which indicates that the proportion of unprofitable titles is actually increasing, it makes for lamentable reading and probably should spark some reflection by the industry and the government.

*these data do not include any scholarly or religious magazines; they total general consumer, special interest consumer, trade and farm publications.


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