Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good news; mag publishing giant Meredith losing (less) money in first quarter

Meredith Corporation, one of the most diverse and powerful magazine publishers in the U.S.  had a loss of 2% in earnings and 9% in revenue in the first fiscal quarter. That a loss is presented as good news is explained because it is much better than the performance of the industry as a whole and may be presaging recovery from the throes of the recession.

According to a story in Folio:, Meredith's national media group (magazines)  saw revenues decline from $294 million in Q1 last year to $272 million this year and operating expenses dropping 10% to $233 million (largely driven by a 9% drop in paper prices). In particular, according to a company release, Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle grew advertising revenues 3% and 13% respectively in the quarter.

According to Meredith president and CEO Stephen M. Lacy, national media advertising revenues are “trending in the right direction, and we continue to outperform our major peers and gain share.” Meredith said its share of overall magazine industry ad revenues increased to 12.2 percent during the fiscal first quarter, compared to 8.7 percent this time last year.

Eleven of Meredith's 14 PIB-tracked titles increased share of advertising revenues during the third quarter, the company said.
Meredith's magazine portfolio includes Better Homes & Gardens, More (it partners with Transcontinental Inc. in the Canadian edition), Ladies Home Journal, Family Circle, Fitness, Parents, Ready Made, Traditional Home, Baby, and a whole range of special interest publications such as Heart-healthy Living, Beautiful Kitchens, Kitchen and Bath Ideas and Country Gardens.


20 tweetable truths about magazines -- the video

As a way of responding to too-ready "print is dead" proclamations, The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) produced a list of The Twenty Tweetable Truths about Magazines, first as a printed list and now as a snappy video presentation.

Labels: ,

Ignatieff says Liberal government would double Canada Council funding

It must be election season, as the Liberal party leader, Michael Ignatieff, says that if elected his government would double the current $180 million parliamentary funding of the Canada Council for the Arts. According to a story in the Montreal Gazette, Ignatieff made the commitment during a series of visits to cultural groups in Montreal.
"We will not only restore these programs, we will enhance them," Ignatieff said.

Asked how a Liberal government would pay for these items when Ottawa faces a $56-billion deficit, Ignatieff said: "I am ready to make difficult choices.

"I am firmly convinced that investing in culture is the best investment that we can make."


Magazine world view: Cosmo networks; Forbes layoffs;big pubs cooperate;UK postal strike goes


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Will e-readers save publishing? Probably not

With several e-readers either launched or about to be, MediaWeek has asked the apt question about whether these gadgets will save the publishing industry.
Predicting an iPhone-like breakout is perilous (and probably as likely as predicting the iPhone’s huge success five years ago). Thus, few inside the publishing world realistically see e-readers as a lifeline; most view it as a promising alternative distribution channel—and one for which they might actually get paid. Most also recognize that e-readers present numerous challenges. “There is an optimism among publishers,” says Roger Fidler, program director for digital publishing at Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. “But nobody is seriously saying this is going to save the industry.”
Interestingly, the average Kindle user now is around 40, and Fidler believes one of the spurs to adoption of these devices, particularly by a younger demographic, will be colleges and business; for instance, if colleges require students to use e-readers or businesses encourage e-reader use to save paper burden.


Prelude to a sale: National Post to join the family of CanWest dailies

If it can get permission from the courts and its senior lenders, the National Post is being moved out this Friday of its holding company, CanWest Media, to join other CanWest dailies and weeklies in CanWest Limited Partnership. This is not mere paperwork, but a means of tuning up the money-losing national daily and putting it in a place where it could be sold along with the other papers in the chain.

According to a story in the Globe and Mail, CanWest Limited Partnership will assume all of the National Post's obligations and liabilities under its pension plan; National Post employees will be offered employment with the new company.
Industry analysts say CanWest could fetch more than $1-billion for its newspaper assets as signs of life in the finances of the newspaper industry drive up interest in acquisitions.

One analyst, who asked to remain anonymous, has said that the National Post is considered a money-loser and that CanWest would want to lump it in with other more profitable papers in order to get it sold.

Chris Diceman, an analyst at Dominion Bond Ratings Service, believes if CanWest does go ahead with the rumoured plans, the company could pull in between $600-million and $900-million for the lumped together assets in a first round of bids.

“If there was a bidding war for these assets either in, or part of, creditor protection, that multiple may go up even higher than that,” he said recently.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone: Gourmet design

It's kind of sweet that the Society of Professional Designers have posted an item on their blog where they ask the designers of Gourmet magazine to select their favourite covers and spreads from the magazine, which has published its last issue.
Although the covers of Gourmet often garnered the most attention, the insides of the magazine were brilliant and sparkling as well, and received much acclaim and many awards.
The post shows four covers and feature openers selected by creative director Richard Ferretti and art director Erika Oliveira.
Designer Richard Newman's Facebook page also celebrates the late magazine:
When Conde Nast closed down Gourmet magazine on October 4, they also ended a striking visual history that stretches back to 1941, when the magazine was founded. Over the years Gourmet featured iconic illustration (well into the 50s) and photography that defined elegance and tastiness in food magazine covers. Feast your eyes on this small collection of Gourmet covers from 1941-2009. For a complete set of covers from 1959-2007:

Labels: ,

New quarterly Garden Making magazine to launch in March 2010

March 2010 will see the launch of a new, quarterly Canadian gardening magazine called Garden Making, edited by Beckie Fox, former staffer and then editor (1999 - 2001) of Canadian Gardening magazine. Fox, who gardens enthusiastically herself in Niagara-on-the-Lake, teaches gardening at George Brown College and the Toronto Botanical Gardens.
Here's what she says about the new publication:
We will inspire and inform Canada’s gardeners. If you’re a plant enthusiast who revels in the process of making a garden, you’ll appreciate Garden Making. If you embrace planning, designing, planting, maintaining and renovating your landscape, then you’ll enjoy Garden Making.

When you’re not out in your garden, then Garden Making will show you new and proven methods, techniques, products, plants and ideas to make your garden even more successful and satisfying.
The art director for the magazine is Gary Hall, a well-known name in publication design. Hall played an important role in the redesign of Maclean's in 2001 and was deputy art director for four years. He has taught editorial design for the past four years at the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCAD).
The magazine is published by Inspiring Media Inc., a private company based in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Beckie Fox is married to Michael Fox, senior vice-president circulation and development for Rogers Publishing.)
Garden Making's subscription for one year is $19.95, but charter subscribers, ordering before December 31, will get six copies for that price. 
Beckie Fox authored The Potted Garden: Creating a Great Container Garden in 2002.


Worn magazine launch party is "slow dance of the
living dead"

The indy fashion title Worn is continuing its "slow dance" promotion strategy by holding a Hallowe'en themed issue launch event in Toronto called "Slow Dance of the Living Dead".
This event offers a night of slow dance ballads in sanguine style, complete with dance cards (book a dance with your dearest undead) and designated dancers to re-animate the coyest of corpses. SLOW DANCE also offers gift bags for the first 30 ghoulish guests, cupcakes, popcorn, and braaaaaiins. (Just kidding – we couldn’t get those. It’s strictly BYOBrains.)
It's 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at The Dovercourt House (805 Dovercourt Rd). Admission is $13 including a copy of Worn issue 9 and a dance card - or $10 in advance from the magazine or Model Citizen at 279 Augusta in Kensington Market or Take Me Back at 1692 Queen W in Parkdale.


U.S. biggest papers' circulation fall continues

The average weekday circulation of the top 83 largest U.S. newspapers (over 100,000 circulation)saw an 11.7% drop in the six months ending September 30, according to an analysis of Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures compiled by MediaPost. The total average weekday circulation declined from 22,231,728 to 19,637,991.
The analysis looked back over several years and said the rate of decline seems to be accelerating:
Six months ending September
2009 (11.7%)
2008 (3.2%)
2007 (4.5%)
2006 (3.1%)
While publishers have expressed hope that there is a natural bottom to the downward curve -- a core readership who won't forgo subscriptions -- the new ABC data suggests newspapers haven't reached it yet.


Rogers media division sees 9-month
profit drop of 34%

Rogers Communications media holdings, which include the company's magazines (both consumer and trade) but also broadcasting and the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club, saw a fall in operating revenue of $22 million (about 6%) in the three months ending September 30. Operating revenue for the division for the quarter was $364 million, compared with $386 million in the same period a year ago. Adjusted operating profit for the period was $36 million, down from $43 million in the same period a year ago, a decline of 16%.
For the first three quarters, ending September 30, revenues declined $88 million or about 8% and adjusted operating profit was $63 million, down 34% from the same period a year earlier.


Canadian Online Publishing Awards winners announced

The Tyee,a Vancouver-based news site, won three prizes for best website design, best news and best community feature in the first annual Canadian Online Publishing Awards, announced last night in Toronto.
The awards, created by Mastheadonline, recognize excellence in online editorial and innovation by Canadian magazine and website publishers. [disclosure: I was a judge in one of the categories]
Entries were made in "red" and "blue" categories; red for consumer, custom, religious, and public association websites and blue for business-to-business, professional association, farm, and scholarly websites.Winning websites receive a certificate, promotion to 12,000 advertising professionals and media buyers through the Media In Canada e-mail news bulletin, plus additional media and promotion, including coverage on MastheadOnline. Among the other winners were:
Best overall magazine website – Red —St. Joseph Media

Best overall magazine website – Blue
Salon52 —Salon Communications Inc.

Best overall online-only website – Red
DailyXY —XY Media Ventures

Best overall online-only website – Blue —IT World Canada
Best website design – Red
The Tyee —Countercurrent Media Ltd.

Best website design – Blue —Rogers Publishing

Best Blog – Red        
Home [Eco]nomics Blog on Granville Island —Canada Wide Media Ltd.
Best Blog – Blue    
University Affairs Margin Notes —Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Best Video – Red —St. Joseph Media
Best Video – Blue —Business Information Group

Best E-newsletter – Red
20-Minute Supper Club —St. Joseph Media

Best E-newsletter – Blue        
Click! Weekly —Lloyd Media

Best Cross Platform - Red —Venture Publishing Inc.

Best Cross Platform - Blue       
Canadian Literature: CanLit Poets —University of British Columbia

Best News – Red        
The Tyee —Countercurrent Media Ltd.

Best News – Blue        
IT World Canada —IT World Canada

Best Community Feature – Red & Blue       
The Tyee – Green Your Campbell Cash —Countercurrent Media Ltd.

Best Article or Series – Red        
Granville Online – Ecofashion Series —Canada Wide Media Ltd.
Further information on the awards, nominees and other details from Canadian Online Publishing Awards website

Labels: ,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Questions being asked about low-cost, "partnership" subs

A friend asks: "Is this a last gasp before everyone (as Playboy, most recently, is doing) returns to building and maintaining smaller circulations - of truly committed readers - that actually contribute to the bottom line?"
He was referring to the growing trend of "partnership deductible" subscriptions whereby a sub is bundled with the purchase of other products or services. For instance, Maxim magazine being bundled with eHarmony dating services or gaming sites.
Proponents acknowledge that the numbers are relatively small, and renewal rates low, but defend the method as a low-cost means of attracting some subscribers with potential to become longer-term. For instance, publisher Eric Zinczenko of Field & Stream says the title derives 25% of its circ mainly from partnerships with outdoor companies and that such subs cost 75 cents, compared with $3.50 for a direct-mail subscription.
According to a story in MediaWeek, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has tightened up the rules and banned so-called "non-deductible" subs that forced the consumer to buy the magazine if they bought a partner product or service.
But two recent ABC decisions paved the way for this category to grow. One expanded the allowed partners to charitable groups. Another let publishers sell up to three titles with a product or service, as long as each additional magazine comes with an additional purchase.
Proponents of this practice argue that consumers can opt out; but critics wonder about the "wantedness" of the titles and the inflation of circ numbers. The opt-out process is often deliberately cumbersome.
“It’s a challenge for the consumer to not get the magazine and get their money back,” said Jack Hanrahan, founder of Circ Matters, a circulation newsletter.

Labels: ,

British MPS want to put a bag over the head
of "lad mags"

The so-called "nanny state" is thriving, I see. According to a story in Press Gazette, a cross-party group of British MPs have demanded that magazines with "sexually graphic" front covers be concealed from view and have called for a cinema-style rating system for magazines. They apparently sweep into the category various kinds of "lad mags" and want such magazines not only put on the top shelf but concealed in a bag of some sort.
The MPs, including Tory former Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and the Weald) and ex-Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell (Fife NE), said the review should consider whether pornographic magazines should be concealed in bags instead of displayed on the top shelf of newsagents (as they are in Canada).
In a Commons motion tabled by Labour's Lindsay Roy (Glenrothes), the MPs state that "politicians, retailers, publishers and distributors have a collective responsibility to protect children and young people from displays of sexually graphic material that they are not emotionally equipped to deal with".
In 2006 Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas presented a bill in Parliament arguing for legally-binding measures to keep sexually explicit magazines out of sight of children, but it died on the order paper. At the time, the Periodical Publishers Association, the British magazine trade group, said the guidelines in place were quite stringent enough.
"Magazine publishers and retailers believe the resultant code is strengthened, and its voluntary nature is far more effective and flexible than any statutory regulation, given that standards of taste and decency are constantly changing," the PPA said in its letter to MPs.

"Ultimately it is the retailers' responsibility to sell products, and to use their discretion and judgment as they see fit to display and sell those products, including magazines."

Labels: , ,

Quote, unquote: the future opportunities of journalism

"The value of studying journalism is in learning the writing, the research and understanding the ethical issues. Understanding what a story is . . . isn’t going to change. The ability to research and tell a story — this is what these young people should be learning here, because ultimately they are going to have to learn a new technology every few years. New journalists have to be specialists in all media types and this is not a huge problem for students who often learn these skills on their own. For example, it is amazing how many young people already have a blog when they start journalism school. For young people with an entrepreneurial spirit, journalism will continue to present lots of opportunities."
-- Michael Rogers, former futurist-in-residence at The New York Times, and one-time writer for Rolling Stone magazine, speaking to a symposium hosted in Halifax by the University of King’s College journalism school [reported in the Chronicle Herald].


Fortune magazine cuts back to 18 issues a year

Fortune magazine is being cut back to 18 issues a year from 25, says Time Inc. According to a story on, while each issue will be somewhat larger, the new publication schedule is part of another round of cuts aimed at meeting parent Time Warner Inc.'s targets for savings. In November 2008, Time Inc. eliminated 600 jobs (about 6 per cent of the work force).
At Fortune, advertising sales were down 33% over the first nine months of the year during a period when magazine advertising over all fell 20%.


Seneca College launching entrepreneurial illustration program

Seneca College in Toronto is launching an  illustration program with a twist beginning in January. The twist is entrepreneurial -- students will not only learn illustration, they'll also register their own small businesses, have a working website and learn accounting, marketing and revenue generating skills to succeed as entrepreneurial artists, according to a release from the college.
“Illustration is a competitive industry and in order to succeed, artists need to have the entrepreneurial skills to market themselves and their art,” said JoAnn Purcell, Co-ordinator, Independent Illustration.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Poems and projects and themes, oh my

Stuart Ross, in his back-page column for the current issue of  subTerrain magazine (the piece is not yet online) considers why so much of work of Canada's "emerging" poets and other writers seem to be themed "projects". (He speaks as someone who was this year a Canada Council juror.)
"Shouldn't writers who are learning the trade be trying out everything they can, creating a tangle of eclectic experiments, writing about any stupid thing that pops into their churning skull?" he asks.
Of course, being a columnist, he has some answers.
One is that writers are trying to emulate "significant" works like Christian Bok's book length poem Eunoia.
"Now there's a book that you can describe to someone and make it sound interesting: 'Oh, yeah, so each section only uses one vowel! It's really cool. Yoko Ono!' But how do you make Shroud of the Gnome [by James Tate] sound good? 'There's all these poems and they're great and one of them's called Shut Up and Eat Your Toad!' Just doesn't grab in the same way."
Another is that grant applications, with their requirement for a written "project description" tends to lead applicants towards homogeneity.
Another is the growth of Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs.
"...a Project manuscript sounds important. It's more tangible; you can talk about it with your thesis advisor and it's like you actually have a topic for your discussion. I don't know that it's the way to write exciting poetry, though."
And finally, the sales force for publishers, who wants an 8-second pitch for a book.
"It's way better if we can say, 'A marvellous collection of poems about gardening and suicide' instead of 'Oh, yeah, this is the new poetry book by L. Beau Noodles.'"


When it comes to freelance writing, there's "good free" and "bad free"

[This post has been updated] Montreal freelancer Craig Silverman has made us aware of a presentation this weekend at an event for Montreal freelancers by Montreal media executive and longtime freelancer Mitch Joel. He replicated his speech in a blog posting called "The part of social media that freaks out freelance writers".
He maintains that blogging frees freelancers, letting them supplement their writing and writing without anyone's permision, unedited. Further that bogs can help sell stories and, while making a freelancer a better writer (practice making perfect), establish a reputation.
The challenge is that you have to mentally get over the hump that you're writing for free, because you're not. You're writing to free yourself.
Silverman, who's prolific and successful and who blogs and tweets, added his own comments about Joel's views in a post on the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserv (available by subscription only). He says there is "good free" and "bad free" for writers: Good free includes writing that builds your brand, helps a charitable cause, helps promote your other work (books for instance) and builds your credibility. Bad free is providing articles for for-profit publishers because they're too cheap to pay and producing posts or op-eds that don't offer the opportunity to promote yourself.
Too many writers produce free work that does little or nothing to hep build their brand and business. Be stingy about free, but know that it can be of use.
[Update: This provoked another interesting response on TFEW from veteran freelancer Kim Pittaway:
I'd argue that your paradigm applies not just to the stuff you do for free: it also applies to what you're paid to do. There's good paid and bad paid. Good paid gives you the chance to explore topics you're engaged by and work with editors who push you to do your best work. Bad paid sucks the life out of you as you churn out one more piece on a subject you couldn't even summon up the energy to not care about--and then tortures you even more by putting you through an edit with someone who doesn't know what they want and will ultimately end up reworking it in their own image anyway. Good paid puts your work in front of those in a position to assign more good paid work. Bad paid--well bad paid inevitably gets seen by someone you'd rather didn't see it, or ends up popping up at the top the search results when you Google your name. Good paid contributes to clarifying your "brand" (yup, there's no avoiding it) while bad paid makes people wonder "Wait, that's not the same Joan Smith who wrote that piece on X? Weird that she'd write something like this." (And I mean weird in a bad way--it's not always bad to surprise your readers, but it is bad to puzzle them.)

The challenge is that when all paid work is scarce, it can be tough to turn down bad paid work. My advice: that's what pen names were made for. If you gotta do it, make sure you sign it with the name of that jerk who bullied you in grade three.]

Labels: ,

Friday, October 23, 2009

Maclean's magazine selling subs for 71 cents a copy

Maclean's magazine is offering a 3-month subscription (14 issues) for $9.95, which may be its lowest price ever per copy; 71 cents. The Maclean's offer is presented as 2 free issues + 12 more. The offer is made through an online mailing list of Canadian Business. In the same offer, Rogers Consumer Publishing is offering Chatelaine at 13 issues for $12.95 -- a fraction of a penny less than $1.
Total cost across Canada (the offer is only available to Canadian addresses) including GST: $10.45; MB: $11.14; NB, NF, NS: $11.24; QC: $11.2.

Labels: ,

The all-encompassing maw of Amazon

NEW YORK -- Inc. shares surged as much as 23% Friday and hit an all-time high after the e-commerce's giant strong third-quarter results suggested the company is taking market share, even in a down economy, thanks to its business formula.
"Continued success in adding new customers," Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker said, "indicates that's value proposition (lowest prices + best selection + great customer service) is succeeding in attracting consumers as they transition from offline to online in search of value."

Amazon shares, already up 82% this year, recently added 22% to $113.99.
-- an online story from the Wall Street Journal.
(Why doesn't this make me feel better about things?)

The state of our food keeps freelancer Margaret Webb very busy

The ferociously productive freelance writer, author and teacher Margaret Webb is making quite a lot of waves these days about the Canadian food industry: Her 9-part recent series for the Toronto Star and her book Apples to Oysters have both caused a lot of talk about the future of food and farming.The book has been shortlisted for the Cuisine Canada Book Award in the Canadian culture category. They are being given on November 6 at noon at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. There are two other places where you can catch her:
  • The Art of Food Writing is a panel with Margaret Webb, Corby Kummer and Michael Symons, moderated by Ian Brown, at 2 p.m. on November 14 at Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto. Tickets $25, at 519-271-1414 or Cookbook Store in Toronto.
  • And she is the keynote speaker at the 2010 Guelph Organic Conference January 28-31, 2010.

If you've got a lemon, make lemonade: Memories of Ramparts magazine

Ramparts magazine meant a lot to me when it was around and I am very pleased to see that it is coming back into public consciousness by the publication of a new book called A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America, by Peter Richardson. The New York Times has done a review of the book in the October 11 Sunday book review. I am also really pleased that the Society of Professional Designers (SPD) has published an interview with Dugald Stermer, who was the art director of Ramparts during its heyday as a muckraking teararound. I am even more pleased to know that a complete gallery of the amazing Ramparts covers is available on the Robert Newman Design Facebook page.

You can read the entire interview yourself but Stermer says the December 1967 cover was his favourite. He and the editors of the magazine burned their own draft cards (he's the hand on the left).  

"This was my favorite cover, probably because it caused the four of use to be called before the Grand Jury in New York. They finally decided it wouldn't be good public relations to indict magazine editors, so after our testimony they let us go. However, the cover itself was pretty self-evident."

Stermer says he had near total freedom to design covers and the inside art. Commenting on a April 1966 Paul Davis illustration of Madame Nhu, he said:
"I think the main thing about the art was its irreverance. Ramparts combined big stories on serious topics with a kind of whimsy or irony that audiences found compelling. A famous example is the Madame Nhu cover. The story was about how the CIA used a Michigan State University program as a cover to train the South Vietnamese police in interrogation techniques, among other things. But the cover showed Madame Nhu, the Vietnamese leader's sister-in-law, as a Michigan State cheerleader. Instead of emphasizing the dark side of the story, or suggesting that the reader would discover a sermon inside, the cover invited curiosity."

He also said that they used lots of illustrations because much of the content didn't lend itself to photography. Most of the covers were done for $300, but he did pay legendary illustrator Norman Rockwell $500 to do a cover of Bertrand Russell.
"I called Mr. Rockwell (I couldn't call him anything else) and humbly asked if he had ever heard of Ramparts magazine. He said he had, perhaps to be polite. I then asked if he would be so kind as to do a cover for us, a portrait of Bertrand Russell. He said, "One old guy portraying another, right?" I bumbled on, and he said, "I'll let you know tomorrow." To my surprise, he called me the next day, and said, "I talked to my son, and he said, 'Dad, if you don't do this, you are truly old.' So okay. How do you want me to paint it. I've been doing some looser work lately." I said, 'Any way you want, just one thing...." He said, "I know, just sign my name large." I said, "Uh, yes."
If you want to read about the rise, and fall, of Ramparts in a hilarious memoir, I recommend you search out a copy of If You've Got a Lemon, Make Lemonade by Warren Hinckle III. Hinckle was the editor who worked most closely with Stermer and who set the irreverent tone for the magazine.

The whole enterprise was preposterous and hugely influential for a generation of magaziners.

Labels: , ,

Magazine world view: Royal no-Mail;


U.S. booksellers' association asks if big chains' price war is "predatory"

Readers and writers should be very interested in a request from the American Booksellers Association to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking them if a price war among Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Inc. and Target Corp. constitues "illegal predatory pricing". last week announced that it would sell the 10 most anticipated new books of the season for $10 online. Amazon matched them, then so did Target and Wal-Mart responded by lowering its price to $8.98, one penny less than Target.
A short-sighted view might be that it's great that bestselling hardcovers are going for US$8.98, but a bit more reflection will see that this is, as the ABA says, "damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers". In a story in the Wall Street Journal, it points out that, while the price war might generate more reading, it may put independent bookstores under.
The letter said while it may appear that the prices will generate "more reading and a greater sharing of ideas in the culture," many of the independent stores that belong to the ABA won't be able to compete.

"The net result will be the closing of many independent bookstores and a concentration of power in the book industry in a very few hands," the letter said.
But let's not get our hopes up. As Gary Reback, an antitrust attorney in Palo Alto, Calif., said in the WSJ article:
"Successful predatory-pricing cases are as rare as Bigfoot sightings."

Condé Nast Digital reorganized

Condé Nast Digital, in the wake of a consultant's review and major layoffs and closures, has restructured its sales force into five brand categories: fashion and beauty; food, well-being and travel; bridal; technology; and culture and thought leader. According to a post in Online Media Daily, Josh Stinchcomb has been named publisher,Condé Nast Digital and is responsible for all advertising revenue related to online properties. Alice McKown, executive director of marketing and will oversee "custom ideation, magazine integration marketing, promotion, and sales support across all Web sites".
"This offers increased flexibility for our advertisers," said Drew Schutte, SVP and chief revenue officer for Condé Nast Digital, as well as "seamless coordination with our print sellers, as we meet the increased demand for cross-channel selling."

Labels: , ,

Stack American launched to provide hard-to-find indie magazines

About 18 months ago, we wrote here about a UK-based subscription system called Stack, which allowed participants to receive packages 6, 8 or 12 interesting, but often hard to find, independently published magazines every two months. We also noted that Worn, the Toronto-based fashion title, was included in the magazines that Stack offered.
Apparently, that program was so popular with U.S. and Canadian readers that it was decided to launch a similar program on this side of the Atlantic called Stack America. Subscribers to the service receive copies of six magazines spread out over the year. The selection of magazines in the U.S. is somewhat different from the UK offering with magazines shipping out of its New England base.

Canadian subscriptions are premium priced at $119.99; USA subs are $71.99. Subscribers are asked to specify independent magazines they already subscribe to so that they don't receive duplicates. Among the titles being offered by Stack America are The Wire, IdN, Bad Idea and Kasino.
Anyone in the world can receive Stack America magazines, though it’s primarily designed for people with a USA mailing address (including Puerto Rico). You can of course subscribe to both Stack America and the UK-based Stack if you want to – simply go to the subscription page and choose the delivery options that are right for you.
Stack America is a bimonthly service. Each magazine it delivers arrives accompanied by a letter from our American CEO, Andrew Losowsky (editor of the books We Love Magazines and We Make Magazines), detailing some of the highlights to look out for in the latest selection. Subscribers will also receive occasional extra surprises in their envelopes, carefully chosen for the Stack America audience.
Stacked is also interested in being tipped about titles worth including in the program.

Labels: ,

Shameless magazine team launches journalism training program for teen girls

Shameless magazine, the feisty independent title,has long been known for championing the voices of teenage girls who are its principle audience. In its beginning years, it had a teen editorial collective which advised it and, now, it is launching a journalism training program for teen girls called Shameless Wire.
The magazine will recruit a diverse group of at least 10 high school-aged teens from across the Toronto area and introduce them to pitching, researching and writing articles. With the aid of donations, the magazine plans to provide participants the chance to write, report, edit, and meet other women journalists in eight workshops over four months, supplying transit tokens and lunch for each workshop, to make the program accessible to girls who might not otherwise be able to join.
The workshop idea grew out of a gender divide Allison Martel, one of the youth coordinators of Shameless, noted when working at a student paper, according to a fundraising letter signed by Martel and fellow coordinator Cate Simpson, editor Megan Griffith-Greene and publisher Stacey May Fowles:
She found that right out of high school, women fall behind their male colleagues in the newsroom. Men arrive at student papers full of confidence, ready to pitch and take assignments, while women hang back, feeling that they need more training, experience, and time before they can start publishing.

While there is no shortage of young female writers in the industry, there are systemic barriers to them entering positions of power in editorial, which means that they often cannot decide what stories are covered. This problem, it seems, is not disappearing over time. Routes into journalism are difficult - most of us can't get published or network until we've done at least one unpaid internship, and for many talented young women, that's just an impossibility. Once it’s time to hire junior reporters and editors, the applicant pool has narrowed far too much. If we want to change the face of journalism, we need to start with youth.
The publishing team at Shameless are hoping to finance the program with donations which may be made through PayPal, or by sending a cheque with "Wire" in the memo line to Shameless Magazine, P.O. Box 68548, 860A Bloor St.W., Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1X1.Further information is available by e-mail at

Thursday, October 22, 2009

GQ iPhone app digital replica will count towards paid circulation

I have to say that I'm not that fond of reading a magazine on a tiny iPhone-type screen; but clearly I am in the minority (and a good thing for magazine publishers). According to a story in Media in Canada, Condé Nast has announced the launch of its i-Phone app that will -- starting in mid-November --  provide a replica of GQ magazine. It is inevitably a sign that, soon, you'll be able to get the same for many magazines in the Conde Nast stable. 

Folio: magazine :  says that the development of  Condé Nast's own e-reader is a departure from the excerpting ways magazine publishers have used technology. Now the company is making full issues available and not coincidentally, retaining some degree of control that they may keep away from other people's platforms (Amazon's Kindle, for instance). 
"One of the important things is the app itself is actually a reader," Sarah Chubb, president of Condé Nast Digital, told FOLIO: sister title Audience Development. "There are other reader apps for the iPhone, the Amazon Kindle being the successful one. We make the distinction that it's a reader because we've designed and built it in-house. We'll see what works and maybe use it with our other magazines as well."
Of further interest is that theAudit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) has approved the app (which sells for $2.99 a year) as a digital replica, and sales will count toward the magazine's paid circulation.
Ads will appear as they do in the print version, but will also offer more interactivity as video, e-commerce and linking capability are all enabled as part of the new app."This medium enables new levels of advertiser integration," Peter King Hunsinger, VP and publisher of GQ, said in a release. "Not only will all print ads be replicated in the app, but we've sold special integrated sponsorship packages to Grey Goose and Gillette."
The issues of GQ will be able to be viewed in horizontal and vertical mode; vertical will allow users to navigate and "pinch and swipe" stories and images; horizontal will allow readers to swipe through page by page -- including ads -- for the entire issue.

Labels: , , ,

Mag shorts: 50 years of UA; new kitchen & bath annual; Canada Post sub drive; anti-spam; zoo mag

University Affairs/Affaires universitaires celebrates 50 years of publication with its November issue. The publication started out as a plain-vanilla newsletter and has grown to serve about 20,000 faculty, staff and graduate students in more than 100 universities across Canada.
Historian Alan MacEachern writes a chronicle of the five decades and points out that one of the watershed moments covered by the magazine was the huge expansion of universities starting in the late 1950s and the consequent rise of faculty associations, which shook up university governance. Prior to that, most universities were run by boards of governors that acted like a cozy club of businessmen and clergymen. New faculty were more intent on research and more interested in control of curriculum and their working lives.
 *  *  *
TVA Publications, the publishers of Les  idées de ma maison has launched an English language version of its Cuisines de rêve called Kitchens & Bathrooms. The newsstand-only title will offer ideas for kitchen and bathroom makeovers and a rundown on new products.
 *  *  *
Canada Post has simplified its Subscription Driver Program, which allows magazines who deliver through the mail to advertise their titles on the Canada Post website, free of charge. Learn more about the program or contact your Canada Post rep to participate. 
*  *  *
Magazines Canada has sent a letter to the committee reviewing the new anti-spam bill, supporting amendments that would continue to allow legitimate direct mail activity by Canadian publishers.
*  *  *
Harper Street Publishing of Carcross, Yukon has announced a publishing agreement with the Hannover Zoo in Germany whereby 100,000 copies of a companion magazine will be distributed at the zoo's 'Yukon Visitor Centre',  to compliment their new exhibit 'Yukon Bay'.  The exhibit will feature northern animals and replicas of Dawson City's Palace Grand Theatre, Yukon Saw Shop, the steam engine "Duchess" in Carcross, and a stern-wheeler, the Yukon Queen.


History Society launches special interest publication for history teachers

[This post has been updated] The publishers of The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine, have launched a special interest publication aimed at history teachers called Teaching Canada's History. There is an English and a French version  (Histoire Canada) with identical content. 

The print magazines have a companion interractive website, a digital version of the magazine with click-through images and boldfaced text scattered throughout the articles, connecting teachers to additional information,  lesson plans and resources. Canada's National History Society hopes that the venture will become an annual. 

The articles, some of which are adapted from The Beaver include a piece about 10 great field trips, how to challenge students in the classroom, how residential survivors share their stories and how to bring history to life for students. 

Mark Reid, the editor of The Beaver and one of two editors on this project says in his editor's note:
"Teaching Canada's history isn't easy in this fast-paced, Twitter-filled, Facebooking age we live in. Students today are more connected and web-wired than any preceding generation. To reach them, we need to speak their language. We need to opoen our minds, and our teaching, to new technologies and new teaching methods. As teacher Joe Stafford says in his article "Rewarding Risk, good things happen to teachers who take chances in the classroom."
[Update: according to a story in the Winnipeg Free Press, the magazine will be selling for $9.95 on newsstands and will be distributed to teachers at conferences.]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spacing goes Atlantic

Spacing magazine is accelerating towards having a coast-to-coast presence. Later this month (October 28) a new daily Atlantic blog will join the current Spacing Toronto and Spacing Montreal blogs. It will be written, according to a story in Masthead, for now, for free by a volunteer staff, including two former summer interns at the magazine, but there are plans in future to pay bloggers, says Matt Blackett, the publisher and creative director.
No sooner will the Spacing Atlantic blog hit the web than additional blogs will be launching in Ottawa in November and in Vancouver early in 2010.
Blackett reports that Spacing Toronto and Spacing Montreal between them bring in about 10,000 visitors a day; the new blogs should double that.
As in Toronto, merchandise will feature in the Atlantic version. A lucrative sideline of Spacing is to sell buttons of Toronto Transit subway stops. There is no subway in Atlantic Canada, so the buttons that will be on sale at the new blog's launch will be of the street names that are etched into the sidewalks around Halifax.
Blackett told Masthead that the issues for which the magazine is best known are much across urban Canada. “It’s about providing sustainable transportation, great green spaces, attractive waterfronts,” he says.


Strategy is to drive revenue by squeezing every penny out of content, AdAge editor says

The Business Media Summit,  hosted by Magazines Canada yesterday in Toronto heard an editor, Jonah Bloom of Advertising Age magazine, spend most of his time talking about how to make money from content. 

Notably, knowing that his audience was almost wholly management from business-to-business magazine publishing companies, he also spent a lot of time talking about ways of maintaining quality while doing more with less. A few things struck me about his presentation. 
  • The uptake of many of their new initiatives is relatively small (numbered in the hundreds or a couple of thousand) but that the revenue from even an iPhone app can be very lucrative if handled right.
  • He essentially hires editorial staff for attitude and knowledge and trains for journalistic skills, which means he is more likely to search around for someone who knows something about something in the media and marketing world and then trains them to do the things that AdAge needs doing. 
  • Despite his own preferences, he is reconciled to the fact that where quite recently three editors might touch a story and refine it, that may be done in future with only one or two and that speed of posting and handling may to a certain extent trump accuracy.
  • He takes a very global outlook and sees audiences far outside the US.
  • Whatever he does, he is transactionally driven (my words, not his) always thinking about making money from everything the magazine does, in print or online.
I understand that Magazines Canada will be making available a video record of most of his talk. When I know where and when that will be available, I will post something here.


Quote, unquote: People demand, more, better, faster & magazines have not kept pace

“Recently, Condé Nast announced the closure of Gourmet Magazine. What happened there? It’s really very very simple: the traditional magazine has not kept pace with the needs of readers or advertisers. It isn’t that reading is going out of style – quite the opposite. It isn’t that people don’t care about quality – quite the opposite. The death of the traditional magazine has come about because people are demanding more information, of better quality, and faster.”
-- Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, in commenting on his blog the alliance of his for-profit Wikia and HP and its Magcloud digital platform to allow users to create glossy, printed magazines on their own from user-generated content. A release from HP said: "The collaboration between HP and Wikia will allow fans, aspiring publishers and writers of all types to create magazines based on the high-quality content and images created by Wikia’s more than 50,000 communities."

Labels: , ,

John Ralston Saul elected president of International PEN

Author John Ralston Saul has just been elected president of PEN International, the first Canadian to have the post in the 88-year history of the organization, according to an online posting in the Globe and Mail. The organization was founded in 1921 to promote literature and has become an important defender of freedom of speech. It now is in 102 countries around the world. Saul, who was once the president of PEN Canada and succeeds Czech writer Jiri Grusa, who held the post for six years, said in a press release:
“International PEN is the world’s most important and oldest freedom of speech and literary organisation," he said in a press release. "Almost 1,000 writers who are in prison or are in danger around the world look to us for help. We have to invent new ways of turning back the rise of authoritarian controls.
"Threats to freedom of speech are expanding in new directions, especially with the rise of populism in the post-9/11 world. In addition, hundreds of minority and indigenous languages and cultures are in danger of extinction. This is the ultimate denial of freedom of speech.”
Saul is married to former governor general Adrienne Clarkson.

Magazine boom: ad for video game "explodes" off the page.

I've always suspected that video gamers most like things that "blow up good"; now, Future US, the publishers of Offical Xbox Magazine and Playstation: The Official Magazine have incorporated augmented reality 3-D technology in their December issues. The result, according to a story in Folio:?
When readers who visit hold the ads appearing in the print editions up to their Webcam, a special landing page appears featuring a war scene for Codemaster's Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising video game. The special Web page also has links the game’s Web site, a YouTube video and feeds from Twitter and Facebook.


Quote, unquote: Truth and the nutbar

"The new key to success has been to not alienate anyone. To not be controversial. Combine that with the 'objectivity' doctrine drilled into J-school students beginning in the 1960s. Which was compounded by the media's inflated sense of its power after Watergate, and accompanying self-imposed mandate of being extraordinarily fair. The result has been the 'on-the-one-hand, on-the-other' journalism of today. Today, any newspaper article describing what is blatantly true must include in equal measure the views of nutbars holding the opposite view. 'These things we hold to be self-evident' would not pass muster with contemporary newsroom managers. Instead, the operating principle is: 'This story's not balanced, everyone you quote says water is wet. Go back and get the other side.'"
-- Toronto Star columnist David Olive in a recent post about why he retains his faith in the future of newspapers.


Toronto Life website passes 300,000 unique visitors & 2 million page views

Toronto Life magazine's strategy in recent years has not only to be the best city magazine in Canada but also to build a robust web presence. In this, it is like many -- or most -- consumer and b2b magazines today. 

So it is interesting to see the magazine's announcement that its has grown its audience to the point where it has more than 300,000 unique visitors and more than 2 million monthly page views. It's an almost 50% increase in readership in one year -- built on "news you can use", the bedrock of the print magazine content; where to eat, where to shop, where to be entertained. Page views are up by 46 per cent and visits per unique visitor have increased 58 per cent.
"Few premium online destinations in Canada, particularly with our niche, regional approach, can say that their site has attracted 90,000 new readers," says Gary Campbell, Senior Web Producer for
 Campbell, not surprisingly, credits the success to the online team but also the commitment to daily blogs and aggressive refreshment of the site ( five or six times every day).

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Magazine world view: custom celebs; auto-digital; Conde layoffs;slimmed down Playboy


Women's Health named best on Ad Age "A-list"

Women's Health has been named "magazine of the year" by Ad Age magazine, the U.S. publication for the marketing and advertising industry. And it's in large part because the publication, by Rodale, has built on its brand with a number of new revenue sources, ranging from paid membership line extensions to published books and events.
For the first time, the Ad Age "A-list" is judged on more than the usual reliable metrics (circulation and ad pages) but also for the way the candidate titles operated as brands.
The magazine, itself a spinoff from Rodale's very successful Men's Health, has an average paid circulation of about 1.4 million and it plans to increase its guaranteed rate base to 1.5 million in January.
The rest of the magazines on the "A-list" are:
Better Homes & Gardens
Family Circle
The Economist
The Week
National Geographic

NOW magazine used film to celebrate 25 years of the alternative weekly

NOW magazine, the controlled street publication is celebrating its 25th anniversary in an unusual way by creating a movie called -- NOW Magazine -- The Movie. It's filmed in 9 segments and is part documentary and part "mockumentary" making fun of itself.
It incorporates archival footage and photos and traces the 25-year history of the publication (doubtless founders CEO Alice Klein and editor Michael Hollett winced when looking at the clothes and haircuts over the years.) The "mockumentary" parts use the talents of a number of improv actors, playing NOW employees.
The publication started out as a typical hippy-dippy tabloid and has now grown into a publication that circulates 100,000 copies a week and has revenues from advertising exceeding $13 million annually.

The film will be shown on the NOW website one part a week until the full film is released.

Today's Parent publisher retiring; latest in a major management shakeup at Rogers

Ildiko Marshall, the longtime publisher of Today's Parent magazine (right) is retiring at the end of the year, according to a story in Masthead. It is but the latest in a five-month flurry of management changes that seem to be significantly flattening and consolidating the operational management of the consumer publishing operation under Ken Whyte and Kerry Mitchell.
It seems likely that Chatelaine publisher Mitchell will be assuming Marshall's duties heading Today's Parent, along with her publisher's role at Flare, Glow and Cosmetics.
Whyte now has some responsibilities with Chatelaine as well as being publisher and editor of Maclean's and publisher of Canadian Business, Profit and MoneySense.
Casualties of the shakeup included Orietta Minatel, the publisher of Flare and Deb Rosser, the publisher of Canadian Business and Profit as well as Kelly Latimer, the publisher of Glow.
Related posts:


National Geographic starts selling entire archive, free of obligations to freelance contributors

National Geographic has just released for sale a complete digital archive of the magazine going back to October 1888, following a pair of federal appeals court rulings in June 2008 that says U.S. magazine and newspaper publishers may transfer their published archives to digital format and sell them without paying further fees to freelancer contributors.
According to a story published by Folio:, anyone who buys the archive at $69.95 for the DVD-ROM box set or $199.95 for a portable hard drive can scroll, search and print with 1,200 dpi clarity.
For more than a decade, National Geographic argued in court that it shouldn’t have to pay freelancers additional royalty fees associated with the commercial sale of the first edition of “The Complete National Geographic,” which was released in 1997.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Dress to Kill fashion magazine to start
Toronto edition

A small Montreal fashion magazine called Dress to Kill is plunging into the Toronto market during LG Fashion Week next week. Its new quarterly Toronto edition will have a circulation of about 15,000 through "small upscale" boutiques in the downtown, according to a story in Media in Canada.

The magazine was launched in 2008 in Montreal and is available there in about 200 locations. The magazine sells for $4.50 a copy and there are plans to introduce a newsstand edition in Toronto sometime next year. Stéphane Le Duc, the editor in chief, says that about a quarter of the Toronto content will be exclusive and the 50-page launch issue includes advertising from Ben Sherman, Puma, Birks and Penguin. A full-page ad costs $1,850.
Ms Le Duc describes the magazine as a "bit more edgy, less mainstream" than existing Canadian fashion titles.