YES and KNOW kids' science magazines
[This post has been updated]The sudden closure of YES, a science magazine for youths 7 to 14 and KNOW a science magazine for kids 6 to 9, published by Peter Piper Publishing Inc. of Victoria, B.C., may be an object lesson for small publishers.YES started in 1996; KNOW six years ago.
In August, 2009, the Mad Science Group, based in Montreal, bought out Peter Piper Publishing, owned by David Garrison and his wife Shannon Hunt. The intention had been to seek investment in the magazines and the fit seemed good, including promoting the titles to the many franchises and customers for Mad Science's in-school and after-school science programs around the world.
The Garrisons continued to work for the magazine but the support and promotion they had expected didn't happen and circulation began to slip.
In other words, the Garrisons had every reason to believe their magazines were going to get the investment and the attention that they hoped for.
Suddenly, on January 26, Mad Science telephoned, told the magazine to cease immediately and not to talk to vendors, suppliers or customers. Six employees lost their jobs. At the time, YES had about 13,000 subscribers, KNOW about 12,000. The websites were closed down and a simple message displayed:
"Due to current market conditions of the publishing industry combined with the decline in subscriptions, it became extremely challenging to maintain the operations of the magazine. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may cause."There was no indication of the status of existing subscriptions. [UPDATE: Mad Science was asked for a statement, but essentially reiterated the sentence above.]
While they were forbidden to tell anyone about the closure (and given virtually no time to find other investors or a viable alternative), Hunt did write a poignant farewell e-mail to their regular contributors, saying (in part):
It's been a draining week, helping Dave and Sue pack up 16 years worth of my life. So many magazines...so many memories...starting so hopefully with a single computer in a corner of my parents' living room, wondering if it was really possible for two people to make a magazine, trying to proofread pages with a baby sleeping on my chest, making the big move to a real office after years of working in our basement.
It's been challenging -- never quite being able to take the magazines from surviving to thriving -- but I'm not sorry we tried. We made some great magazines together. Thank you all for the articles, the art, the photos, the poems. We've enjoyed working with you all, such a talented group of people. I will miss reading your articles, poring over your illustrations.
Dave and I will soon be back in a corner of a living room, wondering what to do next, but one thing is for sure, we will be wishing you well, watching for your names in print and on the net, and who knows, maybe we will be lucky enough to bump into you again one day. After all, anything's possible, right?
The general tone of bewilderment and anger carried over in various blog postings by writer and former KNOW editor Adrienne Mason and illustrator Glen Mullaly.