Masthead News Archives
December 2006

December 28, 2006
Science magazine for kids turns 25

Anniversary issue (January 2007)
MONTREAL—What began as a scrawny digest-sized magazine about science targeting kids is celebrating its 25th year next month.

Les Débrouillards: Drôlement Scientifique (loose translation: Resourceful Kids: Science that’s fun) has really found a warm spot in the hearts of Quebec kids aged 9 to 14—and their parents, says publisher Félix Maltais. “We are the first youth magazine in Quebec to reach 25 years of age,” he says. The brand has proved to be a durable one, spawning clubs in various cities around the province as well as a television show and book publishing operation.

Publisher Félix Maltais

The 10-times-a-year publication has a paid circulation of about 27,000, 98% of which is via subscription.

December 21, 2006
Magazine dies following “cosmetic surgery”

The cover of the relaunched issue (August/September 2006)
AURORA, Ont.—It used to be known as Sales Promotion, a bimonthly glossy trade mag for sales and marketing professionals. This fall, the CLB Media title relaunched it as sellingEssentials with a fortified website. Last week in an e-bulletin to subscribers, CLB announced that the 14-year-old magazine and complementary site will close by year’s end.

In her note to readers of the August/September issue, publisher Jackie Roth explained that results from a reader survey indicated a need for a major design overhaul. “While cosmetic surgery is never without pain, we think you’ll find that our summer hiatus was worth the effort,” she wrote.

Editor Nathan Mallett has left the company, however it would appear many of the magazine’s staff have been retained. “While the decision to cease publication has not been easy,” states the e-bulletin, “the staff at sellingEssentials will continue to serve the information needs of Canadian business professionals through our many other CLB Media publications in 2007.”

Happy holidays to all
MISSISSAUGA, Ont.—MastheadOnline wishes all of our valued subscribers a safe and happy holiday season. Most staff at the website and the magazine have been released from their harnesses for the remainder of the year in order to reacquaint themselves with family and friends, but one elf has been seconded to post a story next week. We’ll return to our regular publishing schedule next month with more news on Canada’s periodical publishing industry.

December 20, 2006
The Beaver tests first-ever covermount

Makes a great stocking stuffer
WINNIPEG—Repurposing content from an online educational initiative, Canada’s magazine for history buffs is hoping to boost newsstand sales and generate new subscribers by offering a premium to newsstand buyers.

All 5,900 newsstand-bound copies of The Beaver’s December/January issue had CD package mounted on the cover. The content was taken from the Society’s educational website at www.furtradestories.ca, which chronicles Canada’s fabled fur trade history.

Society president and CEO Deborah Morrison says the CDs had a per-unit cost of 97 cents. It cost about four cents per unit to tip each CD package onto the magazine.

While it’s too soon to tell how effective the premium was, coded reply cards will eventually answer that question.

December 19, 2006
B2B publishers depart Rogers

Richard Elliott
TORONTO—After taking a few months to settle in as senior vice-president of Rogers amalgamated trade division (Business & Professional Publishing Group), John Milne has implemented some changes.

John Milne

Four long-time employees have left the company: 29-year veteran Richard Elliott, executive publisher Marketing Group/ Meetings and Travel Group; Coatings publisher Peter Wilkinson; Materials Management & Distribution publisher Warren Patterson; and veteran art director Michael Cleland. Milne declined to comment on the departures.

Jim Hicks

In a lateral move, Jim Hicks, publisher of Cosmetics and Cosmétiques magazines, now reports not to Milne but Mitch Dent, senior vice-president, Sales, Consumer Publishing. Hicks’ new title is executive director, Cosmetics and Beauty Group. He’ll use his beauty-industry contacts to forge closer event and advertising ties with such related titles as Flare and Glow.

December 14, 2006
Tories order Canada Post to maintain funding
OTTAWA—Magazine publishers got an early Christmas present from the Harper government yesterday after it announced that it has directed Canada Post Corp. to reverse its decision to withdraw from the federal Publications Assistance Program. Canada Post was set to pull $15 million from PAP’s $60-million purse by April 2007.

It’s uncertain, however, how long Canada Post must operate under the “directive.” Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities who is responsible for Canada Post (an agency of the Crown) said CPC will continue funding PAP “for up to two more years.” In other words, one year for sure, maybe two.

Presumably, the uncertainty allows for some wiggle room to accommodate the arrival of a longer-term solution. “[Canada Post] will continue to provide funding in support of the Publications Assistance Program while Canadian Heritage determines the best way to support the Canadian publishing industry in the years to come,” reads the statement from Cannon’s office.

Publishers have been fretting that their postal costs would jump by an average of 31% next year following the April 2007 withdrawal of Canada Post Corp.’s $15-million contribution. Non-daily newspapers also access PAP, but about 75% of the funding goes to magazine publishers.

Lobbying efforts by Magazines Canada and the Canadian Business Press have paid off.

“We thank Minister Cannon and [Heritage] Minister Oda for their leadership in addressing the need to maintain Canada Post’s partnership in the delivery of Canadian magazines until new solutions can be developed,” says CEO Mark Jamison. “Canadian magazines lead Canada’s cultural media industry with a market share of 41% of total magazine sales and the PAP program and Canada Post delivery of Canadian content magazines play a critical role in this success.”

Editor assists beleaguered New Orleans homeowners

Although Katrina smashed New Orleans more than 15 months ago, this remains a familiar scene
TORONTO—Canadian Home Workshop editor Douglas Thomson took an unusual holiday last month. He went to Louisiana to help gut homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
Douglas Thomson pitching in

“Canadian Home Workshop has given me a lot of hands-on experience and I thought that by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans I could probably put my building skills to good use, rebuilding damaged homes. But once I got there I realized that although there was some re-building going on, what they really needed was people to help gut the homes that were flooded,” said Thomson in a released statement. “The area I was working in, St. Bernard’s Parish, is much like any other suburban neighborhood back home [in Toronto]. Unfortunately this area was one of the worst hit.  At its peak, the water reached about 15 feet (which is over the roof of many homes) and stayed there for almost two weeks.”

Douglas Thomson

Thomson, whose efforts were sponsored by Canadian Home Workshop, was one of 250 volunteers organized by Habitat for Humanity to carry out the work.

“It’s an odd experience going into a stranger’s home and carrying all of their belongings out.  Literally everything they own, out through the front door in a wheelbarrow and piling it all on the front lawn in a heap,” Thomson says.

December 13, 2006
TV Guide connects to Sympatico to build reach

Natalie Larivière
TORONTO—In a bid to tap into the massive traffic generated by a leading portal, Transcontinental Media has announced that it has linked with Bell Canada’s sympatico.msn.ca website.

Bell claims its site generates 19 million unique visitors per month. “Aligning Canada’s most respected source for TV listings and information with the country’s number-one Internet portal is a win-win partnership,” said Transcontinental Media president Natalie Larivière in a released statement.

After a 30-year run in Canada, TV Guide converted from a paid-circ printed weekly publication to a free online resource last month. Typing in www.tvguide.ca now results in a redirection to the Sympatico site.

December 12, 2006
Torstar ex-partner to launch rival mag

The Fall 2006 issue — Chioma's last as partner
TORONTO—Torstar/Metroland and Chioma, the one-name motivational speaker and founder of Sway—a quarterly focusing on the Greater Toronto Area’s black community—parted ways last month. Torstar keeps Sway but Chioma is set to launch Amöi next month.
Chioma turned to publishing after a successful career in real estate sales and motivational speaking

Chioma says Amöi (which means “a forgiving god” in Nigerian) will publish quarterly and be distributed nationally via The News Group at Chapters/Indigo and Shoppers Drug Mart. It’s set to hit stands on Jan. 15 and will be based on a paid-circulation model. Sway is a giveaway title with a controlled circulation of 50,000.

New book on the block: a paid-circ quarterly set to launch next month. Circulation is yet to be determined. Main rival: Sway

Chioma could not come to terms with Torstar following the expiration of a one-year contract. She adds that there are no hard feelings between Chioma Productions and Torstar. In fact, she says she’s thankful that the big corporation gave her a chance to run with the idea for Sway in the first place. It came down to diverging visions for the magazine and its potential.

“I go to the newsstands and I see a glow of caucasian faces,” she says. “There has to be an ethnic publication that reflects the community.”

December 11, 2006
Vice expands to film, Web TV is next

The Vice Guide to Travel was released in October and includes a 72-page booklet with additional photos and interviews.
MONTREAL—It’s the most successful Canadian publishing export in history and a case study in audience connection and brand extension.

What began in 1994 as a 16-page newsprint zine covering Montreal’s flourishing punk rock scene has by fits and starts morphed into a multimedia global corporation that chronicles the raunchy, hedonistic and drug-addled underbelly of urban youth culture. There’s the flagship controlled-circ glossy Vice, Vice Records, Vice Books, clothing lines and now Vice Film. In early 2007, Internet-based Vice TV is set to launch.

Last month in Vancouver and Montreal and earlier this month in Toronto saw the screening of Vice’s first foray into film when The Vice Guide to Travel was featured at Resfest, a touring short-film festival. It’s the first in a series of DVD Vice Guides. The flick, like the mag, revels in the raw and irreverent; correspondents from the magazine visit “dangerous and weird destinations” including the Pygmy villages of the Congo, Chernobyl, and the “bomb-pocked refugee camps of Beirut so that you never, ever have to go for yourself as long as you live. We took cameras so that we could prove that we went,” reads the press material.

Vice magazine’s global advertising revenue in 2005 from all editions (there are offices in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Scandanavia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan) was C$22 million, publisher Erik Lavoie told Masthead earlier this year.

Founders Suroosh Alvi, Gavin McInnes and Shane Smith used to insert a line on the Vice website that read, “Vice has become much more than a way for three guys to get laid”—a fact that is now so obvious that it need no longer be declared.

December 7, 2006
Conservative mag spoofs leftist icon

"The eye-catching result is a real conversation starter. Go wear it to your favourite lefty coffee shop, and get ready for a debate!" says clothier Ezra Levant
CALGARY—Stuck for a Christmas gift idea for the neocons in your life? Feel like provoking a few lefties? Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant has just the thing.

With tongue firmly in cheek, Levant (“publisher and conservative fashionista”) is offering readers “the Mark Steyn Che Guevara-style T-shirt” for $29.95.

Visitors to the magazine’s website are informed that the “Viva Steyn is not only an expression of your good fashion sense, it's a sign of your good political sense, too. Order this true collector's item today! Made of 100% pre-shrunk cotton. Available in Black only.”

December 6, 2006
More mag's aggressive subscription campaign

More publisher Francine Tremblay (left) and editor-in-chief Linda Lewis
TORONTO—Transcontinental Media senior vice-president Francine Tremblay and Linda Lewis, editor-in chief of the nascent Canadian edition of More magazine, to be published under license from Iowa-based Meredith Corp., met with reporters yesterday to share details about the March 26 launch.

Tremblay says the magazine, to be published five times in 2007 and eight times in 2008, will have a guaranteed circulation of 120,000, including 30,000 newsstand sales on an 80,000 draw and 90,000 mailed copies, including 30,000 paid subs and 60,000 controlled.

The subscription acquisition plan is aggressive, with an astounding 31.3 million offers planned, including:

  • 16 million co-op envelope offers
  • 10 million free-standing newspaper inserts
  • 3 million magazine/catalogue product inserts
  • 1.7 million Web offers
  • 600,000 direct mail pitches

Transcontinental says it’s investing $5 million into the launch, including $1.8 on subscription acquisition.

(Please note: the original version of this story contained inaccuracies that have been corrected with the underlined information. We reported that five issues were to be produced this year; we meant next. And we wrote that the launch represented an investment of $1.8 million. We apologize for the errors.)

December 5, 2006
Finance minister to redefine controlled circ in 2007
TORONTO—Ontario publishers of controlled-circulation magazines who cannot identify, by name, those who are receiving their titles, should be paying 8% retail sales tax on their printing bills. Many publishers are not even aware they they’re exposed to the tax and, in theory, owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in retroactive levies.

As previously reported, (see News Archives, Oct. 6, 2005), the government’s current definition* is narrower than definitions accepted by the magazine industry itself. For example, a magazine about widgets that is distributed for free solely at check-out racks at widget stores is not, in the government’s view, engaging in controlled circulation. A number of publishers have been waiting anxiously and praying they are not targeted for an audit.

The first significant movement towards resolving the confusion is Bill 151, which is expected to pass final reading this month and be enacted as the Budget Measures Act 2006. Once enacted, the Bill would repeal section 7(1) of the Retail Sales Tax Act (paragraph 47) from this:

Magazines, as defined by the Minister, but only where purchased by subscription.

and amended to:

Magazines, as defined by the Minister, but only where purchased by subscription or acquired under such circumstances as may be prescribed by the Minister.

A source within the Ministry told MastheadOnline that the government will very likely consult with the industry in Q1 2007 to arrive at a new definition of controlled circulation.

*Controlled Distribution
If the public can help themselves to a free magazine that is placed on a counter or newsstand, or handed out on a corner to those passing by, the distribution of the publication is not being controlled. The magazine is merely being given to whoever happens to be at “the right place at the right time” and there is no way for the publisher to know who obtained the magazine. In this case, the magazine does not qualify for exemption since its distribution is not “controlled” or “qualified”, and it is not being sold by subscription.
(Source: discontinued Guide 507, Ontario Ministry of Finance)

December 4, 2006
Alberta publisher targets China, launches second title

The perfect-bound 20,000-controlled-circ glossy quarterly launched Fall 2004
CALGARY—With China’s growing interest in Canada’s oil reserves, SkinnyFish Media, publisher of Alberta Oil magazine, is in the process of partnering with a Chinese publisher for the launch of Canada Oil.

“We’re just doing the test bed right now and it’ll be along the lines of Alberta Oil,” says SkinnyFish vice-president Verna Lidstone, noting that the title will be printed in Chinese and is targeting about 30,000 China-based subscribers. With the Chinese government no longer issuing publishing licenses to foreign companies, outsiders have to partner with a domestic license holder, which SkinnyFish is on the verge of doing. A memorandum of understanding is close to being finalized, Lidstone says. A test issue is planned for April. The editorial is ready to go, Lidstone says, all that’s needed is a firm partnership agreement. “We’re getting close. We’re hoping to have it finalized by the middle of January.”

Set to launch this month, targeting the architectural design community

The Calgary-based shop is a busy one. SkinnyFish is also launching Elemente this month, a regional 20,000-controlled-circ design/architecture bimonthly to be distributed throughout Western Canada via the Globe and Mail with a newsstand presence at Chapters/Indigo. “Influenced by some of the world’s renowned architecture and design-driven publications, Elemente provides a unique regional platform that focuses on current architectural highlights, key players, products, designs and emerging trends,” reads the media kit. (Full-page, one-time, four-colour ad is $3,275.)

SkinnyFish Media was created last April following the merger of Calgary Media Group (principals Mike Dodd and Lidstone) and Naomi Le Bihan’s SkinnyFish Designs. Dodd and Lidstone were looking to broaden their communications services (corporate video, website design, custom publishing, communications consulting) but having worked with Le Bihan on the early issues of Alberta Oil, the three decided to pool their resources and merge to form SkinnyFish Media.

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