Our Canada, the Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada-owned magazine that publishes reader-contributed stories and photographs about this country, is one of the great publishing success stories of the past decade. Within two years of its January 2004 launch, the bimonthly magazine had 238,000 subscribers; today, that number is closer to 300,000. But with six issues a year, reader’s wanted more, editor-in-chief Peter Stockland says.
Our Canada made good on "user-generated content" before it became hip.
“We were getting a lot people saying, ‘Why can’t we have it 12 times a year,’” Stockland says, “There was a lot of reader feedback that said, ‘Give me more! Give me more! Give more!’” Hence the launch of More of Our Canada, a subscription-only magazine that offers Our Canada readers just what they wanted. “We saw an opportunity and went for it,” Stockland says.
RD chose the two magazine path, Stockland says, because “we didn’t want people put in a position where they didn’t have a choice, where we would force another six issues a year on them and charge them a commensurate increase in the subscription price.” After a single issue and one circulation promotion, RD has received about 34,000 subscription requests for More of Our Canada. A subscription to More of Our Canada costs $20.96, the same price as a subscription to Our Canada.
Editorially, there are some minor variations between the two magazines. Our Canada, for example, has a section called "This Old Car" that carries stories about antique vehicles, while More of Our Canada has a section called "Wheels," which is open to submissions about modern cars. But as Stockland points out, “It’s essentially the same magazine.”
Our Canada typically receives about 400 submissions from readers per issue. The stories selected go through the same editing process they would at any magazine using professional writers, Stockland says, a factor he believes has been integral to the magazine’s success.
“Everybody now can basically publish whatever they want on the Web,” he says. “But this process gives them the satisfaction of being in a professional quality print publication where the writing, the editing and the photography have the highest standards. People get an enormous sense of satisfaction from that.”