Canadian Magazine Industry News
4 August 2009,     TORONTO
Beyond print: The nuts and bolts of Spezzatino
The second in a series: Masthead looks inside the toolboxes of five very different online-only publications to show you how they were built from the ground up. This week: Spezzatino.

Spezzatino, launched in August 2008, is a completely volunteer-based digital food magazine that donates 100% of its revenues to charity. Each bimonthly issue—released in PDF-form only—focuses on a particular food item or theme, such as tomatoes, grapes & wine, wild game, or comfort food. The magazine was founded by members of the Healthy Food Bank, a Toronto-based charity that raises funds to provide nutritious food staples for North Americans in need.

The editorial blueprints: Editors receive all content from volunteers with a passion for food. The salaried staff member is editor-in-chief Krista Scott-Dixon, whose pay comes directly from a private corporate sponsor. And while subscribers can download each issue as a PDF file, the website itself was built using WordPress.

Spezzatino's first issue, in August 2008, featured tomatoes.
Each issue looks at a particular food from multiple angles, from history and cultural significance to cultivation and nutritive value, and features tons of recipes and high-quality photography. According to Scott-Dixon, who also serves as the Healthy Food Bank’s research director, Spezzatino was created as an innovative way for the charity to raise money beyond the typical one-time-donation model.

“We thought that people would be interested in a product that, in itself, had value, something that they could have, keep and genuinely enjoy,” Scott-Dixon says.

The audience development blueprints: Spezzatino is aimed at an educated audience of health-focused foodies who appreciate quality writing and photography. Outreach efforts have so far been limited to e-mails, a blog and a limited Facebook presence, but Scott-Dixon plans to expand marketing efforts as the magazine grows.

The business blueprints: Since the magazine is completely volunteer-based, and its office is virtual, overhead costs are “pretty much zero,” says Scott-Dixon. Spezzatino also carries no advertising, since its creators want to ensure content is not compromised. Instead, all revenue comes straight from subscriptions, whizzes past the editors and goes directly to the Healthy Food Bank. Readers can order the 12-volume subscription for $59.99 or pay $5.99 per issue.

The growth blueprints: When the magazine first launched, a huge portion of the work was done by its editors. Now, volunteers are popping up all over; talented writers and photographers have helped make each PDF issue bigger than the last. Eventually, Scott-Dixon says she would like to start binding multiple issues together as print compendiums.

As early as this fall, the magazine would also like to begin hosting events, such as food story nights and food photography workshops, to spotlight healthy eating and food communities.
— Laura Godfrey
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