Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Trends and Analysis
These are for the ladies
With the death of Wish and ad carnage for the most of the category’s leading titles, the wave of large-circulation women’s service magazine launches that began in 2001 with Transcontinental Media’s debut of Elle Canada seems to have finally crashed, though not before Reader’s Digest Canada jumped onto the waning surf with Best Health, a 100,000+ circulation book launched in March 2008.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the launch has been largely successful (newsstand sell-through for the premiere issue, for example, was 41.4%, according to Coast to Coast Newsstand Services Partnership) but without any audited circulation, PMB or LNA numbers to go by, it’s difficult to gauge the title’s market strength at this stage. (Reader’s Digest Canada publisher Larry Thomas did not respond to an interview request for this story.)

The women’s service category’s last hurrah (at least for now) came in September of last year, when Transcontinental capitalized on the success of More by creating a French-language version of the book called Vita.

These are for the guys

The men’s general interest category has not been particularly fruitful for Canadian publishers in the past but that’s certainly not for lack of trying. Last year was no exception: A group of former Driven magazine staffers sped away in December 2007 to launch the masculine Sharp in April, while Bassett Publishing Inc. premiered Argyle, a manly lifestyle book aimed at the “executive demographic,” back in February.

Green is out
The trend toward “green”-themed launches curbed in 2008, with only a couple of explicitly environmentalist titles (Edible Vancouver, Good Life Living Green) debuting in the period.

Green is in
At least five publishers seemed to feel there weren’t enough magazines for rich people and decided to serve the well endowed (and the advertisers who love them) with a glut of new “luxury” magazines: Argyle, Millionaire Blueprints Vancouver, Montecristo, Indulge and Upscale Living.

Hot off the marks
Canadians got not one but two running magazines within the course of a few months last year. iRun publisher Mark Suttcliffe tells us that business for his controlled-circ title is going “better than expectations” while Canadian Running has picked up a wicked pace on newsstands, moving an average of almost 20,000 single copies per issue.

End of the race
Age is sometimes a sign of a magazine’s strength, but 2008 saw the demise of no less than 13 titles past their 20th birthdays, including Frank, Magazine PME, Time Canada and Masthead.

On the upside

Based on our current numbers, the b-to-b sector narrowly avoided title shrinkage in 2008, with the 10 new magazines outnumbering the nine closures.

On the downside
2008 was the calm before the storm. Though our current tracking of 29 closures will expand as we learn about stops missed, the number of 2009 deaths will surely surpass it: We’re already tracking 22 closures for this year, with another 10 publications M.I.A.

Tally 2008:
- Tally 2008
About Me
Tally 2008
Our annual round-up of magazine launches and closures, now in blog form.
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