Monday, June 27, 2011

The Future of Digital Publishing (Part One of Two)

Photo courtesy D Molyneaux Photography

Big Picture Perspective on Digital Publishing
There are no certainties when it comes to predicting the future, especially when it comes to digital publishing. Understandably, some prefer to sit back and see how this all plays out before launching headfirst into the unknown. It can’t hurt, however, to hear the perspective of some of the bigger players, gleaning tips where they apply to your business, storing the rest as knowledge of the bigger picture.

Luncheon with Editor in Chief
All of this is to say that there was much to be learned at the “Publishing in the Digital Age ” luncheon with Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief of It’s true, Hansen has a digital team that most small publishers in the audience could only dream of. There were, however, some broader themes to consider (and yes, more questions than answers).

Building Online Brand and Community
To the many magazine publishers in the audience, Hansen reassured them that print is still very much alive; that said, magazine publishers will have to start thinking of themselves as much more than print publishers in this digital era—it’s about building brand and developing community.

Questioning the Essence of the Magazine
Hansen highlighted how new forms of communications technologies are profoundly changing written culture; with the introduction of the iPad, for example, the mobile web traffic at went from 2% to 20% in less than one year. All of this raises conceptual concerns for our industry: What is the essence of a magazine? Can it exist on a mobile app, iphone, etc? How far can we push the notion of a magazine before it becomes something else entirely? What are the core values that need to be preserved?

Mobile Devices Monetizing Content
On the business side of things, Hansen sees the advent of mobile device capabilities as revolutionary for monetizing online. With apps, people are warming up to the notion of paying for content with their mobile devices; this shift to mobile consumption suggests that publishers must turn to these platforms as a way to recapture some of their online value. Hansen’s advice is to start small, with enhanced features for paid content, for example, and see how this plays out.

Stay tuned for Part Two of "The Future of Digital Publishing"...

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

A Pondering About Magazine Awards...

Where were the Alberta Awards Accolades?
The awards season has wrapped once again. Shout-out to Anders Knudsen for winning Best Art Direction—Cover for the December 2010 issue of Avenue Calgary at the Western Magazine Awards (WMAs). 

There were no big surprises with The Walrus leading the wins at the National Magazine Awards (NMAs) and Swerve doing the same at the WMAs. The winner of Best Cover at the NMAs did stir up some fuss, but frankly, I was pleased to see an underdog get some recognition.

I was disappointed that more Alberta magazines didn’t come away with accolades. There is certainly no shortage of talent here. So what’s up?

Big Awards for Big Budget Magazines
Well, there are a few things to consider (and I'm not just making excuses, really!). First, the costs. Many magazines are on such tight budgets that they have no money to devote to sometimes hefty entry fees. Or they can only enter one or two pieces versus 20 or 30. As well, in the magazine world, you often get what you pay for. So, big-budget mags can hire the best writers who tend to have more winning pieces. Big-budget mags also tend to have great editors and art directors for the same reasons. And so, the winner’s circle tends to be somewhat small. (There are, of course, many exceptions to this rule, but you get what I’m saying.)

Time and Familiarity Are Factors
Second, it takes time to select and prepare entries. For mags with tiny staffs or which are volunteer-run, this almost immediately takes them out of the running. Third, familiarity and subjectivity play a role in who wins. Human nature often has us selecting what is “best” based on what we are familiar and comfortable with; what we know and love essentially. Alberta magazines may not have the same reach as larger mags. 

Alberta Industry Still Growing
Finally, while the Alberta industry has made great strides in the level of creativity and professionalism, it’s still young and has room to grow compared to some other parts of the country. But certainly several of our titles are analogous to national ones.

The Awards Judging Process
Having judged for both the NMAs and WMAs, I know firsthand that the spectrum of entries is gargantuan. Some are truly spectacular while others are lacking at best. The whole process is somewhat tricky. Judges only see an entry in and of itself. But this is not how they exist in reality. A feature exists within the pages of a magazine—that is, with other content all packaged together. And so, judges rarely experience an entry as a reader does. Also, judges don’t often know what a magazine’s mission or audience are—two critical factors for how a story comes together. If judges don’t fit the target, the story may have little appeal to them.

Alberta and Indy Magazine Recognition, Please
All said, there will always be winners and losers. Most of the time, the winners genuinely deserve the recognition. I just wish that more Alberta magazines, or independent publishers in general, were able to throw their hats in the mix for consideration.

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Thursday, June 23, 2011

MagNet National Magazine Conference Summary

Links to Conference Session Summaries
This year's national magazine conference MagNet, hosted by Magazines Canada, took place in Toronto June 7 - 10, 2011. I wasn't able to attend myself this year, so I did some digging for postings of session summaries, highlights and feedback, the links for which I thought I'd share below.

Kat Tancock (winner of this year's Tweeting prize) also provides her notes and links for several sessions on the Masthead blog and on her own blog Magazines Online:

Nestor" E. Arellano blogs about the Money Makers: New – and Ethical – Ideas for Advertising and Editorial” panel moderated by Peter Carter (Today’s Trucking) with feature speakers Laura Dunphy (Salon), Erin McLaughlin (Style at Home & Canadian Gardening) and Tara Tucker (LOULOU Magazine).

Future of Media presents highlights of the MagNet Marquee keynote presentation “Welcome to the Digital Jungle” with Evan Hansen of 

Conference Speaker Audio Podcasts
If you’re eager to hear more from MagNet 2011, Magazines Canada has two new AudioMag podcasts featuring this year’s speakers:
AudioMag Episode 26: Chuck Underwood (keynote) provides an understanding of the pioneering research he does into generational differences, and how it differs from traditional demographics.
AudioMag Episode 25: Meg Pickard with her tips on what makes a successful blog, and how to create digital engagement online.

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tweets from Presentation with Evan Hansen of

Photo courtesy D Molyneaux Photography

I'm still reeling (in a good way!) from yesterday's "Publishing in the Digital Age" luncheon with Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief of I may follow-up with a more in-depth summary of presentation highlights for next week's MagaScene e-newsletter. In the meantime I thought I'd share some tweetables with those of you who weren't following along on twitter (#WiredInYYC):
  • Print is still alive, but think of yourselves as something broader than publishers.
  • Conceptual concern in our industry: What is the nature of a magazine? Core values to preserve?
  • Shift to mobile is changing consumer behaviour to an extent we've never seen before.
  • Instead of editorial decisions, it's now online metrics that determine which content rises to the top.
  • The iPad is the biggest source of mobile traffic for Everyone should start to build their mobile app.
  • People are warming up to the concept of paid content on mobile devices.
  • Digital revenues account for 40% of the Wired brand (including the magazine).
  • Each platform requires a very tailored approach, you can't just transfer content across media.
  • The web operation is fully editorially independent of the Wired magazine staff. They have daily editorial content, with a schedule more like that of a print newspaper.
  • Recast your brand for the web. puts a premium on investigative stories, concentrating on daily content.
  • Let your digital team at the magazine function independently of the magazine for their content creation.
  • Future of advertising on web: people want cross-platform. Partnership, sponsorship, something unique
  • The web is the web. If you want to succeed, don't act like a magazine, act like a web site

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back-to-work legislation to end postal lockout

Back-to-work Legislation for Postal Workers
So it looks like Harper's government is going to introduce back-to-work legislation next week to end the postal lockout, according to an article in Masthead. That's good news for the many magazine publishers and other small business owners who rely on postal service to deliver their products. 

Role of Postal Service in Online World
In light of this lockout, how critical is the postal service to your business or your daily life for that matter? Given how much I use e-mail and e-billing and the like, I really never thought I used the post office that often, but in reality, I do. I get my magazines; I get my community rags; I get my stuff I order online. These are all things I need and/or want that I rely on Canada Post to get to me.

More Efficient Postal System
But would it hurt if our mail went to three days a week instead of daily? I don't necessarily think so. Canada Post says it lost $100 million from the rotating strikes, but those strikes showed that a different mail schedule could work. If nothing else, I hope all of this acts as a catalyst for Canada Post to look at ways to become more efficient and cost-effective for everyone--staff, customers, management--involved.

--- Colleen Seto AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Meet Evan Hansen (The Man Behind

“We’re trying to one-up Google.” You know you’re in the big leagues when you aim to have your own web reputation ranking tool contend with the leading search engine. That was one of several ambitions outlined by editor-in-chief Evan Hansen in a 2008 interview with

It certainly didn’t hurt to think big, with 2009 proving to be a landmark year for the website. It had emerged stronger than ever from the merger of three years prior, which saw Conde Nast acquire from Lycos and re-unite the site with their magazine counterpart Wired.

There were also awards accolades aplenty for in 2009: winners of the prestigious title of Best Magazine Website from both the MPA (The Association of Magazine Media) and AdWeek; honoured for their experiments in user-generated reporting methods by the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism; and recognized as a Finalist for Best Interactive Feature from ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors).

In other words Hansen, the man behind for the past six years, knows a thing or two about successful online publishing.

That's why the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association decided to bring him to Calgary, as part of the Joint Marketing Initiative lecture series, in partnership with the Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Marketing Association, Digital Alberta, and the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association. Hansen will speak at the Publishing in the Digital Age luncheon event June 21st at Hotel Arts in Calgary.

[updated: This event is SOLD OUT!!!]

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pages of Stories Online Literary Magazine

I'd like to introduce you to one of AMPA’s newest literary additions, Pages of Stories. Originally developed by Darlene Poier and her husband Gary, Pages of Stories brings an abundance of short stories to each issue. It’s based out of a small town magazine situated in Crossfield, Alberta, but this digital magazine has big dreams: “We are situated in a little town in Alberta, Canada but we aim to have our published stories come from all over the world.” (As a side note: I grew up in a small West coast town and, not to brag or anything, we brought you The Beachcombers series and Charlie St. Cloud.) 

If you’d like a sneak peek of the magazine, check out the Bits of Pages section. Be forewarned, you might just get hooked and subscribe! 

To read more about the magazine, the publisher, or to follow the blog, click here:
---Andrea Cubala
Volunteer AMPA Blogger

Friday, June 10, 2011

Awards season is here: Alberta Oil Wins at KRW, plus, don't miss: NMAs, WMAs, Oilweek's Rising Stars

Congratulations to Alberta Oil published by Edmonton's Venture Publishing, for multiple wins at the 57th Kenneth R. Wilson (KRW) Awards. The awards for business press journalism were presented in Toronto. There were 20 awards handed out from 174 nominations from 62 business-to-business magazines.  

Alberta Oil won both gold and silver in the Best Photograph category, as well as a gold for Best/Resource/Infrastructure Article. Congratulations to all the contributors!
  • Best Resource/Infrastructure Article
    Gordon Jaremko

    Launching Pad
  • Best News Coverage
    Honourable Mention
    Jeff Lewis

    Nuclear Winter
  • Best Photograph
    Kelly Redinger

    Ripe for Picking

  • Silver
    Michael Morrison

    A Long Shadow
  • Best Illustration
    Honourable Mention

    Todd Julie

    Carbon Reins
About: Alberta Oil magazine offers its readers a unique insight into the Canadian energy sector, a community attracting international attention as "the quiet energy superpower." Throughout the pages of Alberta Oil, readers meet those individuals who are shaping the policy, the practice and the pursuits of Canada's energy industry.

Get your gala wear ready for the red carpet and celebrate publishing's many luminaries:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spacing Road Show to hit Edmonton and Calgary!

Spacing magazine is going national!

In support of its first national issue, publisher Matthew Blackett and editor Shawn Micallef are heading out on a cross-Canada tour to celebrate the launch of the national issue and to lead discussions on urbanism and city design in the nation's big cities.

You may remember Matt from when he was an AMC speaker a few years ago and shared his tips for clever marketing and circulation campaigns. Based on how noteworthy Toronto-based Spacing has been to date, the national issue of Spacing is sure to be a good read.

The Spacing tour will hit Edmonton on Wednesday, June 22 at the Art Gallery of Alberta and Calgary on Friday, June 24 at Bankers Court.

Each party will feature a panel with the Spacing team and three local panelists to discuss the top public spaces in Edmonton and Calgary as well as the state of good design. Panelists are still to be announced although they've just confirmed local blogger Mack Male for Edmonton.

COST: $5 (gets you in the door and a copy of the new national issue)
See the Edmonton and Calgary Facebook event pages for full details.

--- Colleen Seto AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Friday, June 3, 2011

Publishing in the Digital Age - Luncheon with

These days, the lines between being a publisher, editor, and technologist are blurring. While content remains king, multiplying forms of delivery and consumption require both the ability to adapt, and the savvy to take advantage of new business models and opportunities.

At the "Publishing in the Digital Age" luncheon Evan Hansen, Editor-in-Chief of, will provide insight into the worlds of digital, online and mobile platform publishing through his experiences as the steward of one of the world’s most innovative and viewed online sites.

For those that decry the death of print and paid content, Hansen offers an inspirational perspective—that we are on the verge of a brave new world that encourages content providers to act as brand managers, leveraging traditional print and online presences to colonize an array of growing business opportunities: including apps, e-books and digital interactive ads.

"Publishing in the Digital Age" is presented by the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, as part of the Joint Marketing Initiative lecture series, in partnership with the Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Marketing Association, Digital Alberta, and the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association.

Register for "Publishing in the Digital Age" by Thursday June 16, 2011 at 4:00pm. Registration will close before June 16 if all available spots are sold. Space is limited, so register early!