Edmontonians magazine calls it quits, the edmontonian celebrates 1 year

After 21 years of publishing, Edmontonians magazine is calling it quits. Citing declining advertising revenues, publisher Sharon MacLean announced today via email that the June edition of the magazine will be its last.

“The news business is caught in the cyclone of change, fueled by the tremendous growth in popularity of access to news and information on the Internet. Both readership and revenues have declined significantly; major dailies have closed their doors, as have a number of magazines.”

Edmontonians had started to cultivate an online presence, amassing over 4400 followers on Twitter, but the publication remained firmly rooted in print. Perhaps anticipating a question about where the industry is going, Sharon wrote “there is much hope for the future of publishing – we simply ran out of time to bridge the transition.”

I can’t say that I was a fan of Edmontonians, but I know many people in the city really liked the publication. So far no announcement has been made on the website, so I’m not sure what will happen to the content available there. There’s also no word on what Sharon will be up to next.

The decision to cease publishing Edmontonians magazine comes at the same time that local website the edmontonian is celebrating its first year. And what a year it was! Jeff reports:

75,000+ people have checked us out. We’ve averaged 3 posts per day. We’ve got more than 2 comments per post. In the last year we’ve posted more than 780 times. We’ve also shown off more than 1,500 photos of Edmonton. We had 40+ contributors who wrote, took photos, shot video, gave us prizes, and did lots of other great stuff, all helping to tell Edmonton stories.

Of course, if you read Jeff’s actual post, you’ll see that the above stats are mixed in with his trademark writing style. Free from the constraints of print, Jeff and his partner-in-crime Sally have been able to produce content the way they want to, when they want to. That has resulted in a publication that I and many others enjoy going back to (or subscribing to) each and every day.

The similarity of their names notwithstanding, I think these publications are a great representation of two completely different worlds. The advertising-supported physical print model is increasingly under fire from the more flexible online digital media model. Will the edmontonian be around for 21 years like Edmontonians was? Almost certainly not, at least not in its current form (who knows what kind of technology we’ll have when 2031 rolls around). But for right now, its pretty clear that the edmontonian is the more sustainable model.

Congrats to Edmontonians on 21 years of telling Edmonton stories! Congrats to the edmontonian on a fantastic first year!

REVIEW: Staples Copy & Print Centre Online

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I did, and enjoyed a small break from blogging too. Time to get back into it!

staples logo One of the things I got Sharon for Christmas was a food calendar. I wanted to get her something related to photography and food, but another picture frame just didn’t seem that interesting. When I was in Staples one day, I noticed their advertising for the Copy & Print Centre, and specifically for the calendars. I took a card from the counter, and checked out the website when I got home. A couple of hours later and I had a professional looking calendar, filled with photos of food we’ve made together or of restaurants we’ve visited.

I found the website very easy-to-use, if a little basic. You can do pretty much everything online that you can do in the store. Want to print or copy something? Simply upload a file and go. You can also order custom items, such as business cards, labels, greeting cards, bookmarks, agendas, and calendars (you can download the price list in PDF here). Obviously I was interested in the calendar option.

There are four calendar styles to choose from: deluxe, classic, express, and year in view. I went with the deluxe, which lets you completely customize a full color calendar in two sizes (8.5” x 11” or 11” x 17”) and either 12 months or 18 months. Once you’ve picked those options, you can get started creating your calendar. They display some tips and tricks before you get started, which I skipped over the first time. I later went back and read them. They suggest organizing and uploading photos ahead of time rather than on the fly, and that turned out to be really good advice. By uploading your photos first, you can save your calendar before it’s finished and return to it later. It also makes it a bit faster to customize each page.

I chose a template in the 11” x 17” size and got to work. It took me quite a while to get all the images uploaded and organized and placed on the appropriate pages, but it was worth it. After you submit your order and select a store for delivery, you can download a digital proof in PDF (mine was just under 7 MB). A few days later, you’ll receive an email notifying you that your calendar is ready to pick up! Simply pay in store and you’re done. Very easy.

A few other quick comments on the website: it appears to be written in ASP.NET, which I thought was kinda cool. They also make use of some Telerik controls, such as the RadUpload component. Interestingly, I can’t find a single link back to the main Staples website – the Copy & Print Centre seems to be completely separate.

I was really impressed with the result (the photo above is from the proof). It actually does look like a professional calendar that you’d buy in a store! It helps to have high resolution photos too, I guess. On the very back of the calendar is the Copy & Print Centre logo, but otherwise it’s completely free from logos or advertising. I wonder if you could pay to have that removed? Maybe for large orders.

I’m happy to report that Sharon loved her calendar! So did her sister actually, so much so that she set about creating her own soon after seeing Sharon’s. It’s a unique, easy-to-create gift. Based on my experience, I’d definitely recommend the Staples Copy & Print Centre online.

Use podcasting to get your book published

Post ImageInteresting piece in the New York Times yesterday about authors using podcasting to get noticed and ultimately, to get their books published. Podiobooks.com founder Evo Terra was interviewed for the article:

“Compared to audiobooks these authors break every rule in the business, including using sound effects,” Mr. Terra said. The podcast books also use music and a full cast more liberally than traditional audiobooks. Still, what Podiobooks’ offerings might lack in polish, they tend to make up for in brash enthusiasm.

I’ve never been a fan of audiobooks – they are just too damn boring. Telling a story with a podcast makes perfect sense. I think it’s icing on the cake that these podcasters eventually get book deals as well.

Read: NYTimes.com

Giving credit where credit is due

Post ImageIf there is one thing that was drilled into my head in the last 8 years of my education, first in high school and then University, it is to always cite your sources. No matter if they are actually quoted from or not, if you used a source while researching something, cite it. Like so much of what I have learned at University however, that’s simply not the way it works in the real world. Case in point, a recent article on podcasting titled “Podcasting at a business near you”. It was written by Alex Dobrota, and published in the Globe and Mail on July 6th. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

Podcasting, which involves the distribution of personalized audio or video clips over the Internet to computers, laptops or digital audio players such as iPods, is becoming a new medium of communication in the corporate world. It’s being used to replace internal memos, blogs, e-mails and even trade shows. The up-and-coming technology is cost-efficient — in some cases, it requires little more than a microphone and a computer. And, as a marketing tool, it holds the potential of reaching a young and savvy audience, experts say.

Maybe the problem is that a journalist can simply put “experts say” and get away with it. In any case, I do believe I should be cited as a source for that entire paragraph. You see, Mr. Dobrota called me at around 1:30 PM on June 22nd to ask me some questions about podcasting (I remember this exactly because it was just moments after I got back to the office after the Oilers Tribute Event). He made it seem like I was being interviewed, which isn’t all that unsual given the publicity Paramagnus has received in the last few months. Evidently I was wrong. He started out asking what podcasting was, and the follow-up questions he asked made it seem as though he really didn’t have any idea what was so special about it, or why it was different than streaming audio.

After about ten minutes of covering the basics, he started asking questions about why businesses would get into podcasting, or if they already were. I mentioned the well-known case of IBM. I also said that basically, podcasting is great for businesses because they get an excellent return on investment – it costs very little to get going, and you can reach a huge audience fairly easily. I also mentioned that it was a great way for old stodgy businesses to seem hip and cool with the younger iPod carrying generation. Sounds kind of like the excerpt I mentioned above doesn’t it? Yep I thought so too.

I actually emailed Mr. Dobrota on July 1st, to ask if he had written the article. I never did get a reply from him, which makes this all the more aggravating.

Maybe there’s lots of reasons why he and other journalists can simply put “experts say”. You know, word count, page layout, that sort of thing. I just can’t help but think though, that with all the fuss about the blogosphere being a place full of unsubstantiated rumors, we’re missing that our so-called “mainstream media” don’t follow the rules either. Perhaps we should force journalists to publish a blog, properly citing their references, linking where appropriate? I don’t think it’s a bad idea. It might even have saved Dan Rather his job.

At the very least, had Mr. Dobrota kept a blog with his sources and references properly detailed, I might still have some respect for him.

Read: Globe and Mail

Maybe an Overdose?

Post ImageAs Dickson mentioned earlier, CanWest MediaWorks has decided to stop publishing the print edition of Dose, and focus instead on the online properties. The decision certainly comes as a surprise to me, and probably to most people, considering CanWest said just two months ago that Dose readership was growing:

Dose’s total readership among 12-to-64 year olds in late January was up eight per cent from three months earlier, the survey found, and now sits at 270,423. Daily readership of those aged 12 and over was 292,000.

“These results show that Dose is really resonating with its audience,” said Noah Godfrey, publisher of Dose. “We’re really pleased with the continued growth of our readership base and Dose’s strong brand awareness.”

Evidently not pleased enough! Though I don’t think the decision was Mr. Godfrey’s. Maybe the higher ups needed to run this little experiment called Dose to realize that their target audience spends far more time online than with a paper. And actually, anyone who has looked at an issue of Dose will know that it was simply an onramp to the Dose websites anyway. Urls and “more online” were scattered throughout the publication.

CanWest said it was ending the publication of Dose, but would continue publishing content to its online service, dose.ca, as well as on cellphones.

The company said 50 people would lose their jobs.

Oh well. I kind of liked the Sex Advice (so funny), and sometimes they had some great articles on blogging or some other tech topic, but for the most part, I didn’t read that regularly. I hope they do some work to make the website better now that they are focusing on the online product.

The last issue was published today.

Read: CBC News

Preliminary Podcasting Survey Results

Post ImageVia Derek I came across Peter Chen’s preliminary statistics from his podcasting and videoblogging survey. He makes it clear that the results are preliminary, and that follow-up data is being requested with more analysis to come. Having said that, the results are quite interesting! Here are some highlights I picked out:

  • Looks like the majority of podcasters publish content weekly. (48.77 %)
  • Average episode length is just over 29 minutes.
  • The average number of minutes spent producing an episode is almost 260! That’s an incredibly high number that we hope to reduce with our solutions. I know how much time it takes – that’s one reason I stopped BlogosphereRadio to focus on building the tools!
  • About 61% of respondents say they have no business model – they do it as a private endeavor. Sounds like my Average Joe Podcasting post was spot on!
  • English is overwhelmingly the most commonly spoken language. (85.75 %)
  • One stat that surprised me – around 83% of respondents were male. For some reason, I expected that to be a little lower. I think it’s because of the recent push in blogging to find female voices; I probably figured that podcasting would benefit.

Very intriguing results. I look forward to seeing what Peter comes up with next. I also wonder just how representative these numbers are – there’s no margin of error or anything posted (probably because they are preliminary results).

Read: Peter Chen