Yes, fiction can be quite enjoyable, but let’s admit it: nothing can match the experience of curling up with a long, detailed report on how Canadian magazines are selling on newsstands, such as Taking Back the Rack: Amid New Challenges, Canadian Magazines Compete for Visibility on our Newsstands, produced by Abacus Circulation Incorporated for the Department of Canadian Heritage. For starters, Canada is a subscription- crazy country. We read a lot of magazines (961 consumer titles are produced here) and we like to get them delivered to our doors. Newsstand sales represent only 13.3% of all magazines distributed in Canada and single-copy sales of magazines have been in decline for more than ten years, so magazine publishers tend to regard their newsstand presence more as a promotion effort than a profit centre. In what I call the mainstream retail environment, American mags make up about 34 percent of the titles available and gobble up 70 percent of the sales, but even if they didn’t, the cost of retailing Canadian magazines would pretty well eat up the profit. A growing number of distribution agents, wholesalers and “logistics operators” are competing for magazine business, yet distribution fees for publishers have not gone down. And it is a fact of the marketplace that for every two magazines displayed, only one is sold, which doubles a magazine publisher’s print run right off the bat and brings in no extra income. To add more pressure, that 50 percent figure is a maximum, yet some large chain retailers are demanding that it be maintained or they won’t stock the magazine. The information in this report was not easy to gather. It is quite a challenge to survey all the retailers of Canadian magazines: there are big-box stores and independent newsstands; there is TV Guide and Montage. As well, an enormous amount of sales data is blocked by secretive behaviour, inadequate technology and administrative snafus. Then there is the returns system: a wasteful and expensive process whereby unsold magazines (or just their covers) are shipped back to where they came from for credit, or simply tallied and shredded. Still, the news from the world of Canadian newsstand sales is not all doom and gloom. Publishers have many options available to them in distribution, and they can exercise flexibility in promotion, pricing and marketing to stay afloat in the marketplace. As long as Canadians remain literate and savvy, there will be a market for all kinds of magazines here. Keep your eye peeled for the “Genuine Article” logo on the covers of Canadian mags, and keep reading!