5560 Morris Street
Corner of Morris and Queen
What's the literary sensibility like in Halifax? Is there openness for other Canadian, American, and International writing, or is there favouritism for local authors, poets, and writing projects?
Halifax loves to read and write. We have the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia, Poet Laureate Tanya Davis, a number of reading series, Word on the Street, and tons of book launches and signings. There are many local writers and poets that get published in a variety of literary journals.
Most of our holds are for those issues they are featured in and more often than not they are Canadian titles. Thankfully there are two large local book publishers and at least ten smaller publishers that I get to choose which books to order and incorporate into the magazine sections. That being said, there have been lots of requests over the years for American titles, as well magazines such as The Baffler, Paris Review, and the popular McSweeney's.
While your blog sports a top-ten list of magazines from May of last year, what's your sense of which magazines are flying off the shelves this year? And why?
Monocle, The New Yorker, British Country Living, and, depending on who is on the cover, Vanity Fair continue to be our big sellers. We have very well read customers who look for challenging, interesting, and quality magazines. There is a shared sense of passion between the publisher and the reader that translates into purchased magazines!
As your website states, you are "Halifax's Original Newsstand," in the business of selling not only magazines, but newspapers and maps, too. What kinds of trends have you noticed with the magazines in the past fourteen years?
Magazines definitely ebb and flow. Quite often global events or technological changes affect what arrives on the newsstand. Years ago we used to get 40-50 copies of Computer Shopper and they would fly off the shelf. As more and more people owned computers, the sales dwindled off and now the magazine doesn't exist. Then there was a trend in Mac and computer design mags, and now there are the bookazines featuring apps, androids, Google, and iPads, etc.
After 9/11, home and cooking magazines took off as peopled cocooned trying to bring a sense of comfort and security into their lives. One of the newest trends is "reader supported" magazines such as Upper Case and Inventory. They are beautifully produced on heavy grade matte paper, perfect bound with little to no advertising and have smaller frequencies. These titles are shipped directly to stockists. They don't go through a traditional newsstand channel at all, which keeps distribution specialized.
If it is a fashion magazine you can find copies at a clothing retailer or specialty newsstand. People are willing to pay a higher cover price as these titles are so well produced. The beautiful photos, great lay-outs, reams of content, plus the look and feel of the paper all contribute to the uniqueness and feeling of permanency to the magazine.
What kind of a difference has your online presence made (between the website and blog and twitter) for Atlantic News? And in a larger sense, how do you see technology aiding the transfer or sharing of literature in the future?
The website has been used as a tool by most customers so they can find out what titles we carry. The blog, well... I have been rather lapse on that. In the past there have been so few comments that I am unsure how interesting or useful my customers found it. Plus I discovered Twitter and as it is the perfect avenue for Atlantic News I have neglected the blog. For example we have sent out a tweet asking "horrid or gorgeous?" in reference to an attached photo of a stiletto boot covered in studs and spikes on the cover of In Trend Shoes. It got lots of response and extended to several conversations plus requests to put the magazine aside. We also tweet a "Did you know..." adding an interesting tidbit citing the magazine we read it in.
We have so many interesting covers, articles, or brand new titles that Twitter is the perfect venue to share. I think that technology provides more vehicles for expanding peoples’ interest or awareness of literature. For example, Culture magazine was describing how Shakespeare's sonnets have translations along with the original, or for A Clockwork Orange, you can click on the words and Stanley Kubrick’s etymology will appear. Literature becomes interactive.
What influences how you choose magazines to carry, or other store content?
"New to Us" magazines arrive two ways. As we have been around so long and have such an extensive selection of titles our suppliers ship us new titles automatically and we welcome that completely.
The other way is customer request and we get lots of those. If our suppliers carry them it is no problem to order them in. If no supplier has it and the publisher is shipping directly, I have to decide whether we will be able to sell it or not. Usually the ones we do bring in are really niche titles such as Roleur from the UK, or Jeanne D'Arc Living from Denmark. We are always looking for interesting items for the shop.
We are the neighbourhood store but we are very much a destination also. I carry about ten different kinds of licorice, many of them from Europe. We are also known for our unique cards. It's hard to describe how I choose or what I look for, but uniqueness is definitely one criteria.
Do you see the role of the magazine changing in the near future, or do you think it is currently well-positioned as a form for sharing literature?
The future of magazines is a fairly common source of conversation for me. I completely believe that print is here to stay. The breadth of titles and the distribution might change, but people like paper. Recently in the MARC (Magazines at Retail Canada) 2012 study, 71% of Canadian magazine readers report they prefer the print format. We live in a very throw away society. Print has a sense permanency, and as one reader said, it is restful.
I think lots of people crave the intimacy of magazines and journals. Lots of people also like to go back to them and reread them, or access an article for a project. The same of course can be said of digital for archival purposes.
One of the interesting conclusions a number of years of ago when print versus digital was so in your face, is that publishers determined that people weren't abandoning print for digital but that digital was courting new readers all together. Publishers who provide excellent content, striking lay-outs, and understand that digital and print support each other, will be able to continue the magazine’s traditional role as an excellent read and pleasure provider!
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