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The printed word in the Internet age

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As the Internet caught on and newspapers, magazines and publishers steadily expanded their web-based operations, many claimed the death of the printed word was approaching fast. In fact, the ‘paperless world’ boldly predicted with the coming of the Internet has not quite materialized: books, magazines and newspapers are still popular with Canadians.

Despite rising operating expenses, periodical publishers have distributed enough magazines and other regular publications to stay financially stable. Operating revenues—the vast majority coming from print and online advertising, subscriptions and circulation sales—have climbed each year, from $1.85 billion in 2004 to $2.07 billion in 2006. While expenses such as production, printing, marketing and distribution have climbed at a slightly faster pace, the periodicals industry maintained healthy profit margins over the same period. In 2006, periodical publishers earned about 11 cents of profit on every dollar earned.

Periodical publishers in Ontario enjoyed most of the growth, while publishers in Quebec, the Prairies and British Columbia and the Territories saw small increases. Revenues declined slightly in the Atlantic provinces.

Newspaper publishers have also stayed profitable. From 2002 to 2006, their revenues increased 15% to $5.3 billion. With operating expenses rising 14% during the same period, profit margins held steady at 13% in 2006.

Revenue growth in book publishing, however, has been weaker, rising 1.6% in 2005. Overall profits for the $2.4 billion industry increased, from $227 million in 2004 to $285 million in 2005.