At a time where much of the media believes print to be irrelevant and the industry struggles with changed consumer habits and altered patterns of consumption, it is sometimes nice to just set aside its concerns and worry and to celebrate.
On Tuesday February 24th, in Toronto Ontario Canada, we celebrated the best Covers 2014 at the Canadian Cover Awards ceremony. The competition and subsequent awards are organized and given out co-jointly by Magazines Canada and the Circulation Management Association of Canada (CMC).
This is more than a gathering of creative in New York, critiquing each other's work, these magazines have to work to earn their status as the best of the best. They have to perform in stores and the entries are judged on a variety of factors from sales and efficiency, to innovation of marketing the particular issue. Then, only then, the creative work on the cover is reviewed, critiqued and if worthy, chosen. I know this, because I had the honour this year of being on the committee. To further reduce bias, the committee is a combination of the various levels that make up the magazine ecosystem.
Along with members of Magazines Canada, the committee is comprised of representation of a Publisher and Creative Designer, Retailer, Distributor, Wholesaler, and Publishing Consultant. Initially, judging the entrants is an on-line exercise and with all of the entrants each year, it certainly is a commitment of time. The time spent is so worth it, because it is really so interesting to see how certain magazines are selling and how they are attracting shoppers to pick up and purchase their magazine from the rack. Following the on-line judging, the scores are tallied. This year the final judging took place at the Magazines Canada office. There, we battled it out for our choices of which covers should gain the titles: Gold, Silver, or Bronze. (Well, actually, we didn't battle, it was a pretty amicable discussion where we all learnt something from each other and came to consensus on the winners). It was great to have a Creative Designer in the room, because there were some covers that looked good at first glance, but still didn't quite hit the mark and we couldn't understand why. He helped break down the elements for us and this gave us that ah ha moment and clarity of which covers truly deserved the wins. I may never be able to look at covers the same again.
At the award's event on Tuesday evening... Even with the knowledge of who had been chosen, it was exciting to be in the room as the winners were announced. We were recognizing excellence! How could that not be exciting. And as much as many were in competition with each other, there was that industry passion we all share resulting in many congratulatory hurrahs following each category's announcements.
Beyond this event and others that have been happening in New York, I think it's important to celebrate because yes, there are things that print can do that digital cannot. If you've been to the magazine section in a store lately you might have noticed different cover treatments, multiple covers, stunning pictures, pictures and articles that yes, in some cases shock and in many bring insight and also inspire. When you pick up a magazine, you may notice the feel of it. My favourite right now is the matt paper that feels a bit like suede. It's just so luxurious to me and it really draws me in. The cover gets the buyers' interest and as that person moves through the curated content and experiences the passion and creative, that is the magazine's personality, it's like making a discovery and the tactile feel is part of the experience that a print magazine provides.
So take a look at this year's Canadian Cover Award Winners and celebrate with us. Check out the magazine section next time you are in a store and re-discover the pleasure of flipping through a print magazine.