“Why literary magazines should fold.”
That was the title of a blog posted by poet and essayist Michael Lista on the National Post last week, discussing the Canadian Periodical Fund (a consolidation of the Canadian Magazine Fund and the Publishing Assistance Program subsidies, which were replaced for the first time in 2010). Recently, one literary magazine did just that. Crow Toes Quarterly, the B.C.-based children’s arts and literature e-zine (with limited edition print issues) has closed after 4 years and 16 issues. The magazine is self-described as “playfully-dark” and it’s sure to make note on its homepage that you will not find any “fluffy bunnies” or “puppies” in the publication. The issues are filled with playful illustrations, given a twisted touch, and even somewhat morbid cover illustrations, such as an issue that features a young woman falling from a rooftop. At least the recommended audience was ages nine and up.
In early 2009 the government announced the Canadian Periodical Find (CPF). It’s intended to provide financial assistance to Canadian print magazines, non-daily newspapers and digital periodicals, enabling them to overcome market disadvantages and continue to provide Canadian readers with the content they choose to read. It is said to “relocate funding to small and mid-sized titles to support a diversity of Canadian magazines and newspapers throughout the country.” But when the application guidelines for the CPF were released in early 2010, Canadian book-trade magazine Quill & Quire commented on the fact that small literary magazines were getting left behind.
According to Lista in his recent piece on the subsidy, its creation will lead to more literary magazines going broke. Only magazines with a yearly circulation of 5,000 copies or more are eligible for funding under this subsidy, and many literary mags don’t meet that benchmark. He notes that some titles have already begun raising prices or reducing page counts to balance the budget. That’s not to say that the demise of Crow Toes Quarterly is a result of this subsidy—or lack thereof, when it comes to literary magazines. But the future of magazines like it may not be much brighter.
Christopher Millin, the magazine’s creator and publisher, left some final words on its website. He wrote that despite the financial problems they faced, which is also attributed as the reason for the publication’s closure, Millin believes Crow Toes has succeeded in showcasing some of the greatest writers and artists in the world, “even if you’ve never seen their books on the shelves at Chapters or Barnes & Noble.” And while Crow Toes Quarterly is no longer publishing, they’re still offering back-issues for sale: e-zine editions selling for $5 an issue, and the print editions selling for $8.