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‘Financial challenges’ forced ACA to close Paddler magazine, says former publisher

Economic challenges in the paddlesports market and publishing world forced American Canoe Association to suspend publication of Paddler magazine. SNEWS® gets the inside perspective from the former publisher.

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Paddler magazine, which recently ceased publication, was another victim of the poor economy and the rocky publication industry, Glen Bernard, former Paddler publisher, told SNEWS®. “There were a number of things that caused the shutdown,” he said.

Due to the recession, the American Canoe Association, which owned Paddler magazine, “experienced a lot of steep financial challenges that were endemic to a lot of non-profit organizations,” said Bernard. In the end, the ACA couldn’t keep pace with rising publication costs.

“Our printing and paper costs were up 27 percent, ink was 10 to 12 percent and postage was up about 12 percent in 2009,” said Bernard.

While publication costs were rising, ad revenue declined as the paddlesports market struggled.

“We weren’t getting the same level of advertising, and nobody was,” said Bernard, noting that the marketing pool of dollars in the paddlesports market dropped 35 percent to 40 percent from 2007 to 2009. 

Bernard said Paddler also struggled to deal with the fact that about 20,000 copies of each issue went to ACA members for free. “That was a six-figure hole for us to plug each year in terms of cash flow,” he said. Unfortunately, the magazine was too cash-poor to fill that hole.

“Had we been receiving the baseline costs for producing those issues, Paddler would have been profitable,” he said. “If you have that cash, you stay alive. If you don’t have that cash, you can’t take your lumps.”

ACA members will now receive magazines produced by Rapid Media, the Canada-based publisher of Rapid, Canoeroots, Adventure Kayak and Kayak Angler magazines, ACA reported in a statement on its website (

“ACA members choose the magazine they want and they can also choose how they have it delivered — mail, online or to their iPad/iPhone,” Scott MacGregor, publisher and founder of Rapid Madia, said in the statement. “Members may also add additional magazines at a special ACA member rate. The spring issues of Rapid, Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots and Kayak Angler will be the first members receive.”

As for the staff of Paddler, Bernard said editor Mike Kord left the magazine in 2009, and editor Christian Knight left in March 2010.

Bernard told SNEWS he is currently assessing his options. “I put 24 years of my life in serving the paddlesports market, and in a perfect world, I’d like to making a living there,” he said. “But I have to have a 360-degree field of vision now, and I am looking around.”

While disappointing, the Paddler shutdown didn’t come as a complete surprise to some, as the publication has seen troubled times before. The ACA suspended publication of the magazine’s May/June 2009 issue when Quebecor, Paddler’s printer, would not extend the magazine’s credit, Bernard told SNEWS.

–Marcus Woolf