Geist: Stories from a Country in the Process of Inventing Itself
“At Geist, a Vancouver-based magazine of ideas and culture made in Canada, we like to explore boundaries - the grey area between regions (Prairie or West?), dialects (six-pack or half-sack?), forms (visual art or comics?), genres (fiction or non-fiction?). We think of these areas as “connective tissue,” the organic material that holds us together as a culture and inspires us to invent, reinvent and re-imagine our country.”
The newest grey area in cultural magazine publishing is the territory between page and screen. Geist was founded by people who didn't even have television as youngsters, never mind computers. Perhaps that's why it took them a few years to get the hang of publishing for the screen.
What steps were required? First, to comprehend that online publishing was not a digital version of print publishing. Second, to realize that people like to ingest literature and other culture from the Internet. Third, to grasp the notion of interactivity. Fourth, to increase their own web presence by collaborating with a magazine that advocates a similarly independent spirit, that is also made in Canada, and whose life is online.
That publication was The Tyee (thetyee.ca), a Vancouver-based, alternative magazine that specializes in investigative journalism. At the time it was consulted by 400-600,000 visitors every month.
With the support of the Canada Council, Geist provided The Tyee with content for a literary and cultural component. It drew on its vast bank of a thousand stories, essays and poems and some 900 book reviews, and commissioned new articles and works specifically for The Tyee.
This collaboration has allowed Geist to attract new subscribers… and to contribute more actively to the literary life of the country. Other effects were not unexpected. For instance, a reader wrote in to comment on a book review she saw online, that had first appeared in an issue of Geist 15 years ago. Here's hoping that book enjoys a new life... along with the many other books that deserve to be appreciated anew.