We all know one: that person who, for one reason or another, knows the answer to every trivia question possible. Watching a television quiz show with that person is an exercise in tedium because they get every answer right, and you spend your nights combing the internet in search of an obscure piece of information with which to finally stump them.
Well, Michael Stevens has the utmost respect for all the trivia masters out there, but he may have developed a secret weapon to finally stump even the most experienced quiz master.
The Elmira resident is the editor-in-chief of the newly-launched magazine Get Your Facts Straight, and he is so confident in his product that he has called it “the magazine that makes you smarter.”
“For the longest time I’ve been amazed by people who knew something about everything,” said Stevens, sitting on the couch in his Carriage Hill Trail home that also doubles as his office.
“It always amazed me that they knew so much information, and I know that they got it because they read a lot.”
Yet in this technological world where the lifespan of a news story can be measured by the second, Stevens also realized that many of us don’t have the time or energy to read endless stacks of books.
That’s why he decided to release his own magazine, a way of “cheating and finding out a lot of information without reading books and books and books,” he said.
Of course, the irony is that he has been doing a lot more reading since he came up with his idea nearly two years ago.
“I guess I’m sacrificing for everyone else,” he laughed.
It all started back in 2008 when he graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in speech therapy. Since then he has worked at a sales job in Guelph, but always had the idea for a trivia magazine in the back of his mind.
Finally, after sitting on the idea for some time, he employed the help of his wife Elaine and some friends with design experience, Julia and Kaitlin Kubassek and Janette Drost, and he set out to turn his idea into a reality.
He has gotten a business license from the government of Ontario, and is waiting on the pending trademark of the magazine’s name.
Working nights and weekends, Stevens scoured the internet searching for the most interesting facts he could find.
The information isn’t just skimmed off of Wikipedia, though; he checked and triple-checked every fact in the magazine against reputable sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica.
“Obviously I can’t come out with something that is claiming to be factual and have all these holes or incorrect information,” he said.
The magazine contains information ranging from the origins of the barrier reef to the history of Snakes and Ladders.
Yet in the digital age, why should someone pay for his magazine instead of simply logging onto the computer and finding the information online?
Stevens said he has received a lot of feedback from people who like the product because it isn’t online. He notes since we spend most of our day looking at a computer screen, the last thing we want to do when we get home is look at it some more, all the while trying to find information that is reliably accurate.
“This is in no way a competition to the internet, it’s complementary. You can take this on the recliner, on the bus, on the airplane, even on the toilet,” he smiled.
The first issue includes more than 50 pages of high-definition and full-colour photos purchased from an online stock agency, and the entire package is printed in a glossy magazine format.
There are also no advertisements within the magazine, and he said the full colour and visual appeal of the product is critical in the beginning – and that includes zero ads.
“You’ve got a couple seconds for them to glance at it and if it looks interesting they’ll pick it up and read it, and if it’s not they’ll put it back down,” he said.
“I definitely put a big focus on high quality, high definition photos throughout the magazine to keep it interesting.”
Of course, it’s no secret that most publications make their money by selling ads to companies, leaving a big question mark on how he plans to monetize the product moving forward.
He has already distributed about 250 issues to offices and businesses around town, but hopes to pitch his brand to the school board as a piece of educational material that can be used to increase student interest in reading.
“If that’s the case, I would probably stay away from ads. I don’t think the education industry would want a magazine cluttered with ads for their students.”
Yet if his magazine does get picked up by larger distributors such as Chapters, he may go the advertising route to generate more income. He isn’t sure how that will work, but has toyed with the idea of sponsorship.
On a page containing trivia on a certain country, the space could be sponsored by a travel agent, for example.
He is already hard at work on his second issue, which he hopes to release in February, and is still unsure of how frequently it will be published. He is wary of setting a firm schedule given the uncertainty of the market right now.
And while many of the facts are just random right now, he is aiming to establish a pattern to that randomness, such as always having trivia on a destination such as Venice, an important monument such as the Eiffel Tower, and key events that occurred in a given year.
“My idea was to come up with something out of the ordinary and outside the box, something inventive and creative that is different than what all other magazines traditionally are. There is a huge risk with that, it could flop on its face but it could be so new and creative that people pick up on.”
Get Your Facts Straight sells for $7.50 an issue and to order a copy call (519) 669-9643, email email@example.com, or visit them online at www.getyourfactsstraight.ca.