Revealed:  CSA Profit Margins

January 29th, 2014

The average profit margin for Canadian publishers in 2011 was 11.1%.  The CSA’s margin is 528.82%.

Donald Lecraw, of the Economic Council of Canada, estimated that the CSA’s cost to produce an original standard was $17,275 in 1981.  Adjusted for inflation, the 2014 cost is $47,624.

An “original standard” is a completely new text.  Most of CSA’s standards are revisions of previously developed standards.  In example, re-shingling your house is much cheaper than replacing your house.  The revision cost of major standards like the Canadian Electrical Code is a small fraction of the original development cost.

RestoreCSA has elsewhere reported that the CSA is selling original standards for “$120,000 to $250,000” each.  After development costs of $47,624, the CSA enjoys a profit of $72,725 - $202,725 for each new law that they sell.  As the CSA bluntly put it, “the bottom line is revenue generation.”

The CSA’s profit margins on original standards therefore range between 253.83% and 528.82%.  That’s almost five thousand percent higher than StatsCanada’s average for publishers’ margins.

For comparison, consider the average Canadian profit margins for the market sectors below (using latest StatsCanada figures):

Retail Trade - 5.1%
Retail (non-chain stores) - 2.6%
Pharmacies - 3.8%
Food and Beverage - 4.5%
Industrial Machinery - 16%
Engineering Services - 12.5%
Book Publishers - 11.1%
Periodical Publishers - 7.1%

CSA - 253.83% - 528.82%

It’s worth noting that the CSA is presently suing P.S. Knight Co. Ltd., a half-century old publisher of electrical guidebooks, trying to push them out of business.  If CSA succeeds in eliminating their only electrical publishing competitor, the CSA will have a monopoly in the segment and can push their own prices sky-high.  They already have more than a quarter billion dollars in annual revenue.  How much pricier could it get?

It seems that CSA’s already astounding margins aren’t astounding enough for CSA.  Pushing the little people out of their way will indeed make the CSA even more profitable.  It seems to have slipped them that that much profit is a problem in a not-for-profit.