from whence they came


It all started so small, a simple two-colour newsletter with a grand total of four pages. Initially, this fledgling was dedicated to assisting foreigners find their bearings on behalf of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taichung. Under the stewardship of Editor Douglas Habecker, this publication grew steadily through the 1990's - culminating in a complete relaunch as an independent magazine in December of 1998.

A trend began to appear: many local Taiwanese residents began to pick up the publication - and frequently commented on the limited Chinese language content. Realising the opportunity to grow, publishers Douglas Habecker and Courtney Donovan Smith re-dedicated the publication to serve the entire Taichung community. Taiwanese writers joined the team, and the publication became fully bilingual in 2000. Today, more than 96% of the over 50,000 monthly readers of the Compass is Taiwanese - making the Compass truly Taichung's magazine.

Oddly, Taichung remained the only city in Taiwan with a true city guide. In response to repeated requests from residents of other cities, the Compass Group launched Taiwan Fun magazine for Taipei residents in December of 2000 and followed up with FYI South magazine for the cities of Kaohsiung and Tainan in September of 2002 - with the result that currently all the major metropolitan areas in Taiwan are now covered.

Through all of this, the website (launched in 2000) has grown to reach an audience of around 200,000 visits per month for a page view total of a whopping 2.5 million per month.

As this is being written, the group is taking a bold leap into the future with the launch of the ok-book versions of the city guides. This revolutionary new method of transferring documents is quickly generating much excitement!


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