National Post readers across Atlantic Canada will now have to travel to Halifax if they want to buyan actualprint copy of the national newspaper.

Following an annual business review of the paper, Post management decided to limit sales to only one Atlantic Canadian market — the metropolitan area of Halifax —as of the end of July.

This latest move follows another decision, announced in late March, to limit Atlantic Canadian distributionof the Post to provincial capitals only.

At that time, the paper blamed the prohibitive costs of distributing the paper regionally after circulation numbers are factored in. Home delivery to the Atlantic region was also discontinued in 2006.

Similar reasons were cited this time, with the paper also blaming difficulty distributing the Toronto-produced and printed paper in a timely manner.

"As we took a look at our business model, looked at how and where we're distributed across the country — and frankly no newspaper has 100 per cent distribution across the country, it's just too big — we made some hard decisions," said Steven Hastings, National Postvice-president of marketing and reader sales.

"This was one of the decisions we took. The fact of the matter is that we think we continue to offer an incredibly robust product online. And it really is a reflection of how our business is changing," Hastings told CBC News.

Longtime Post reader Tony Sosnkowski, who said he's been a fan of the paper since its launch about nine years ago, calls the decision "a lack of respect for the Atlantic market.

"I think it's the wrong decision and it shows contempt," he said.

Sosnkowski added that a web version of his favourite daily is "not a substitute for a newspaper you can hold in your hands."

Some retailers are also bemoaning the decision.

"We had customers come every day, looking for this paper," said Shadir Sahely, a store owner in Charlottetown.

"It's a big loss for the Maritimes because we are something too. We belong to the rest of Canada and we deserve to have the paper, too."

Upon its much ballyhooed introduction in October 1998 by media mogul Conrad Black, the National Post offered a bold new, neo-conservative voice in Canada's national newspaper landscape, offering a different take on the news and current affairs as well as a jazzy, colourful look compared to venerable newspaper the Globe and Mail.

However, the Post soon began amassing large debts from the heavy spending incurred during its startup period. Black eventually sold the paper to fellow media magnate Izzy Asper and his CanWest Global Communications (in two stages over the course of 2000 and 2001).

In 2001, management of the still-young newspaper imposed severe budget cuts, laid off a significant percentage ofits staff and nixed several sections, with a plummet in circulation the ultimate result.

In the years since, the conservative paper has retooled its look, restored some suspended sections and even added new ones. However, it continues to fight to regain some of its initial success and compete with the Globe, as well as strong, local rivals like the Toronto Star.