Nothing like a good mag after a long hike…

Let print be print, and rejoice in its tactile nature

Magazines can thrive serving markets that are wary of screens, as long as they rejoice in their staus as physical objects

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

The New York Times, reporting on the corners of magazine publishing that are still thriving:

There are sprouts of life, even profitability, on the landscape of print media and magazines, cratered by the pixilated bombardment of the digital age. High-end niche periodicals are popping up, but the trend might be most evident in a burst of small-batch, independent outdoors magazines like Adventure Journal, Mountain Gazette, Summit Journal and Ori. They are crowding into quiet spaces of narrow lanes — climbing, surfing, skiing, running and the like — where quality is key, advertising is minimal and subscribers are faithful. Most do not put their content online; this is journalism meant to be thumbed through, not swiped past.

It makes perfect sense that outdoors-y people might prefer print magazines. While the outdoors adventure Instagram account is a well-worn cliché for a reason, people who spend time outdoors are actively choosing non-screen based activities. And so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they sometimes favour physical reading material as well. It’s the perfect intersection of passion, design, and form into a product that’s never going to a massive business, but will be a sustainable one.

But why did I mention “design” and “form”? Well, because the physical quality of these magazines, the delight they take in their sheer physicality, is part of the point. Debbee Pezman, The Surfer Journal’s publisher, explains it in the NYT piece:

She does not call it a magazine, but a journal, even a bimonthly book. She noted high-end flourishes, like an embossed title. She picked up an upcoming issue, printed on thicker paper — 18 percent thicker. Why do that?
“That’s a really good question, because it’s going to cost, like, $22,000 in postage,” Pezman said. But she sees other magazines entering the market, ratcheting up the standards that she helped set. “It’s just a dial-up of our quality, to differentiate,” she said.

We have our own versions in the UK. I thoroughly recommend Sidetracked, edited by Alex Roddie, who has a blog which is worth a (free) subscribe. He also wrote a book about trying to use adventure to disconnect from digital that’s well worth a read.

Sidetracked Magazine – devoted to adventure, expeditions and exploration
Sidetracked pushes boundaries to share meaningful stories from the world’s wildest places. A magazine devoted to adventure, expeditions and exploration.
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.