Ink On Paper: Popular Website ‘Adventure Journal’ Bets On Print

Adventure Journal, one of our favorite websites covering the outdoors, is about to go analog and launch a print edition.

aj-print-edition

Adventure Journal is an online publication based in California and founded by veteran writer and journalist Steve Casimiro. It covers the outdoors with essays, humor, polls, and reviews on new gear.

This spring, Adventure Journal will launch a 124-page quarterly publication. With just 12 pages of advertising per issue, the publication will be loaded with “evergreen” stories, leading to a long shelf-life and a magazine that will perfectly adorn a coffee table all year long.

The print edition will be filled with entirely new stories. Nothing in the magazine will have been online, nor will it be featured online in the future, Casimiro said.

The first issue will ship in April with single copies for $15. A yearly subscription is $60. We got in contact with founder Casimiro to dig in on the all-analog venture.


GearJunkie: Why did you decide to launch Adventure Journal in print?

Steve Casimiro: Because I want to make something special. I want to make something that hasn’t really existed — an outdoor magazine that’s smart and informative and engaging, that connects writers and readers, photographers and artists, to explore the world of adventure without being pulled down by commercial constraints. And to do it in a form that feels wonderful, smells great, and is tangible and enduring.

Adventure Journal Quarterly 2

The fact is, many stories can’t pay for themselves online, no matter how many readers you get. And readers don’t treat them the same way. The first issue of AJ has a wonderful story by Michael Engelhard of being attacked by a grizzly while packrafting on the North Slope of Alaska. Online, you could write a clickbait headline and people would flock to read about a bear attack and then they’d thumb to check their email and forget all about it.

But this piece isn’t about a bear attack, really, it’s about a relationship between a man and a bear and thus about a relationship between a man and nature and hence the world. There are rhythms to Michael’s words, wisdoms in his thoughts, that deserve more than being read on a smartphone. Read it in print and you’ll never forget it. Read it online and…hey, what’s happening on Instagram?

No knock on the internet. Without it, there would be no AJ. But some stories are too deep, too nuanced, too immersive to the imagination. Having both the website and print lets AJ’s pieces go where they’re most appropriate.

Finally, all of us need a break from devices. Holding paper in your hands, especially the wonderful, heavy paper we’re using, is a luxurious, even selfish experience. It’s a delight made even more delightful for how much time we spend holding screens.

Steve Casimiro
Steve Casimiro

What challenges do you face in launching a print publication?

Um, that you can’t go back and fix a typo after you’ve published? (GJ: Amen!)

Financial and distribution are the two biggest challenges. Paper costs money. Shipping costs money. How do you pay for these things, especially with a launch? How do you pay for them when you’re an average guy with average means, not some ginormous publishing house? And then how do you get the magazine into people’s hands?

Fortunately, AJ already has a strong, loyal, awesome readership. As someone put it on our Facebook page, “AJ has given me far more than $60 worth of stuff already. Sign me up.” I didn’t know quite what to expect since we’re launching a product that won’t be out for a few months, but the response has been incredible. People are subscribing way faster than I expected. I think they have faith in the concept, they have a relationship with me and the other regulars, and they’re hungry for a magazine committed to great stories about interesting people and wild adventures.

With so many magazines folding over recent years, what niche will AJ fill that others had ignored?

That’s a good question, and a reasonable one, but I actually don’t think of it in terms of niche — it’s much more about attitude and spirit. AJQ is designed for people who live adventurous lives, who are curious about the world, who are smart and confident and self motivated and who want an outdoor magazine that celebrates their strengths and doesn’t prey on their insecurities. Male/female, young/old…it doesn’t really matter. Adventure Journal is dedicated to exploring what it means to be a human experiencing a rich life outdoors; in practice, that can mean deep reporting, a clever flow chart, a Weekend Cabin, or a Historical Badass. At the heart of AJ, we’re just sharing the adventure experience and having faith that the right people will find and support it. AJ already fills that space online, the quarterly will just extend it to print.

ajq-magazine

As for what separates it from existing or now-dead titles? A dedication to putting great stories first and not worrying about massive consumer appeal. Not selling on the newsstand, so you can focus on making your core audience happy. A select group of advertisers who support high-quality writing. A contributors list filled with some of the best outdoor writers and photographers in the world (seriously, I’m in awe). It all adds up to a high-quality experience that connects great stories to curious readers across the broad sweep of the outdoors.

What should readers expect between the covers of the new AJ print pub?

Longer, more thoughtful versions of the same kinds of stories you see on Adventure Journal now. Things that matter. Honest adventure. Pieces that touch the heart and stoke the imagination. More nuance. Deeper exploration.

You know, the nature of AJQ stories, or how they’re different from online, doesn’t really distill to a soundbite. Okay, kinda: deeper, longer, smarter. But really, the key difference is not having to worry about clicks or traffic or social likes or appeasing advertisers who expect something in return or plastering a cover with desperate blurbs calling out from an overcrowded newsstand. What if you could just tell great stories? What if you could declare your allegiance to finding the truth of the tale? Isn’t that where great literature comes from? Or great journalism? I’m dedicating AJ Quarterly to being a place where we can explore and share the best of what it means to live with adventure in our lives — and so far, both the readers and the contributors seem pretty fired up by it. Where that takes us exactly, like all good adventures, is hard to say.

Subscriptions Available Now

We at GearJunkie look forward to the new magazine and foresee a great publication. Learn more and subscribe at Adventure-Journal.com.

–On a related note, GearPatrol has also launched a paper magazine — a 280-pager loaded with gear guides and photos available for $20 — this November.

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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