Monday, June 23, 2008

Good Old Boat Turns 10

Here' a nice story:

Who'd have thought that a niche sailing magazine begun by a couple of sailors with no publishing experience would still be standing firm and growing stronger 10 years after the first issue was printed? Like any parents of a new infant, the founders of Good Old Boat were certainly unable to contemplate what might become of their new publication a decade after its launch.

"But here we are," says founding editor Karen Larson, "celebrating the 10th birthday of our magazine with our July 2008 issue. It's been many years since we last pinched ourselves to make sure that we weren't dreaming . . . we've grown comfortable with the lifestyle we've created for ourselves and the cyclical nature of the publishing business."

Larson and her husband, Jerry Powlas, founded the magazine in fall 1997, printed the first issue of 5,000 copies in June 1998, and hopped on a production treadmill that has yet to slow down. "At one point," Larson says, "as we struggled to add staff and keep up with the growth, particularly since we were doing our own subscription fulfillment, Jerry commented that we had 'a tiger by the tail.' Nothing could be more true. We'd taken on a commitment to readers in terms of future issues paid for and promised. That tiger we were swinging was growing and there was no putting it down. There was no going back."

Powlas reports that they thought they'd begun a nice little mom-and-pop venture, something they could do at home when not sailing. "This is no longer a mom-and-pop organization, " he notes. "We added staff within the first couple of years. Now we have at least a dozen people working for us either full- or part-time. Karen and I still work at home, something which we like very much, and the others work in their own homes, telecommuting in a variety of ways. We call it a virtual office."

As far as he is concerned, the major question is whether the couple continues to find time for sailing. "We have never missed out on our sailing times," he says. "We heard of sailing magazine publishers who didn't get their boats wet for several years. I would never allow that to happen. What would be the point of publishing a sailing magazine if you couldn't stay involved in the pastime you share with your readers?"

"Sailors are a passionate group, who make putting this enthusiast publication together worthwhile," Larson says. "We'll keep swinging this tiger and sailing our boat as long as it's still fun."

Karen Larson, Editor, Good Old Boat Magazine;
701-952-9433; 701-952-9434 (fx)
7340 Niagara Lane North, Maple Grove, MN 55311-2655

Good Old Boat: Sailboats and the sailors who love them

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At 5:04 AM, Anonymous Ted Jones said...

Publishing a boating magazine is a risky business. First you take money from subscribers and primise to send them magazines in the future. Your mailing list is not an asset, as it is for most ventures, it is a liability. Then you have to produce an interesting editorial package, and get it printed and mailed. Hopefully, your subscription fees pay the high cost of printing and mailing. Only after the issue is mailed can you bill your advertisers then wait a month for their payments. Meanwhile, you have overhead to pay for. Anyone who can survive this cycle for 10 years is doing it right.
Congratulations Karen and Jerry and may you keep publishing Good Old Boat and not lose sight of why you are doing it.


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