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Publishing PDF Magazine

Publishing PDF Magazine This is a comment that I received last month suggesting that I publish a PDF magazine rather that dumping thousands of dollars into a print publication: “. . . these guys produced a PDF magazine. I downloaded it and printed it myself on an office printer. It looks like a proper magazine [...]

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Publishing PDF Magazine

This is a comment that I received last month suggesting that I publish a PDF magazine rather that dumping thousands of dollars into a print publication:

“. . . these guys produced a PDF magazine. I downloaded it and printed it myself on an office printer. It looks like a proper magazine except it’s not bound.(http://productivemagazine.com/ Obviously I don’t know your vision for a magazine. Perhaps you can publish a PDF mag with or without advertising and charge a much smaller subsription fee than a print mag. Emails the PDF mag to your paying subscribers. And your costs would be almost nothing.”

I am standing on the cusps of graduating from university and ending one of my best grafts for traveling the world. I now need to come up with a new way to supplement my bean money; I need to come up with new ways to make my travel funds.

For years I have had a blanket while traveling, for I knew that if I were to run out of money I could always enroll back in the Friends World Program and study in some part of the world while living off of scholarships and financial aid. This tactic has bridged me through the tough times, but this river has thoroughly been crossed. I now need to build a new bridge, I need a new way to make money.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Brooklyn, New York City- December 6, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos

This Vagabond Journey.com site was meant to be the mortar in the support of this new bridge – this site was meant to be the medium by which I will continue getting from point A to B. I know that it is working, but I am not there yet. I still cannot make a living solely off of publishing Vagabond Journey.com. For the past few months I have seen a rise in income, making around $500 a month. This is good, but a new advertisement policy has ensured that the advertising value of the site has plummeted. I now stand to only make $100 a month off of Vagabond Journey. This is still good, but it is not enough. I need to up my ability to acquire my bean money; I need a complementary strategy. So here it is:

Beginning in spring, I may attempt to begin publishing a downloadable, easily printable pdf magazine. The aim of this magazine will be to publish the unpublishable, to send the story deeper, and to come up with a very real and entertaining experience of planet earth. There will be absolutely no moral overhead and no overbearing intentional agenda, just an all out free for all of travel literature and journalism. I want points of view that are banishable, crude, and wrong while at the same time publishing pieces about the beauty of the world and the open road.

I want to publish secrets. I want to put stories of prostitutes next to digressions on religion. I want the world as it is, not a fairytale.

I was reading an orthodox Jewish newspaper the other day while in Maine. The journalism was severely bent sideways, there was a definite agenda behind the publication: an impartial, removed, and unbiased perspective was completely throw to the wolves. There was no attempt at journalistic integrity. And I liked it. I liked every word of it. It was entertaining while being informative. It informed me that there were people in the world who thought very differently than myself, people who were raised hearing different stories, having different experiences, and acquiring different information than me. There was also a certain honesty that pervaded the paper, which was not an honesty of fact but an honesty of feeling.

I believe in a 100% straight forward vision of truth. But I also know that there are six billion different and equal visions of this truth on the planet. I want to have my world view confronted, that is one of the reasons why I travel. This is a large part of the journey.

My old Japan comrade Steve-O just left me the following comment on a previous travelogue entry, and I feel that it sums up my intentions with this magazine idea:

“one of the things I get a kick out of from you is your ability to mess up the harmony, people need to be freed from their reality tunnels.”

I do not know if this magazine will do this, I do not really want to try to do anything with it, other than publish stories that I think are interesting. I honestly do not know if this idea will even get beyond this travelogue entry.

But if it does I would like to publish bi-monthly and have each issue be around 30 to 40 pages. Hopefully, I will be able to wretch out $5 to $10 for a yearly subscription, which will basically be a donation. If I can get 100 subscribers then I will consider this venture a success. If only a handful of people ever enjoy it – if I enjoy it – then I will smile, for projects do not need to obtain great heights of success to be successful.

I am unsure if anyone will ever pay $5 to $10 a year for a PDF publication, but there are advantages to this medium. First off, it is digital, you do not have to carry it around with you. Secondly, it can be printed out from anywhere in the world and given away – thrown away – at leisure, as it can just be printed again from somewhere else. It can also be passed around from traveler to traveler as they make their ways across the planet.

Due to its cheap cost of publication I will also have the ability to publish it. I do not have $7,000 to invest in anything, and having a cheap overhead means that I will not have to cater to the influence of advertisers. The influence of advertisers on media content is enormous, and I do not want to have anything to do with it (even at this microscopically small level). By having very little overhead costs on this venture means that there is also no one to appease, anything can be published. Also, because it does not cost any more to publish additional pages, there does not need to be any artificial caps on article length – the entire story can be told. A cheap publication cost also means that I can sell it for almost nothing: $5-10 a year to read something that may potentially be interesting.

I know nothing about the technical side of this venture, but, the value of knowing nothing is that I stand to learn a lot. I also do not know how well I can work this out in reality. The editing side I am confident about. I just recently edited and helped put together a print magazine with a 10,000 copy circulation. But I know zip about graphic design, and I think that I would be poor at it. Though this will just make this an all around challenge.

Any advice?

Related Pages:
NYC- Ethnography Journalism and Travel Writing
Maine, USA- Rites of Travel Website Construction
Honduras-Writing for Magazines and Newspapers
NYC- How to Publish a Magazine
Desktop Publishing
Self Publish Magazine

Links to previous travelogue entries:
News Media and Travel
Office Pranks
Rites of Passage in Richmond Virginia

Publishing PDF Magazine


Filed under: Journalism

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

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