Posts Tagged ‘Sailing World’

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Sailing World (www.sailingworld.com)

Issue reviewed: October 2010

  • Published in Middletown, R.I., by Bonnier Corp.
  • Circulation: 40,000

Audience

  • experienced sailors, with about 25 years under their belt
  • average HHI: $282,000
  • own 3.2 boats, on average
  • 93% male
  • average age: 54

Overall Editorial

Sailing World is an easy read, and although it’s geared toward super-experienced, rich sailors, it doesn’t feel inaccessible to readers well outside its audience, like me. It has multiple short reads with a few long features. It’s a blend of product reviews, how-tos, competition coverage and human interest.

Overall Design

The design of Sailing World is very simple with a few standout elements. The end-of-story dingbats are really cool (two small sails in black and gray), and one little arrow in a burgundy circle keeps showing up that adds consistency throughout. Also, a box with a plus sign appears in several places from front to back offering bonus content to the reader, either on the Sailing World website or in books for further reading. The best design is in the department From The Experts: Technique with a step-by-step how-to that’s very appealing. The worst is on the opener of the feature On Full Boil, where the title gets lost in the extremely busy photo.

Cover Design and Blurbs

The cover is attractive and appealing, but it appears to be very feminine for a magazine that has an audience that’s only 7% women. And I don’t say that because it’s a woman on the cover but because the fonts and color choices seem very delicate. The reader only has three choices for content that interests him or her: one spot about Gold Diggers (Olympic sailors), one about the pro circuit and another about new boats.

Editor’s Note

The Editor’s Letter, Calling In Sick, written by Dave Reed, is lovely. It appeals to avid sailors, working people and procrastinators alike. Reed explains his inspiration for the first Sailing World Sick Day, in which all the employees take off and go sailing. I love that he presented the argument against it, which was submitted by a reader who was angry about the social irresponsibility of the free day. Then he told what a great time he had and how he’d checked back into the office later, with salt and water remnants still on him. It adds personality to the magazine, just like an editor’s note should, and it shows that the staff members love the sport the same way the readers do.

Departments and Columns

It’s clever that the editors break one department, From The Experts, into three sections: Technique, Strategy and Rules. Readers of recreational magazines like this love how-tos, and I think that division is a smart way to include several different types of how-to information. The back department is called Dr. Crash, and it’s strange, but it’s likely that it’s right up the readers’ alley. It’s one short question with one short answer and a humorous slant. Dr. Crash has become quite the personality, apparently, because the powers that be have created the Dr. Crash calendar that readers can order for only $13.95.

Features

The three features benefit from strong writing: excellent use of storytelling, expressive verbs and vivid detail. The writers for Sailing World obviously understand the sport and its players, and are skilled authors to boot.

Use of Photography

The photography throughout is very good, and the designers take care to use the photos large when warranted. There are only a couple of missteps: The photo spread opener on pages 30-31 for On Full Boil is so busy that I can’t even tell what’s going on. This particular photo would have benefitted from no words (headline or body copy) interfering because they complicate the photo. And the other misstep probably annoyed the editors and designers alike: On page 51, the Sailing World staff has to depend on manufacturers to submit quality photos of their products, and one group (The Landing School) didn’t send a photo that measured up. Such is life, but it sticks out like a sore thumb. But all the other photos are beautiful and make me want to head to the ocean.

Use of Illustrations

The folks at Sailing World use illustrations sparingly but well. One is a how-to illustration that’s computer generated, and the other is a a hand-drawn illustration that helps bring the reader into the story. Both are strong and well-placed.

Relevance to Intended Audience

This magazine hits avid sailors from multiple angles: competition, gear, how-to and narrative. If I owned 3.2 boats and made $282,000 per year, I imagine I would really enjoy this magazine. Even as a non-sailor, I enjoyed reading it from beginning to end.

Integration with Website

The right-hand folio on each spread lists the Sailing World web address, related content on the website gets a full spread in the magazine, and multiple mentions of bonus material on the website appear throughout. These guys do a good job of driving readers to the website. A lot of the online content is behind a subscriber wall. The website is sparse and clean, like the magazine is. The site has multiple blogs, forums, photos and videos for its visitors.

Flow, Story Hierarchy

Sailing World is well-organized front to back. It begins with the smaller pieces, including reader letters, Q&A and competition rankings. It moves into features, all clumped together toward the center. Then all the products are grouped together, followed by how-to articles. It feels pretty easy to get around.

Paper Quality

This magazine is pretty small, only 72 pages plus covers (saddle-stitch) for such a rich audience. It seems like it should be much thicker; maybe most of its issues are bulkier than this one. It definitely doesn’t seem like this would be an audience advertisers would shy away from because of the readers’ affluence.

Overall Opinion

Sailing World was a nice surprise. I’d never looked at one before, so it was all new to me. The tone was very good, set by the editor’s note in the very beginning. The design was appealing, and the multiple opportunities for bonus content give the reader much more than just what’s between the covers. For these reasons, I give Sailing World an A.

I invite your comments! Check out the magazine or its website and tell me what you think of it.

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

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The Sidebar Review is in its infancy, and just like a little baby who can’t survive without its mother’s care, this little blog has the potential to wither away if I don’t make the time to update it.

But I won’t let it die.

Here’s why: The Sidebar Review wasn’t created because the world needs more blogs. Or more opinions. Or because magazine editors need some random person criticizing their work. The Sidebar Review was created because I wanted to learn what other magazines do. I’ve been working in publishing for 11 years, but for the same company the whole time. I’m curious what makes other magazines tick. And I realize there’s a ton of magazines I’ve never even looked in before because I’m not a part of their target audience.

That is ending. I’m rapidly picking up magazines I’ve never opened. Coming up for review are Fortune, Forbes, Playboy, Golf World, Baltimore Magazine, and Sailing World. And a new friend of mine that I met through blogging, FlyingGma, sent me several copies of her favorite magazine, Flight Training, to review. How cool is that?

Already I’ve learned different treatments of sidebars, editor’s notes, photography, illustrations, storytelling and cover blurbs. Some magazines’ web integration is incredible — others have lackluster websites. It makes me more conscious of what I do on my own magazine at work. It makes me more aware of what’s going on in the publishing world.

So I’m going to keep my “baby” nourished and healthy. I’ll teach her diversity. I’ll try to keep her clean and happy.

And I’ll hope she finds a few friends who don’t mind stopping by to visit.