September 18, 2004 in Business

Publication to blaze new trail

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Jon Snyder wants people in Spokane to realize what a gem they have in outdoor recreation.

“Outdoor recreation is our best available tool for economic development, mostly because it’s right there,” said Snyder, the 35-year-old publisher of Out There Monthly, a new free publication devoted to the outdoors. “These trails are already here, the mountains are already here, the river is already here. You don’t have to lure it from some other state. It’s something other cities don’t have.”

The 24-page Out There Monthly debuted this month in Spokane and Cheney. Snyder said he’ll eventually distribute in North Idaho as well. Funded by two silent investors from Seattle and San Francisco, the monthly touts itself as Spokane’s guide to outdoor recreation, road trips and music. The inaugural issue features stories about creating a kayaking park on the Spokane River, a road trip to Hell’s Canyon and a review of energy bars, including Bumble Bar, which is manufactured in Spokane.

Snyder said his goal is to “get people to think of their city in a different way. I love this place and I want it to be the best place it can be.”

Snyder launched Out There with his sister, Kaitlin, after seeing a void in local media coverage of the outdoors. However, he said he’s not planning to compete with The Spokesman-Review’s coverage of fishing and hunting. But Snyder said he sees opportunity in the lack of regular coverage of other outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, kayaking, cycling and snowboarding. He sees his magazine as appealing to the “REI, Mountain Gear, Mountain Goat crowd,” naming three outdoor recreation stores in Spokane.

And appeal it did. Some 6,500 copies of the first edition were printed, but apparently, that wasn’t enough.

“They’re gone. They can’t keep it in stock,” Snyder said of the businesses carrying Out There. “That’s bad planning on my part. Next issue, we’re upping it by a couple of thousand.”

Snyder said he should reach his six-month circulation goal of printing 10,000 copies much earlier than expected. The publication is being printed by Griffin Publishing of Spokane and features about a dozen ads from local businesses. Snyder said he bought some equipment, including distribution racks, from the former Local Planet, which halted publication a couple of months ago. He said Out There Monthly is being distributed throughout downtown Spokane in food courts, restaurants, outdoor stores, and other businesses.

Snyder thinks Out There will succeed because he and his sister both have extensive experience in publishing. Snyder spent more than a decade working for magazines in San Francisco before returning to Spokane a few years ago.

Snyder writes stories, takes pictures and solicits advertising. His sister, a designer for a Web service company in Seattle, does the design. Their mother helps with distribution. And the first issue includes several stories written by Snyder’s “small army of dedicated contributing writers.”

Ted McGregor, publisher of the Pacific Northwest Inlander, welcomed Out There to the publishing world, saying more voices indicate better “community health.” He also praised the debut issue’s design which he said was done by “somebody that knows what they’re doing.”

But publishing is a tough business, McGregor said. The 11-year-old Inlander didn’t break even for 18 months, and revenues didn’t increase much for the following five years. Launching Out There as a monthly, rather than a weekly, was smart, McGregor said, as was trying not to duplicate existing publications.

“We think that spirit is how we started, so we can’t be critical of anybody else,” McGregor said. “We also know as a business, it takes a while to get going. It’s possible to succeed, but it doesn’t happen overnight.”

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