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Corduroy Lines-The making of an online Surf Magazine

Simon Mitchell puts together a Longboard e-zine with Adobe InDesign By John Virata

When the Macintosh computer and the LaserJet printer were introduced in 1984, the print publishing world was turned on its head. A simple computer with a desktop publishing application enabled virtually anyone who could afford the setup the capability to be a publisher. These tools, along with Aldus PageMaker started the desktop publishing revolution. Fast forward to today and the Internet is arguably the biggest publishing clearinghouse in the world. People can be instant publishers thanks to sites such as Blogger.com or Wordpress. While in the 1990s there were many magazines covering the computer industry, today there are fewer, largely due to the commoditization of the personal computer, and the advent of the World Wide Web.

The traditional print magazine publishers have had to grapple with the Internet, and the wealth of competing information that is just a click away. While print isn't dead, certain segments of the market have realigned to address the Web, while others have embraced a digital delivery of information.

Flash video links are on several pages.

Simon Mitchell, editor and publisher, of Corduroy Lines, an online longboard surfing magazine with a print feel (complete with sound effects of turning pages), has worked up a formula to create and publish a high quality digital magazine that covers the sport of longboard surfing in the United Kingdom. Mitchell publishes his issues using Apple Macintosh computers and Adobe InDesign. Corduroy Lines has garnered a nice following here in the United States as well as in the UK and everywhere there are waves to be ridden. In this interview, Simon discusses how he generates and outputs the content for Corduroy Lines. 
DMN: Corduroy Lines is well done, very professional. What spurred the idea to create a digital longboard surfing magazine? Do you have experience with traditional print publications? Is Corduroy Lines available in print?

Simon Mitchell: The idea behind the magazine was based on there being no longboard magazine in the UK. I was frustrated by this gap in the market. I had been supplying articles for other magazines (kite-based) so wondered how hard it could be. At the same time as having these thoughts I saw an electronic magazine for the first time - I think it was 600mm.com. This led me to start looking at doing something similar. Unfortunately Corduroy Lines isn't available in print format. It is something that we are considering but I like the potential audience that I can reach with the Internet.


DMN: How many issues have you finished since starting on this venture?
SM: So far we have published seven issues. Issue 1 I designed and did all the layout for. I realized that I was doing way too much and quality was suffering. So Corduroy Lines used Jeremy Jones for the next four issue to do the design. From Issue 5 onward Rebecca Pepperell has been the main designer of the magazine whilst I have sourced all the content and taken lots of photos.

DMN: What kind of production system do you work with? What software are you using to put the magazine together? SM: We are using a broad range to get to the end product. Both myself and Rebecca are using Apple Mac's. The main software I am using for the photos are Photoshop & Bridge, for Rebecca it's InDesign, Illustrator & Flash. This is then supported by Entourage for email, SKYPE & MSN Messenger for communication and Internet Browsers to check it all out. We both also make use of Word & Excel for the text and business side of the magazine. It starts out with me chasing and gathering the content, Rebecca coming up with the layout and sorting out the flash elements and finishes with placing it into the Magazine script and publishing and trying to let as broad a range of people know as possible!

DMN: What do you like about that software? Do you work off a template like traditional print publications?
SM: The software allows you to get the job done. It's not easy and is often relative to the amount of work that you put in. We do use a template but it is one that Rebecca has developed and tweaked. I think with our current edition we are very happy with the direction of where the magazine is going.

DMN:  Once you have the magazine laid out, how is the editing process? Is your production process not unlike that of a print publication, sans the bluelines?
SM:  The editing is very much like a print publication. What we are aiming to do is offer a magazine that is very clean to look at but has the feel that is Corduroy Lines.

DMN:  What is your audience reach in the UK? How many longboarders are there in the UK?
SM: Our audience potential is huge, and it is by no means limited to the UK. There are thousands of longboarders in the UK or there seems to be locally!

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DMN:  With a digital version, you are able to reach a wider audience. Can you give an example of your readership in terms of countries where your digital magazine is read?
SM: Yes we do reach a much wider audience. It seems that our audience tends to be based around the countries that have surf available. Currently our biggest audience is the US followed by the UK and other European countries.

DMN:  Many of the photographs in the magazine are shot by you. What camera do you use for the water shots? And the land shots? What do you like about that camera?

SM: For water shots I'm using a Canon 30D in a SPL housing. It's a great bit of kit. It's taken a while to get used to swimming with what feels like a brick. But the images you can get in the water make all the effort worthwhile. On land I'm currently using a Canon 1D Mk2, a stunning camera. The focusing is so reliable as is the control you have over the camera.

DMN: How do you like the aspect of linking to Flash video in your magazine?
SM: It's something that we are happy to do but it is also something that we want to improve. Embedding the video properly within the magazine, making it truly a major part within each edition.

DMN: As the technology marches on, what would you like to see next for Corduroy Lines?
SM: We're looking to personalize the magazine script - so that it has a Corduroy feel to it and fits better with our identity. We're working very hard to increase visitor numbers. That's not something that is easy but something that is very important. We're also looking at the caching system so that the next pages are ready behind the one you are reading. What's most important is to continue to find high quality content for each edition.

To check out Corduroy Lines, visit www.corduroylines.com


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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at [email protected]
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