Publisher Hopes to Soar With ‘Afar’

NEW YORK It’s a daring — some might say crazy — time to launch a magazine, much less one devoted to travel. So far this year, the category’s ad pages have declined 33.7 percent, per the Mediaweek Monitor.

But entrepreneur-turned-publisher Greg Sullivan thinks that his forthcoming travel magazine Afar can carve out a niche by devoting itself to the experiential traveler. Sullivan, who is bankrolling Afar with $10 million of his own money, is pitching a non-formulaic approach to sight-seeing under the editorship of Susan West (Smithsonian, Health).

Indeed, an exclusive look at the first issue, which hits stands Aug. 18, reveals stories on cow fighting in Switzerland, treehouse lodging around the world and bunny chow (a South African — and rabbit-free — street food). The cover depicts a rocky Moroccan coastline.

“We wanted something unexpected but something that takes you in, instead of a traveler in a place,” West explained.

Readers who are inclined to enhance the print experience online will have to wait, though; Afar doesn’t plan to launch a Web site until 2010.

Sullivan, who has John Sheehy (another Health vet) as publisher, acknowledged it’s a tough time to start a new magazine, but is betting that the editorial position, low out-of-pocket cost to advertisers and high subscription cost ($19.95 for six issues) will help meet his goal of profitability in three years. Thirty-five advertisers got on board the first issue, including Max Mara, Sotheby’s and Emirates Air.

It’ll help that he’s not setting his sights sky-high; Afar is launching with a modest rate base of 50,000 and a plan of getting to 100,000 by 2010. “Everyone’s in shock and protective mode; there aren’t a lot of innovation and new ideas,” Sullivan said. “We’re a breath of fresh air.”

Nielsen Business Media