The Surfer's Journal Turns 25
The Surfer’s Journal, the premium, purist surf publication based in San Clemente, California, is celebrating its 25th year of publication, making it a rare and remarkable publishing success story.
“From the beginning, we’ve reverse-engineered things,” says Debbee Pezman who, along with her husband, Steve, left Surfer Magazine in 1991 to found what’s become known as simply: “The Journal.” “We looked at what we wanted the reader’s experience to be—both tactilely as well as emotionally—then figured out how to deliver that, without even considering what it would cost.”
What started as an unproven publishing concept has evolved into a truly unique, venerated, and commercially successful product. Not only was the idea of having readers subscribe to a pre-sold quarterly book novel, but having only six advertisers was seemingly unsustainable at a time when the goal of most publications was to increase the number of advertising pages, not curb them. Yet now, a quarter century later, The Surfer’s Journal remains commercially quiet, still having only six “sponsors,” many of which have never missed an issue.
Equally as remarkable is that in the age of speed and digital confectionary, The Surfer’s Journal has found and continues to grow a dedicated and passionate readership who see the value in the tactile, print experience the magazine offers. This is due in large part to the exceptional in-depth, longform storytelling and superb photography that fills each issue.
The high-end construction and the expansive editorial well attracts the best photographers, writers, artists, and athletes in the space and makes each issue as much a collector’s item as it is a bimonthly magazine.
“We are honored that our readers continue to feel that we’re worth spending their money on—that The Journal is worth holding in their hands,” says Steve Pezman, who was the editor and then publisher of Surfer Magazine for 20 years before founding The Surfer’s Journal.
“Twenty-five years feels as much like a challenge as it does a time for reflection,” adds Scott Hulet, who has edited the publication for the past 17 years. “It’s like reaching the midpoint in a trans-Pacific crossing. Now we get to leverage all we've learned and achieved, high-speed trimming—to use surfing parlance—into new, unchartered water. There are vivid and surprising stories yet to be told, and heirloom-quality print remains the finest place to tell them.”