Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Road Scholars

It looks like we will be on the road this Fall. Andy has been invited to be a guest instructor with The Woodworking Shows, a traveling circuit of shows that is in a different U.S. city nearly every weekend between October and April. We will travel with him as a family for the first five shows, which are all in the American West and Southwest.

We are still wanting to do school together as a family, but things will look a little different this year, especially while we are on the road. A big part of our educational experience for the Fall is going to be the creation of a great newsletter, appropriately called "Road Scholars: School on the Road Less Traveled." It will cover history, geography, geology, art, literature, poetry, local food and culture, as well as our experiences and reviews of national and state parks, campgrounds, restaurants, events, etc., as we travel from our home in Montana to Dallas, Southern California, Portland, Sacramento, Denver and back home.

I will be the editor, ensuring top-notch quality and cracking the whip on deadlines. The kids are really excited about it, even though they know it will be a ton of work. They know my expectations tend to be very high, but they also know they will have a product they can be proud of; they will get to be a part of something really big, something great.

We will put out eight weekly issues of six to eight pages each in this first volume, starting two weeks before we leave to document the planning, research and preparations that are necessary for traveling non-stop for weeks on end. We have already created a list of regular columns, as well as ideas for feature stories. It's going to be so much fun, and like it or not, they are going to learn to write well.

We have some important decisions to make, however, before we can launch this puppy.

1. Paper or digital?

An e-mail newsletter is cheap to produce, since their is no charge for postage. It is also fast, with no waiting for the mail to travel across the miles. However, an email newsletter can't be held in your hands and carried around, or left on the table for others to read. A paper newsletter will be picked up again and again and doesn't require waiting for a turn on the computer and then staring at a screen in order to enjoy it. Which format would you prefer, dear reader?

2. Subscription or free?

If we go with a digital format, there is no cost involved, other than our time. If we opt for paper, however, the printing and postage will cost between sixty and eighty cents per copy. If we printed and mailed 100 copies each of eight issues, that comes to almost seven hundred dollars. We can't pay for this, so we have a few options. We could sell advertising. But who wants to advertise in a travel newsletter that has a widely scattered national audience? It isn't a good venue to promote a local business to local readers. We could charge a subscription fee, but would people be willing to pay six to seven dollars for eight issues of a family magazine--even if it was a really good one? We could set up a PayPal shopping cart to make it easy, but would people actually do it? Another option is that we could try applying for a small educational grant. I could look into that and see what is available that is workable within our limited time frame. What do you think?

I'm anxious to hear your thoughts and ideas...


Anonymous said...

Make it digital. If someone wants to print off a hard copy because that is their preferred format, they can. No cost to you, and very little cost to the user (unless you pack it with large color pictures on every page). A few pictures would be nice so we can share at least a little bit more of the experience.

That's my 2 cents
Dad (or Grandpa)

CML_Shearings said...

I fully agree with Larry. Looking forward to sharing this adventure with you vicariously... Cary

alison said...

If it's digital I won't lose it.

Sheila said...

Wow! What a great adventure for your family and a really cool thing for Andy! (tell him congrats from me) I also say Digital. But do print it out when you get home and save a hard copy for the kids!

REally, so excited for you :)

Sheila said...

(btw, LOVE the name)

strider1971 said...

digital is best and for sure the most fun