Introducing The Magazine: a modern iOS Newsstand publication for geeks like us that’s loosely about technology, but also gives tech writers a venue to explore other topics that like-minded geeks might find interesting.
The Magazine’s introductory article explains it in detail, but here’s the short version: the same way Build and Analyze is for developers but not always about development, The Magazine is for geeks like us and will often, but not always, be about technology.
It publishes four articles every two weeks for $1.99 per month with a 7-day free trial. Get the app to start. It’s best on iPad.
I chose to do this for many reasons, and I’ll go into more detail over the coming weeks as I finally get some time to write it all out. But, again, here’s the short version:
- I want this publication to exist as a reader and a writer.
- Being a publisher of other authors’ work is an interesting challenge I’ve never tackled.
- I’m in a strong position to try this.
- It complements Instapaper nicely.
The writer angle, to me, is particularly interesting.
We’ve seen a lot of business-model experimentation in online publishing over the last decade, especially in the last few years. Even Readability’s now-abandoned payment system, while fatally flawed in practice, was an interesting idea.
But just as the App Store has given software developers a great new option for accepting direct payment, Newsstand has given publishers an even bigger opportunity with subscription billing and prominent placement. Yet most publishers aren’t experimenting with radical changes. They can’t — to fund their huge staffs and production costs, they can’t afford to deviate from yesterday’s model. And most individual writers can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t make their own Newsstand apps.
There’s room for another category between individuals and major publishers, and that’s where The Magazine sits. It’s a multi-author, truly modern digital magazine that can appeal to an audience bigger than a niche but smaller than the readership of The New York Times. This is what a modern magazine can be, not a 300 MB stack of static page images laid out manually by 100 people.
The Magazine supports writers in the most basic, conventional way that, in the modern web context, actually seems least conventional and riskiest: by paying them to write. Since I’m keeping production costs low, I’m able to pay writers reasonably today, and very competitively with high-end print magazines in the future if The Magazine gets enough subscribers.
It’s a risk, but I’m confident. Here goes.
BUG NOTE: Of course, it’s a 1.0 and there’s already a bug I didn’t catch in testing. If you have multiple devices (e.g. an iPad and an iPhone), the subscription will only validate on the first one you subscribe with. The fix should be approved soon. In the meantime, if you’re trying to choose between devices, I suggest reading The Magazine on iPad.