The Magazine, sub-compact publishing, and going digitally native

If Apple had created an iNewsstand store, like the iBookstore, App Store, and iTunes Store, we'd likely have gotten a more consistent, more controlled experience, rather than the mixed bag of hurt that are PNG-prints of traditional magazines by traditional entities, unwilling and unable to embrace digitally native formats. But we might not have gotten some of the truly creative, truly inspired apps that have come to Newsstand. Craig Mod takes a look at the quiet revolution that's going on in digitally native publishing right now.

Our current tools are a bit kludgey, a bit clunky, a bit too tied to the past. The Magazine is a great first example of a subcompact publication, utilizing Newsstand — an existing under-leveraged tool — to indigenously and ingenuously deliver content.

I’d be shocked if there weren’t a dozen other publishers prepping to launch similar magazines. Or, even better: someone building a system by which anyone could launch a Newsstand app like The Magazine — for minimal cost with minimal complexity.

Mod argues that when you strip everything away, when you get down to only the most essential of parts, everything from the sub-compact car that revolutionized the auto industry, to the sub-compact publication which may well revolutionize the periodical industry, becomes possible for those brave and bold enough to see seize it.

That it took a developer like Marco Arment to make The Magazine, with the perfect confluence of development skills, reading app experience (Instapaper), and connections to authors who could feed his first few issues, shouldn't be underestimated. I like that The Magazine was hard. If it hadn't been, it might not have been good.

I also like that traditional publishers like The New York Times are breaking with legacy media preconceptions to do something authentic with their Newsstand app.

If I had my druthers, there'd still be an iNewsstand store proper, where Apple controls the experience, and users enjoy the consistency of the rest of iTunes. But there'd also be Newsstand-style functionality -- background downloads, easy subscription processing and management -- would be available to all apps, unconstrained by the conventions of the periodical format.

Then the potential for both digital magazines, and things well beyond magazines, would really be unlocked.

Now go read Mod's entire essay, it's a fascinating look at a medium truly in need of disruption.

Source: Craig Mod