The Magazine is a new endeavor by Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper and host of Build & Analyze, with no greater or lesser goal than to do an iOS Newsstand periodical the way it was meant to be done. In a market all too littered by massive, unwieldy Adobe InDesign exports, shackled to old-world sales and marketing models, The Magazine's premise comes off as audacious -- 4 articles every two weeks, written by passionate technologists for passionate technologists. Here's how Arment describes it in his forward/declaration of intent:
Arment is also taking a page, almost literally, from Instapaper's playbook. Eschewing the static PNG files and anachronistic layouts of traditional magazines, he's simply, beautifully, cleanly, presenting The Magazine's content in as enjoyably readable a format a possible. Controls are likewise minimal. From the table of contents you can switch between dark and light mode, increase or decrease the type size, or swipe to delete content (a small trashcan will appear in the colored issue number/data bar to confirm).
From an individual article's page, you can share content via Mail, Message, Twitter, or Facebook, or send a copy to the clipboard or to Instapaper. Links are easy to see and if you tap on one, the article lifts up to show you a preview of the linked content. If you tap a link in the preview, you're carousel'ed out of The Magazine and the web page is served up in Safari.
The reading controls, however, are only available on the table of contents screen, so you can't change type size or toggle dark/light modes while inside an article, which also means you can't preview type-size changes without flipping back and forth. The share sheet is available on the article pages, but it's anchored to the top, so if you only decide you want to share an article by the time you finish reading it, you have to scroll all the way back to the top. Some sort of persistent controls (the way the issue number and date persist on the table of content), or even a set reveal-on-touch controls, would feel better.
Scrolling in articles is fast and fluid, and both button and gesture-based navigation options are available. From the table of contents screen, tap a article to go to that article, and tap the contents button to go back to the table of contents. You can also swipe to push the table of contents aside and reveal an article beneath it (the first article if you haven't begun reading yet, otherwise the last article you were reading). You can also swipe to pull the table of contents back into place so you can choose another article. Unfortunately, you can't swipe the other way to navigate to the next article. That's something I keep instinctively wanting to do, so hopefully it gets added in a future release.
In addition to Arment's forward, the first issue of The Magazine includes essays by Guy English, Jason Snell, Alex Payne, and Michael Lopp. English takes a look at the [Daring] Fireball Format of link blogs and their rise in popularity, Snell tackles the schism between geeks who do and don't love sports, Alex Payne laments on the people behind technology and how sometimes we get it wrong, and Lopp explores leadership and the dynamics between stability and volatility.
Most magazines aren't really in the content business. They're in the advertising and marketing business, selling our attention and our mailing addresses, with the content serving as a kiss and a cookie to keep us happily flipping page and subscribed. That's not always bad, and some really terrific magazines have been funded using that model. But The Magazine looks to be in the actual content business -- you read what you pay for.
With The Magazine, Arment has stripped the traditional format, model, and expectations of the magazine down to its essence, to the barest possible elements it needs to exist as a magazine -- a determined publisher, talented writers, and solid content -- and is hoping that in doing so, it flourishes.
I hope so as well. I hope it gives voice and exposure to a wide array of technologists who take the opportunity to raise the bar and the stakes of technology writing. And I hope it provides an oasis to readers hungry for just that. That may sound like a lot of pressure to put on a new type of publication on the day of its very first issue, but it seems like not an ounce less than Arment himself is placing upon it. And that's a stupendous thing.
The first issue of The Magazine, with free 7-day trial, is available now. Subscriptions cost $1.99 a month (which should include 2 issues given the current publishing schedule). Give it a read.
Free to try - Download now (opens in new tab)
Note: There's currently a bug that prevents you from subscribing on multiple iOS devices. According to Arment, a fix is on its way.
Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
FYI: if searching in the App Store, you must either search for "The Magazine: for geeks" or search for "Marco Arment". Otherwise you will never find it. Searching for "The Magazine" or even "The Magazine:", it doesn't show up...at least not in the first 24 items. Such things as the Kindle app, Nook app, Good Housekeeping, and others do...but not this app.
A bit off topic, but I can never find anything in Apple's magazine store. You press the button to go there and it presents you with all the popular crap, but if you then try to search, you get the entire app store. I searched for "The Magazine" and the first hit was a pumpkin carving app, followed by two or three games. This is a huge discovery problem for magazines. As for this magazine, it's incredibly overpriced so I will never discover it's content as I'm never going to pay 2 bucks a month for it. Nor will most people I suspect. The only possible reason for the outrageous price is that they already know their audience is going to be very small (almost exclusively rich tech bloggers, researchers, and industry insiders who can "comp" things like this).
I can't believe "overpriced" is the first thing that pops into your mind after reading about this. How many times a month do you swing by a coffee shop, or a juice bar, or a bakery, and get an overpriced and possibly unhealthy 2-dollar calorie bomb you didn't really need? More to the point: how many pieces of great writing do you read on the web every day, without ever paying a dime to their authors? If you prefer a world where the only way for creative people to get compensated is through selling their followers' attention to advertisers, then go right ahead and ignore this. I, for one, prefer a more direct relationship between my choices and my money. And I think The Magazine, with low overhead but great writing, bought and paid for with direct contributions from readers, is a great step in the right direction. Will I stop reading this thing if it ever does get ads? Probably. If I want to read something ad-supported, there's plenty of that on the web, and it's free. Until then, I applaud Marco for trying something different, and you can bet I'll put my money where my mouth is.
I'm not sure that paid-magazine or paid-newspaper format works as a viable business model anymore. Now that we have Zite, Flipboard, Pulse, etc. I feel I have great, targeted articles that I like, for free and constantly updated.
This is a different niche than those, though. Those are really computerized blog/news aggregators, and the articles they present tend to be regurgitated press-releases, reviews (free advertising), and a firehose of news, links, and (rarely) some actual journalism, all competing for eyeballs (ad-revenue). This model is different, more curated, and will (hopefully) lead to some more thought-provoking in-depth articles and editorials, by professional writers, which is typically reserved for traditional magazines. Of course, I don't mean to suggest that blogs are incapable of journalism and thoughtful editorials. In fact, iMore stands out to me in this regard, and has a lot of excellent content, just that it can be difficult sometimes to separate the wheat from the "linkbait" chaff. Time will tell if the more relaxed approach "The Magazine" is a viable business model, but I hope it succeeds, and what I've read from it so far looks promising.
A good subset of people will pay for good content. The problem is that good content is hard to come by. Good content requires real actual hard work and time to do, which eliminates 99% of the stuff on the Internet. If these "Magazine" can maintain a constant stream of good stuff, $2/mo is more than worth the price.
Thanks for the article I love the magazine wouldn't have known about it without your coverage good job imore.
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