Marco Arment’s The Magazine Might Be the Right Path

You know where I consume the vast majority of my news and other reading? My iPad. Why? Because I truly prefer to hold something that I'm reading.

When I want to catch up on the news of the day, I grab my iPad and fire up Zite or Fever or Reeder. I don't think I'm alone in this either. Why the excitement about an iPad mini or other tablets?

Because we like to use them to consume media—like reading.

Which is why this morning when I saw (on Zite) the post on GigaOm about Marco Arment's new app “The Magazine”, I downloaded and subscribed right away—Instapaper founder Marco Arment launches magazine on iTunes — Tech News and Analysis.

You just have to read the Forward and you'll probably be hooked. Of course if you subscribe like I did, you'll really get hooked on the first articles (posts?)—for examepl Stables and Volatiles-The Magazine—which I've read two of thus far.

But why do I think that Marco is onto something? It has nothing to do with his impressive track record, it has to do with another GigaOm post from Mathew Ingram that I recently read—Digital first isn’t an option for media — it’s the only way forward—if digital first is the only way forward then launching a curated, niche-focused, digital magazine makes sense. The subscription price isn't dear ($2 a month) and if the subscription is going to authors, primarily, then that sounds like a decent model to try out.

And this is also an important point here, Marco is fully prepared for this venture not to work out. He said in the forward:

I’m starting this with a staff of one. I can develop the app, procure and edit the articles, and write occasional articles myself. There’s no venture capital funding, no corporate backer, and very little starting capital. My biggest fixed cost is the up-front design and development of the app, and my biggest recurring cost is paying writers. If it doesn’t turn a profit within two months — just four issues — I’ll shut it down.

He's willing to take a risk on this venture, but not a foolish one.

I think the entire philosophy of The Magazine makes sense. Focus on great content, pull in great content that might be “old” but still resonates, and don't lock authors into writing for only him. Don't try to make a digital experience, just try to make a digital edition of great content. Of course great content costs money to be written, so pay the writers. Instead of trying to sell a slew of ads (which then complicates the basic, no frills design), just charge a fair price for the content.

Now, why can't the Vancouver Sun do this? While I did enjoy the multimedia experience in the app, I'd be fine with a much simpler app that just focused on content and not layout.

Mathew is bang on with his asertion of digital first and I think Marco might be the first person to actually put it into practice.

Now, I just have to find out how I can contribute to The Magazine.

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