If you’ve not had a look at iOS app The Magazine yet, we thoroughly recommend it. Launched by Instapaper developer Marco Arment earlier this year, it’s a fresh take on what a smartphone or tablet magazine might look like if created from scratch rather than being in thrall to print design and structure.
A fresh take, but not THE only fresh take. Arment has published a blog post kicking back against suggestions that The Magazine represents a template for other publishers to follow. “I don’t know how to save journalism, but I’m also not qualified to. I’m not a journalist and I don’t know much about that industry,” he writes.
“I also have no interest in showing the periodical industry ‘how it’s done’. I set out to create this magazine, not make a template for other publishers to follow.”
It’s an important point, although one that we fear may not be heeded by some publishers, keen to make sense of the brave new world of digital publishing by, er, copying something that seems to be working.
But Arment’s post is well worth reading for his strong response to that, based on “daily inquiries” from companies who want to license the platform he’s built for his publication.
“The last thing I’d want is for a bunch of The Magazine lookalikes to flood the App Store with mediocre articles that haven’t passed through an editor and should just be (or already are) someone’s mediocre blog posts, just so they can easily charge for a subscription,” he writes.
“I don’t want everyone to rush into this model, making an app that looks and works just like mine. I don’t want to make ‘the WordPress of Newsstand’, because I don’t want it to be that easy to copy The Magazine… True tablet-native publishing should mean using the freedom of modern platforms to break out of the idea that publications need to follow a universal mold. They’re all just software now, and a unified platform would only limit the possibilities.”
What he said. We’re hopeful that there will be several more developers, journalists and designers banding together in 2013 to come up with their own, different formats. Some of them may work for big, established magazine companies, but others will be independent. It’s an exciting time.