A little over a year ago, Tumblr co-founder and Instapaper founder Marco Arment launched The Magazine. At the time, it was a huge risk, mostly because it was something wildly different.
It wasn't different for its features, but for its lack thereof. The Magazine was an incredibly simple publication which stripped its content down to what matters: the words. It published only four articles every two weeks, which was where the bulk of the gamble lied. As John Paul Titlow put it:
Each bi-weekly issue will have only four articles. That's something of a relief: I'm already flooded with articles via Twitter, Flipboard and Instapaper. For some readers, though, four articles might not justify a $4 monthly subscription fee.
A year later, we can say with some assurance that the gamble paid off: a lot of readers seem quite content to pay for high-quality articles that don't pose the threat of overwhelming. Simple can work after all.
Perhaps that's why I, as I do every now and again, have felt a little iOS envy for this past year- as an Android user, I didn't have access to The Magazine... until now, that is.
The Magazine recently partnered with Medium to bring its content to the web. As is explained in the post, some old stuff will make its way onto Medium, but they'll also publish new pieces from their contributors:
We will be bringing some archived and new work to share here, but mostly offering new stories from our contributors, who are located around the world. The thread that connects them and us to you is curiosity. We are fascinated by what we find around us, and want to share the stories of people who make things as well as how things work.
As much as I hope that The Magazine's model becomes a blueprint for future journalistic endeavors, it's more likely that it will remain a sort of niche product, popular among a large enough audience to make it sustainable—even impressively profitable—but too small to make a true dent in the enormous beast that is the current news and magazine landscape.
Still, it's hard not to hope. If most magazines, digital included, are in the Industrial Revolution phase of mass-produced mimicry, The Magazine is the humble blacksmith, occupying only a small corner of the world while meticulously crafting his work with a little sweat and a lot of attention to what his buyers really want.
Granted, we Android users are still getting the short end of the stick, since we still can't get the same Magazine experience that iOS users can, but the daily contributions still mean we can get dive into high-quality, crafted pieces from trusted writers on a daily basis. The partnership seems like a win for everyone- especially readers.