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Instapaper founder Marco Arment launches magazine on iTunes

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After breaking new media ground with products like Tumblr and Instapaper, Marco Arment is turning his attention to a more conventional publishing format — the magazine.

Launching today in iTunes, Arment’s “The Magazine” will showcase top technology writers and ideas, offering four articles every two weeks. The first edition will cover topics like tech writer John Gruber ‘sblog format, geeks and sports and people’s relationship with technology, according to screenshots in iTunes.

To view the Magazine’s Table of Contents requires users to download a 7-day free trial which then turns into an auto-renewal at $1.99. The app is only available to iOS6 subscribers which means those of of us waiting out Maps-Gate will have to hold off. Fortunately, my colleague Erica Ogg was able to procure a screenshot:

In the forward, Arment explores how a legacy concept of a “magazine” should apply in the world of digital publishing and notes that many iPad magazines are carrying unnecessary and expensive baggage from their print days. He invokes comedian Louis C.K. as an inspiration for breaking from conventional distribution models: “Usually, things are done the way they’re done for good reasons. But sometimes, they’re only done that way because nobody has questioned it recently.”

Arment also offers a refreshingly frank summary of his business plan: “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.”

The launch also coincides with a newfound interest in long form journalism by web publications, like BuzzFeed and SB Nation, which typically rely on short, snappy formats.

From a strategic point of view, Arment’s new magazine ambitions would seem to be a good complement to Instapaper — his service that lets readers clip long articles they find on the web and collect to read later in a different place or platform.

16 Responses to “Instapaper founder Marco Arment launches magazine on iTunes”

  1. Sheesh. Seems like there’s a lot of folks waiting to ambush someone, then beat a dead horse. It’s rare, yet reassuring to hear people admit they made a mistake, especially in a public forum. Back the *#%@ off.

  2. Michael W. Perry

    My best wishes for his success. Sadly, I’ve got so much to read, techie and otherwise, I won’t be a subscriber.

    The nasty comments about Fox News are a good illustration of the perennial differences between conservatives and liberals in America.

    As Edmund Burke noted in his critique of the French Revolution, conservatives believe that human nature and societies are too complex to shape according to a single, overarching idea. A good society can only be built over a long period of time and using the feedback of everyone in the society. It needs many voices. It needs to move slowly and compromise or seeming good ideas will bring great harm. That’s precisely what Burke warned would happen with the French Revolution. and the Great Terror proved him right.

    Liberalism, on the other hand, believes in what it used to call a ‘vanguard’–an enlightened few who have seen the future and are leading the rest of use to it (Hope and Change). The strange zeal for Obama, given his thin resume, is an illustration of that. Liberals smile benignly on those who follow meekly along as they ought. They sneer at the reactionaries, who resist, clinging instead, in Obama’s words, to ‘guns and religion.’

    In the conservative worldview, the media needs a multitude of voices, including those of liberals. That’s why polls consistently show that conservatives understand liberals far better than liberals understand conservatives. It’s also why, in the liberal universe, there’s no need for a Fox News. But for trivial distinctions, there’s one true and progressive way echoed by the rest of the media news outlets and any other voices are simply inhibiting progress if not outright malevolent–currently the ‘evil rich who don’t want to pay their fair share.’

    It’s also why liberal support for free speech is so shallow. ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, for instance, visited Stalin’s USSR in the late 1920s, admitted that the country had no civil liberties, and, in his book, Liberty Under the Soviets, concluded that it didn’t matter, that free speech wasn’t important as long as progressive thought, meaning communism, could speak freely.

    We saw that most clearly recently when the Obama administration responded with frustration that they couldn’t silence a shoddy trailer for a film that opposed a current liberal and a Obama administration theme–that Islam, even in its politicized variety, is a ‘religion of peace.’ Instead, they resorted to a Gestapo-like, middle-of-the-night raid on the film’s producer on alleged parole violations. That should have made your blood run cold.

    One result of the cloistered liberal worldview is that they’re often caught off guard by events, as demonstrated by last week’s presidential debates. I spotted almost from the start that Obama was an empty suit (or chair), that he used words with no awareness of their meanings. But for four years, liberals have been fed a contrary point of view–the teleprompter driven Obama–from their media.

    Only Fox has offered a counter-narrative to this O-worship, and that’s why they hate it.

    The same is true in other contexts with a lot of tech journalism, something I hope Marco Arment will address. A lot of it is really silly and shallow, gushing over some new gadget much like liberals gush over empty words about hope and change.

    I recent heard one prominent NY Times techie commentator gush that soon we might have an iPhone so thin it could be rolled up. “Stupid,” I thought to myself, “why would I want a phone that rolls up, becomes a bulge in my pocket, and is a pain to unroll and use?”

    Of course, I’d live with a rolled up iPhone, no matter how stupid, if we could just dump Obama and his Chicago political machine come November 6.

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t even get cable with Fox News. I just happened to think that dissenting points of view matter.

    • Peter John

      For what it’s worth – I agree that dissenting points of view matter…not to the point of being a contrarian however. Sadly, that is what most mainstream media has become. Perhaps I should have said ‘CNNBCBSFOX’ Try – a nice mishmash of new clips from many news sources (yes, even FOX!)

    • Gruber consistently calls out bad tech journalism (and their later proven to be incorrect predictions) and gets his own predictions and perspective right on the money. He is the exact opposite of Fox News.

      Now, I can see people not liking him. For example, those with blind devotion to Android and it’s “open” strategy would certainly cloud their ability to judge practical reality and thus, may not like what Gruber has to say.

    • The first article was written by Guy English and merely talks about the Linkblog format popularized by Daring Fireball — nothing in the first episode was written by Gruber.

      Also the app is free and the first 7 days of the subscription is free, perhaps you should be more open minded.

    • Anonymous Coward

      Gruber isn’t “associated” with it, it says that he’s the subject of an article.

      With your reading comprehension skills, subscribing would clearly be a waste of money.