Marco Arment’s The Magazine showed that a new way of building a profitable magazine with recurring subscriptions was possible. While it seemed “obvious” in hindsight, The Magazine proved that Apple’s Newsstand platform could be used to deliver a simpler, yet engaging magazine experience to the reader, eschewing the typical complexities of magazines that struggled in their shift from paper to digital. With its simplicity, The Magazine set a new standard.
Today, Jim Dalrymple is launching The Loop Magazine, an “extension” of The Loop with a focus on longform content. Available on the iPhone and iPad and built with TypeEngine, The Loop Magazine will publish two issues per month with a $1.99 monthly subscription; thanks to Newsstand, issues will be delivered wirelessly and automatically, with payments handled directly by the iTunes Store.
As a reader of The Loop and listener of Jim’s podcast on the 5by5 network, Amplified, I wanted to ask him about his decision to launch a standalone magazine and, why, after 20 years of writing on the web, he picked Apple’s Newsstand as the only delivery platform.
Federico Viticci: Why did you decide to build a magazine for The Loop?
Jim Dalrymple: I’ve looked at building an app for The Loop for several years, but nothing seemed to fit with my vision. I didn’t want an app that mirrored the Web site, I wanted to add value for the readers, to be able to give them something they couldn’t find on the Web site. When I saw Marco’s magazine, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Obviously, the content is much different and that’s what will set the publications apart.
A tremendous amount of work has gone into every aspect of The Loop magazine from the fonts and design, to the writers I chose to be part of it. I want readers to enjoy every single article in a clean, ad-free environment. They should look forward to every issue because the experience was so good.
FV: How will The Loop website and magazine complement each other in the future?
JD: The Loop magazine is an extension of my interests on the Web site, so they will always complement one another. On the Web site, I will link to a story that I find interesting. In the magazine, I will go to the writer and ask them to write an exclusive article for The Loop magazine.
FV: What topics do you want to cover in The Loop Magazine going forward?
JD: I’m open to almost anything. That’s what makes The Loop Web site so unique. There could be a story on Apple and the next thing could be a video of Jimi Hendrix or Ozzy Osbourne. It could also be a story about design or user interaction with apps – as long as it’s interesting, it could find its way on The Loop or in the magazine.
FV: Do you see Newsstand as the future of mobile publishing?
JD: I began publishing on the Internet in 1994. At that time traditional media outlets were having a tough time getting their heads around publishing to that new platform, and in some ways they are still struggling. I was convinced that the Internet was a big shift in publishing and it was. There have been a lot of attempts in the intervening years to bring magazines to the digital realm, but I haven’t taken the plunge until now. None of them seemed right to me.
Apple’s Newsstand is the first time since 1994 that I’ve felt another shift in the publishing industry was upon us, so I jumped at it. Apple takes care of distribution, payments and the business side of things, leaving the publisher focus on what they do best – publishing great content.
In some ways, I feel like I’m back in 1994. The traditional magazine outlets are having a hard time wrapping their heads around platforms like Newsstand and the best way to publish content. I’m confident that offering readers exclusive long-form articles in a clean app is the way to go.
I have been able to read the first issue of The Loop Magazine in advance, and the app is exactly what you’d expect in a post-The Magazine world: using The Loop’s existing color scheme, The Loop Magazine has a clean layout, built-in sharing options, embedded author bios, and a sidebar where you can navigate issues and articles. The first issue comes with six articles – I especially liked the ones by Matt Gemmell and Flexibits’ Michael Simmons. Unlike The Magazine, the app has a built-in web browser to open URLs, but I’d like to see an option to send links to Google Chrome. Right now, supported sharing options include Safari, Twitter, Mail, and Messages.
I’m glad to see more writers experimenting with new business models and I’m happy about the fact that Arment’s The Magazine has encouraged others to move away from traditional advertising on the web. I look forward to seeing how Dalrymple’s The Loop Magazine will evolve in the future.