The Rise of “Magging”

on May 10, 2013

Something very interesting is happening in the publishing world, or at least something I think is interesting. The rise of quality digital screens like the iPad and Kindle, along with the ease of distribution through app stores, has opened the door to new breeds of digital magazines. Before such devices like the iPad or Kindle, the production cost of a printed quality magazine made the barrier to entry quite high. While production costs still exist they are far lower and thus opens the door to new players doing interesting things.

In the tech world, sites like Engadget with Distro or The Next Web Magazine are examples of tech sites doing interesting things with their brand. There are two, however, I want to point out and make some observations on.

The first is The Magazine which was created and released by Instapaper creator Marco Arment. I jumped on the premise with the first edition of the Magazine and I have loved everyone. Marco points out in his forward that when The Magazine started it was geared to be about technology related subjects that tech geeks found interesting, written by tech writers. But then, Marco points out, they evolved and broadened the scope to all good writers, writing interesting stories. That is exactly what The Magazine is. Its a return to quality long form writing across a range of subjects. The Magazine is one of the few apps in my Newsstand where when a new edition appears, I make time to read it in its entirety the same day.

Yesterday Jim Dalrymple took on a magazine endeavor all his own called The Loop Magazine. I have the great privilege of contributing an article to the launch edition of the Loop Magazine and I encourage you to check it out. I read the Loop Magazine all they way through and it is going to be another must read for me. [pullquote] Apple was on the forefront of desktop publishing and they are again on the forefront of the next publishing revolution.[/pullquote]

What we are witnessing, I believe, is the evolution of publishing. I’m not sure I would fully consider what has gone on with blogs as the future of publishing. They certainly played a role in bringing digital publishing to where we are but I don’t believe we are where we need to be. The Magazine and The Loop Magazine offer up insight as to how publishing could evolve. I’m loosely calling this term “Magging” until I come up with something better. These are not blogs, but they are highly curated–and highly edited–platforms for quality long form content. This can lead to the discovery of new authors or content sources in which readers can get more from the author through books, media, or other forms of content. Perhaps some of those authors will launch “mags” of their own. This is the opportunity of this new medium. Interestingly Apple was on the forefront of desktop publishing and they are again on the forefront of the next publishing revolution.

What I like about this trend is that it opens the door for many of these digital “mags” to exist and serve all kinds of readers of all interest levels. I sincerely hope Marco, Jim, and all others who go down this road are extremely successful. The world needs good writers and story tellers. Many criticized the blogs and predicted they would kill quality curated editorial content. Andrew Keen made this case in his book The Cult of the Amateur. I was on a panel with Andrew many years ago regarding this subject and we had a fierce debate. Let’s hope that the return to long form writing, and the business models that can sustain them, proves to be the anti-thesis of Andrew’s premise. Hopefully this trend will lead to the cult of the professional.