There’s something curiously recursive about linking to a website to read an article I wrote for an app-based magazine. But happily, The Magazine has just expanded its subscription base from its iOS6 app to include web subscriptions; and even non-subscribers can access and read one full article each month. (Other links that month will just show previews: the first couple of paragraphs.) So you can go right now and take a look at “Unbound pages,” my article about the typography of reading onscreen, in the Mar 28 issue.
I questioned the initial limitation of The Magazine as an iOS-only app (indeed, one that requires iOS6, which lets out older iOS devices like my first-generation iPad). But what that limitation did was focus squarely on a specific audience: tech-savvy readers who are likely to be early adopters and who work or play in one of the creative fields (which tilt strongly toward Apple’s digital ecosystem). It also meant that the app itself could be clearly and simply designed.
While there’s a difference between how the app displays an issue on an iPhone and on an iPad, the basic typographic treatment is fixed; the only real change appears if you shift the orientation, which affects how long the lines of text are. (This is all directly related to what I was writing about.) The display of the articles on the website is similarly simple and limited, but by the nature of current web-design tools (again, directly related!) it’s less typographically sophisticated, less well adapted to the screen “page.” But you can subscribe to the web version even if you don’t own an iOS6 device; that expands the potential readership.
With the current update to The Magazine’s software, you can also link, as I’ve just done, to a single article that a non-subscriber can read in its entirety, along with previews of other articles in the issue. That “porous paywall” is a smart marketing move: it encourages dissemination of material from The Magazine without giving it all away. (And the terms of The Magazine’s contracts are that they’re only buying one month of exclusivity anyway; authors can do anything they want after that first month, including posting the article for free on their own website or broadcasting it to the entire world. This seems like a model that’s well adapted to the realities of current online publishing.)
Go ahead and subscribe. There’s a bunch of other good material in the new issue, and I expect that I’ll write for The Magazine again.
[Image: detail of one of the illustrations done for my article by Sara Pocock.]