The Periodical Co

Earlier, Ben Brooks brought this project to my attention, and I'm already deeply interested.

Essentially it will be a CMS platform that allows non-coders to publish The Magazine-esque content to iOS Newsstand and the web, simply for a tiny cut of the subscription fees. The developers have been partially inspired by Craig Mod's Subcompact Publishing piece that I mentioned (and loved) the other day.

It would seem that Marco's early success with The Magazine has prompted somewhat of a 'gold rush' in self-publishing. There's been a lot of discussion on this topic going around lately, and I think we're going to be seeing a lot of micropublications coming out of the woodwork in the next year or two, especially as more of these publishing tools are released.

People are beginning to see how viable it is for a small-time operation (e.g. one or two people, rather than entire media corporations) to regularly publish fantastic content for just a few bucks a month and still make a tidy profit. Of course, writers have been doing this kind of thing on their blogs for years, but we are a mobile-centric readership these days, and the introduction of iOS Newsstand has seeingly reinvigorated the industry.

It may be that some readers — not myself, mind you — will more easily stomach the idea of an official 'magazine' subscription rather than some blogger's weekly newsletter, even if the content and pricing are similar. Either way, it's an exciting time for publishing and I can't wait to see what's around the corner. I only hope that publishers avoid the temptation to copy The Magazine's overall style and functionality, as may happen if they follow Craig Mod's subcompact manifesto to the letter:

  • Small issue sizes (3-7 articles / issue)
  • Small file sizes
  • Digital-aware subscription prices
  • Fluid publishing schedule
  • Scroll (don’t paginate)
  • Clear navigation
  • HTML(ish) based
  • Touching the open web

According to Hamish McKenzie over at PandoDaily, Periodical Co's product isn't quite ready for release yet but should be in public alpha by next week. I signed up to be notified, and I recommend everyone else do the same. I have a feeling this is going to be huge.