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Subcompact publishing: next evolution of the magazine

by: Amy Gahran |

A recent manifesto about a new approach to magazine-style publishing may spark some new options for those who seek to serve communities with local news and information on tablets.

Tablets -- including the new, smaller iPad Mini -- were extremely popular gifts in the recent holiday season. Along with tablet e-readers (such as Amazon's Kindle Fire HD), tablets have now achieved a level of popularity that they're becoming a viable target for community publishers and information providers.

As you consider your tablet options, read Subcompact Publishing, posted Nov. 20, 2012 by independent writer, designer and publisher Craig Mod.

This manifesto, which has generated considerable discussion, argues that tablets offer ample opportunities for lightweight magazine-style publishing, for both general and niche audiences. Targeted and delivered correctly, this can also be a revenue generating strategy. The trick, says Mod, is making the user interface very simple, and abandoning conventions that were only truly required in the world of print publishing.

Mod writes: "Subcompact publishing tools are first and foremost straightforward. They require few to no instructions. They are easily understood on first blush. The editorial and design decisions around them react to digital as a distribution and consumption space.

"They are the result of dumping our publishing-related technology on a table and asking ourselves: what are the core tools we can build with all this stuff?"

He proposed these starting points subcompact magazine tools and editorial strategy:

  • 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

Mod's post explains each point in detail. Later he also published a roundup of the considerable reaction (and some disagreement) that his post generated.

Amy Gahran

Amy Gahran is a journalist, editor, trainer, entrepreneur, strategist, and media consultant based in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to writing
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