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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Publishing Industry Shrinking + New Technology + New York 'Get-It-Doneness' = 29th Street Publishing

The app made by 29th Street Publishing for the
magazine Little Star, seen on iPhone and iPad
29th Street Publishing? Who the hell are they? What's their deal? Why are they in the WSJ news today? Why are they being mentioned on my blog today?

I'll tell you why --- they are birthing a new publishing model that will revolutionize magazine publishing 'one app at a time' as they say.

The goal is to help writers and editors communicate directly with their audience --- also, to pay writers fairly without compromising quality of the experience.

So, we will be talking about apps (one of my weaknesses - I can't visualize how they work all the time), specifically making apps more simple for non-tech freelance writer and indie editor types, serial content and monetizing said serial content more easily.

Damn, you got all that? I'm not sure I do - but its interesting stuff. For instance, this excerpt: 

"Finding a way to earn subscription revenue from digital platforms is a matter of survival for writers," said 29th Street’s Mr. Eskin.

Jackie Bischof writes this in The Wall Street Journal, Metropolis blog:

Pushing Editors Into World of Apps

The small startup 29th Street Publishing is quietly trying to revolutionize magazine publishing, one app at a time.

The Midtown-based company promises to take the technical wizardry out of app making, easing the pathway to subscription revenue for those with eager — if nonpaying — online audiences. 29th Street helps its clients, drawn largely from New York City’s deep ranks of freelance writers and independent editors, develop and maintain simple apps for serialized content. The staff also provides gentle nudges to get new editions out on time.

“It’s the combination of the publishing industry shrinking, the technology and the New York, ‘get-it-doneness’ right now that’s making [this model] possible,” said David Jacobs, a company co-founder. The goal, he explained, is to help writers and editors “own and communicate directly with their audience. Also to pay writers fairly without compromising the quality of the experience.”

Kevin Nguyen, editor of the website Bygone Bureau, has an app among the two dozen in development at 29th Street. He sees a tantalizing promise: generating revenue to pay his writers by mining material already available on his website, which offers essays on technology and the arts.

“I used to have a skepticism about repackaging things that have already been published,” he said. But part of it is a chance for readers to “support a publication [they] care about.” If the subscription base grows, Mr. Nguyen said he would consider offering articles available exclusively on the Bygone Bureau app.

Asking digital readers to pony up for essays, journalism and even poems — the Poetry Foundation’s monthly magazine will soon be sold through a 29th Street app — is no longer a fringe proposition. Major newspapers, including the New York Times, have recently embraced digital-subscription models.

Even among bloggers, who have typically published their work for free since the rise of the medium, there has been a new push into paid content typified by Andrew Sullivan’s new self-published website supported by $20 annual subscriptions. Maro Arment, creator of bookmarking software Instapaper, launched his own monthly digital magazine last year through Apple Inc.'s AAPL +2.78%Newsstand service with a $1.99 price tag per issue.

For the five apps released so far by 29th Street, Apple’s Newstand is the sole conduit to readers’ iPhones and iPads. That means the technology giant takes a cut of each sale, along with a per-subscriber fee paid to 29th Street that is negotiated with each publisher.

Mr. Jacobs met Natalie Podrazik at the blogging-software company Apperceptive, and the duo launched the 29th Street in 2011. Blake Eskin, former web editor of the New Yorker, joined the startup last year as editorial director.

“The idea was really for us to just start a company with a blank slate and solve a problem from scratch,” said Mr. Jacobs.

Mr. Eskin’s job is to guide writers and editors through the process of planning and filling a regularly released app, helping assess if there might be market to produce digital magazines that readers will actually want to pay for.

“This is [for] people who have to find a way to have the discipline and vision to publish something on a regular basis,” Mr. Eskin said. The ideal publisher isn’t “writing one very big thing but writing something serial.”

Read and learn more



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