One year ago I wrote here at TNM: "Citizen publishing comes to tablets." It was in response to the first edition of Letter to Jane, a newly released iPad app from independent publisher Tim Moore. One year later Moore has released his third edition: Letter to Jane: Moral Tales.
Moore's iPad magazine is an outgrowth of his blog, turned online magazine, of the same name – a name inspired by Jean-Luc Godard film of the same name. Now, however, the website is online to support the tablet magazine, rather than the other way around.
At the time of his first attempt at iPad publishing Moore explained to me that once he heard about the launch of the iPad he knew what he wanted to do with Letter to Jane.
"I wanted to (bring the magazine to the iPad) ever since I heard about the thing, but wanted to see what the big magazines might do. Then I got a feel for it -- then got one in my hands and realized I'd really like my work to be on there," Moore told me last year.
Now here we are a full year later, and although editions of Letter to Jane have been pretty spaced out, we are now on the third issue. All three editions are still in the App Store: the first edition here, and the second one here.
"I can't believe it's only been a year, but this has been fun learning programming, I'm glad I took it up," Moore told me today. "The first two issues were obviously learning experiences, and when I made this I didn't really feel like a developer until I was midway through the app. I still have a lot to learn but I get the language now and so it's getting easier every day."
Moore has raised the price of issue three to $1.99. Letter to Jane: Moral Tales, though, is his largest and most ambitious edition so far.
"I really wanted to give this issue a location, an identity," Moore wrote on his website about the new issue. "Living in Oregon there are only really three images you get from this state: freaks, freaks in Portland, and freaks in the forrest. None of those images interested me at all. Early on before I knew what the issue was I knew I wanted to shoot it on the Oregon coast. One of the main reasons for that decision was that the Oregon coast can be really ambiguous if you want it to be. It’s always foggy, grey, and rainy with a lot of open spaces that no one ever goes to. This was perfect for me, I really wanted a “beach” nothing specific, just the symbolism of it all."
The tablet magazine is mostly in portrait, though both the video content and the photography are in landscape – though if you are lazy you can see the photos in portrait, as well.
The navigation was a bit confusing at first, but once I realized that one swipes within a story, and clicked at the top to navigate to the next one, I quickly was able to move within the app. This is all explained right at the beginning, but then again I've never been good at following directions.
Letter to Jane is essentially an arts magazine (if you are unfamiliar with it), with interviews with a long list of people, lots of photography and a little video and music. The third edition is definitely his best effort to date – both as a developer and as an indy publisher.
Moore told me that he is working on an update that will fix some typos and such. Like Chris English's Hoodgrown Magazine, Moore is considering making his app into a universal app for reading on the iPhone.
Moore, who is 26 and holds a BFA from Oregon State, is currently doing freelance work where is working with Adobe's digital publishing system. As for his Letter to Jane app Moore said "I think the next challenge I want to take on is in-app, subscription type of apps and put out smaller, cheaper issues more quickly because this issue started to get a little too big for just me to manage towards the end. That all may be a ways off, though."
For his third edition of Letter to Jane, Moore has created a promotion video: