Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kickstarter supported humor magazine Paperweight launches, a bit unprepared, into the Newsstand

Update: The app talked about in this piece has been withdrawn from the App Store, mostly with an updated version to be released soon. I'll follow-up with a post on the updated app that can look at the actual digital issue inside once an update clears the Apple review team.

It's potentially a great story: two guys want to launch a humor magazine, one's an editor, the other a web designer; they do a Kickstarter project hoping to raise $15,000 and manage to exceed their goal very quickly; and today the new digital magazine launched in Apple's Newsstand. But now reality sets in as the new publishers need to deal with the issues faced by all digital publishers, issue delivery, bugs, and overall management of a new magazine venture.

Paperweight is the creation of writer/editor Chris Duffy and designer/ developer Brain Perry. Their Kickstarter project, begun on October 23 of last year, ultimately funded the creation of this iOS digital-only magazine and the publishing team chose to build their tablet-only magazine using the Mag+ platform. Things went swimmingly at first, with Wired's Angela Watercutter seeing the Kickstarter project only two days in and writing a story about Paperweight for Wired's website.

(The team's goal was to raise $15,000, but managed to attract 220 backers to reach $16,556 in funding.)

The launch, however, has experienced a few hiccups as the app entered the App Store without there being an actual issue to download, a problem familiar to digital publishers who find one morning that their app has unexpectedly been approved and launched by Apple.

Paperweight: A Moderately Cultured Humor Magazine, as it appears on the "cover" was born out of the meeting of its two founders at ImprovBoston in Cambridge, Mass.

"I'm coming at it from as someone who has been writing and performing comedy, and Brian is coming at it from a designer and web background," Duffy told me this morning. "We both perform comedy and love comedy and read a lot of it. We basically felt there wasn't a magazine like this we wanted to read, and when we started to think about what it would take to put it together we kind of realized that between the two of us we had the perfect match of skills to bring it to fruition."

The digital magazine, in the form of a universal iOS app, will appear bi-monthly priced at $1.99. The goal is to be reader supported by driving subscriptions, with the revenue supporting not only the Mag+ fees but also paying contributors.

"We would much rather pay contributors than pay ourselves. This is something we like doing a lot, but we also felt that the fact that people aren't getting paid for their work right now, even a nominal fee, was one of the biggest motivations for doing this."

The publishers used the Mag+ platform to create its digital issues and app, resulting in a universal app (iPhone and iPad). The magazine's Kickstarter page states that if funding goes well (and it did) the publisher may eventually support Android devices, as well.

The team also said that the reason to create an tablet magazine was the interactivity that only a tablet magazine can bring to a magazine. "We are designing lots of interactive features for Paperweight some of which won’t translate outside of the app. That’s part of what we’re so excited about. These pieces couldn’t exist anywhere else," the Kickstarter project page said.

Hopefully, the team will get the bugs worked out soon enough before the joke proves to be on their readers. But the launch of Paperweight is yet another example of new citizen publishers entering the magazine field, often under the radar of traditional publishers, and most definitely invisible to the trade magazine publishers who keep telling us that there are fewer and fewer new magazine launches.

Since I could not access the premiere issue here is the video created by the Paperweight team for their Kickstarter project: