Friday, March 29, 2013

Paperweight, a new digital humor magazine, is relaunched into the Apple Newsstand after working out not-so-funny issues with configuring subscriptions

Launching an app can be quite an ordeal, I should know as I've been trying to replace my old iPhone app for TNM for over a year. For the writer/editor Chris Duffy and designer/ developer Brain Perry their launch of a new digital humor magazine seemed to be going so well – right up until the new app actually launched, then the problems began.

Two weeks ago TNM reported on the launch of Paperweight a humor magazine that began with a Kickstarter funding effort (see original TNM post here). The fundraising effort was wildly successful, raising $16,556 on a goal of $15K.

"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. "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 app was built using the Mag+ platform which resulted in a digital magazine that could be read on the iPhone, as well as the iPad, and in both portrait and landscape. The digital magazines are scheduled to appear bi-monthly and are priced at $1.99.

"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," Duffy said two weeks ago.

When the app launched, though, a few bugs were discovered – or rather one big one.

"After working this morning with Mag+ we found out that our intended purchasing configuration (subscription only) currently isn't supported," Brian Perry told me when the app launched. "To resolve this, we'll be adding an additional option to purchase a single issue of Paperweight with no reoccurring subscription."

"Given the situation, we decided it would be best to remove the app from sale in the App Store until the new in-app purchase is approved by Apple.  It's unfortunate that this will cause additional delay, but we're hopeful that this will just be an initial hiccup and our future readers will be able to have the experience we intended," Perry said.

So the app disappeared from the Newsstand the very day it appeared, March 14 – and the wait began to see when it would reappear.

While waiting Duffy and Perry were kind enough to give me a log-in to the app so that I could take a nice,  long look. I even whipped off a short walk-through video (see below). The video was uploaded to YouTube and I set about thinking about what to write when the app made its appearance again.

What I didn't know was that the updated app, which simply fixed the issue, had quickly been resubmitted to Apple for approval. But there it sat... for almost two weeks.

Duffy told me today that they were wondering what was going on and emailed the app review team. That seemed to do the trick and the app appeared today inside the App Store. Duffy says he empathizes with developers who have to deal with this all the time. But now he and his team have had the experience, and now they have a live app – a native tablet magazine that readers should enjoy.

Whether Duffy and Perry will find the humor in the experience only time will tell. But one hopes that they will find that the effort has been worth it and that Paperweight will find its audience inside the Newsstand.