Italian newsstand
Credit: By anniejay on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

A new 'micro magazine' launched this week with the aim of helping journalists and publishers get to grips with opportunities in the app and mobile world.

The first issue of App Publisher magazine was released on Apple Newsstand yesterday in a move that founder Paul Blake also hopes will test the viability of creating low cost 'micro magazines' for Apple Newsstand.

"If developing an app feels like it's a scary, expensive thing to do, it doesn't have to be," he explained.

"There are plenty of ways out there now where you can do it very affordably without having to write a line of code or even look at a line of code."

Blake, a former editor at Information World Review and editorial director at technology news site, has more than 25 years experience in the digital publishing business.

The first issue of App Publisher magazine includes an in-depth feature on creating content for mobile, a profile of mobile publishing platform Magloft and a review of App Design Vault's template for publishing to Newsstand.

Published every other month, single issues are priced at $3.99 (£2.49), or a subscription entitles readers to a one-month free trial, then $1.99 (£1.49) every two months.

The magazine will have a focus on iOS, Blake said, "mainly because that is proving to be the most financially viable app platform for content creators and publishers right now"

Ultimately, the idea for the magazine stems from his belief that "mobile is unavoidable".

"You've got to have your content there," he added, "whether an app is the best way of doing it or a mobile website."

App Publisher magazine
Credit: Screenshot from App Publisher magazine

For Blake, apps have the edge over responsive websites because they "tend to have a bit more functionality built in and you're a bit more in control of the experience".

And, at a time when paid jobs for journalists are increasingly scarce, Blake anticipates a future trend for writers creating an app as a way of publishing their own content.

"There's obviously a certain amount of consolidation around print and as that happens it becomes more difficult to write and get published if you're in more of a niche area," he explained

He likens the change in the media to a similar shift in the music industry, where technology has made it easier for people to strike out on their own.

"If you look at the way the music industry is now, many individual musicians and bands don't go anywhere near a conventional record company," he added. "They just do it themselves."

"This is the beginning of a revolution where writers can actually become publishers and do it cheaply and easily.

"It's all about knowing your audience and creating great content for that audience," he said, rather than allowing the technological side of developing an app to be an "impediment".

"I can only see it growing as smartphones and tablets become people's primary devices, rather than desktop computers or laptops."

Blake has spent around £200 producing the magazine so far and it is the first app he has ever produced. He admits that the project is "a bit of an experiment".

"Part of the magazine is an opportunity for me to talk about 'well, this worked, this didn't work, this is difficult, this is easy,' and really share my experiences as I go along," he said.

"One of the characteristics of micro publishing is that, like a blog, it tends to be much more about the personality of the writer and their views, opinions and perspective on the world.

"So in that respect the magazine is probably a little bit of a hybrid – it reflects my experience of producing it."

At the moment most of the content is produced by Blake himself, although he is "taking contributions" from other people and aims to publish at least eight articles per issue.

If the project is a success he hopes to be able to publish monthly, however he added that it is important for the magazine to "evolve around the readers".

"I think the most important thing is to asses who your users are and what their needs are and to build it around them.

"What better way to engage with this [app] revolution than by actually doing it yourself?"

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