Making a hardcover book may not seem like the most logical next step for an online-only publication. But for Glenn Fleishman, the Seattle-based owner and publisher of The Magazine, it’s a perfect fit.
“It’s always seemed logical to me as a step, because of the kind of feedback we get from readers and from non-subscribers,” said Fleishman. “Subscribers have often said, ‘yeah, we like the app, but we wish we had something more permanent.'”
Fleishman, who has edited The Magazine since its second issue, bought the publication from Marco Arment in June of this year, and is now working on marking its first year of business by crowdfunding a print anthology of selections from The Magazine’s first 27 issues.
The goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to raise $48,000 for a 200-page hardcover book, as well as an e-book edition that will also be made available. A chunk of the proceeds will go to providing reprint fees for all of the writers whose work is a part of the final product, something that Fleishman, a long-time freelance writer himself and a former Jeopardy champ, considers to be incredibly important, even though the contracts writers sign with The Magazine don’t require that they receive fees for reprints.
“I have 60 days exclusive rights from the authors after publication, and then non-exclusive thereafter. And under the contract, I can do essentially anything and never pay them again, which seems to be horrible,” he said. “And so, part of the planning of the print side was I wanted to have a budget to have reprint fees, so everyone’s going to get a little bit of money, if we meet our basic goal.”
At the time of its launch in October of last year, The Magazine was one of first independent publications to be distributed solely through Apple’s Newsstand platform for iOS. Since then, it has also expanded to the web so that people who don’t own an iPad or iPhone can get access to its content, and Fleishman has recently started posting shorter content from The Magazine to Medium. (It’s now possible for subscribers to get .epub and .mobi versions of each issue emailed to them).
Backers can pick from a variety of different rewards, including discounted digital subscriptions to The Magazine, copies of the book in both digital and hardcover forms, as well as art prints, visits from contributors and a visit from Fleishman himself. If the Kickstarter ends up going over its goal, Fleishman has outlined a number of stretch goals, including expanding the book to 300 pages, and releasing new e-book collections. All of those stretch goals also come with an increase to the amount of money writers get paid.
“So the people being part of the Kickstarter get a more and more interesting book, it’ll get longer, that’s one of the stretch goals, we will add foil embossing on the cover, it’ll look prettier and prettier, we’re going to take more advantage of print, and the writers will get more and more money, the more that’s brought into the campaign,” Fleishman said.
He added that it has always been his goal to structure the effort in such a way “where everybody involved gets compensated.”
Fleishman didn’t jump into this project lightly.
He’s using knowledge that he gleaned from a previous attempt at Kickstarting a book about crowdfunding, as well as interviews he’s done on his podcast with other people who have found success in crowdfunding. For him, one of the key takeaways from those experiences was ensuring that backers feel invested in the Kickstarter process.
People need to feel like “patrons,” he says.
“Even when they’re just buying a copy of the book, essentially, they know that buying that copy of the book that a) they get the book and b) they get the satisfaction of calling the book into existence,” Fleishman said. “And they can see enough at this point that it’s going to happen that they don’t doubt it’s going to happen.”
If you’re interested in picking up the book without buying into the Kickstarter, Fleishman says that if the project funds, he’ll be able to produce a small number of additional copies for sale after backers get their rewards. But he cautions people not to rely too much on that option.
“You don’t need to get into the Kickstarter to get the print book, but if you don’t get into the Kickstarter, the print book may not happen,” he said.
If you’re interested in getting a feel for The Magazine to see if you want to pledge, Fleishman has two stories he frequently recommends: “A Beacon of Hope,” by John Patrick Pullen, a tale of an eastern Washington town that wants to build a giant lava lamp and “How He Met My Mother,” a piece by Jason Snell about how a unique set of circumstances brought his parents together. Both stories will be included in the anthology.
Previously on GeekWire: GeekWire Radio: Glenn Fleishman on new iPhones, The Magazine and more