Veteran tech editor Jim Dalrymple, a longtime force on the Apple beat, is branching out into the world of digital magazine publishing today with the launch of The Loop magazine for iPad and iPhone — a twice-monthly subscription publication that complements Dalrymple’s news website of the same name.
The launch also marks the debut of TypeEngine, a new iOS magazine publishing service started on Vashon Island in the Seattle region. The service was founded by Jamie Smyth, the CEO of The Smyth Group app development consulting agency, along with designer Daniel Genser.
The inspiration for TypeEngine came when a client asked for an easy way to publish for Apple’s Newsstand platform, Smyth says. After looking around, the company realized that good options were limited to non-existent, and decided to develop the service itself, with inspiration from Marco Arment’s The Magazine.
After the launch of The Loop today, 16 other magazines are scheduled to launch over the next month using the TypeEngine service, and Smyth says many more are in the pipeline.
The Loop is a high-profile launch partner. Dalrymple says TypeEngine was exactly what he was looking for when he set out on his project.
“Jamie and Daniel were in sync with what I wanted to deliver with The Loop magazine,” explains Dalrymple via email. “TypeEngine has some great features for publishers, but it’s all delivered in a very clean app for the readers — that was very important to me. People are used to reading content surrounded by ads, but I wanted to give them quality content with no ads or other distractions. TypeEngine made that possible.”
The TypeEngine offers an end-to-end system for creating and designing a magazine, adding video and audio assets, previewing an issue and publishing via Apple’s App Store and Newsstand app.
Here are the economics: After a $99 setup fee, the service costs the publisher $25 a month plus 15 cents per download. In the case of The Loop, Dalrymple is charging $1.99/month for a subscription, promising two issues a month. Publishers also give 30 percent to Apple under the traditional revenue split.
Dalrymple has a unique perspective on all of this, having covered Apple for so many years. I asked him what he’s learned so far as a new publisher of an iOS magazine, and what Apple could do better.
“Right now, Apple is doing exactly what I want — taking care of the delivery and business side of the app experience,” he said. “That leaves me to deal with the content, which is the important thing for any publisher.”
Any lessons learned from Rupert Murdoch’s failed experience with The Daily app for iPad? “The Daily was an interesting project, but I believe that Murdoch brought a lot of overhead from traditional publishing to a digital app,” said Dalrymple. “He was in a tough position of trying to build something great in a totally new market. I don’t have those same issues — I’m coming from 20 years of publishing on the Internet.”
The Loop’s debut includes original articles by writers including developer and U/X designer Matt Gemmell, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and Peter Cohen on the ‘balkanization’ of Mac gaming. A preview of the content is available here, along with Dalrymple’s introductory letter for the magazine.
Photo of Dalrymple by Glenn Fleishman, via Flickr.