McSweeney’s Looks at the Past and Future of Reading with Newspaper, iPhone App

mcsweeneyslogo.gifThis week, McSweeney’s launches the much anticipated “newspaper” issue of its Quarterly Concern. It’s a one-off, 320 page paper called The San Francisco Panorama that includes not only a broadsheet newspaper, but a standalone magazine (like The New York Times Magazine), a comics section, and a pullout books section. In the press release, McSweeney’s acknowledges the paradox of publishing a newspaper in the autumn of print journalism: “We at McSweeney’s love newspapers. We love the Internet, too. But we believe that print newspapers are an invaluable part of the journalistic landscape.” McSweeney’s goes on to call The Panorama “a 21st-Century newspaper prototype.” It’s no doubt a highly ambitious project, with contributions from writers and artists ranging from Stephen King to Miranda July to Chris Ware.

The Panorama comes along at a notable time for McSweeney’s particularly because the San Francisco based publisher also released its first iPhone app called The Small Chair in October. The app features original content by more of the usual cast of McSweeney’s writers, as well as filmmakers and artists of various kinds. It’s subscription based and uses push notification to alert iPhone users to the arrival of new content.

At the National Book Awards last month, McSweeney’s founder Dave Eggers, who received the Literarian Award, made a comment to the effect of “print books aren’t going anywhere.” So Eggers and McSweeney’s have the past and future of books and media on their minds of late. In the next few days, eBookNewser plans to run a Q&A with Eggers in which he sounds off about The Panorama, The Small Chair, and the future of reading.