Unlike most magazine publishers who want to show off their flashy video content and social media-integrated features when they make an app, The Paris Review wanted to keep it simple.
“I dragged my feet about and ignored the idea of making an app for fear that if we made one, it would take us away from what we do best, which is creating a place for discovering and presenting new writers,” said Lorin Stein, editor-in-chief of The Paris Review. “I was afraid that the bells and whistles would lead us down a primrose path and that half of the staff would be dedicated to making videos.”
But Stein came around when it became clear that an app would be great for international distribution. “Ever since we moved our printing to the States in the seventies, it has been difficult to distribute in Europe,” Stein told AppNewser. “Our highest concentration of readers after New York is in London, so it made sense to let people subscribe digitally. We wanted to use the technology but not one inch further than made sense for what we do.”
The Atavist, a technology and publishing company dedicated to bringing stories into the digital realm, built the app which will launch on October 1st. The app, which will be available for iOS devices, will include lots of different content. There will be new issues, back issues, and anthologies. You can subscribe for $30 a year or buy the various releases a la carte. Some content will be given away for free. “The Atavist has come up with an elegant app that lets us present facsimiles of our new issues and facsimiles of our rare issues,” said Stein.
The app is not meant to be a place to go for lots of exclusive content. The idea is to replicate the print magazine in a digital edition. “We don’t want to make a new magazine,” explained Stein. “We just want to make the magazine more widely available and have an easy way of showcasing old stuff.”
Interestingly, to create the app the publisher was forced to begin creating a digital archive of the magazine, which did not exist previously. The project of scanning old issues is ongoing and as new issues are scanned, they will be released through the app. Managing the past has been no easy task. Stein said that they couldn’t find all of the old issues in the office. “We had to go out and buy them,” Stein laughed. What was on the eBay list? Issue #18 in which George Plimpton interviews Ernest Hemingway.