If there was one publication which highly influenced my decision to create a digital magazine, it would be Timothy Paul Moore’s independently created art zine, Letter to Jane. It was (and is) the most compelling example of digital editorial design on the iPad.
As other publications rode the initial wave of excitement the iPad built for the future of digital publication–the realities of which I’ll leave for others to debate–Letter to Jane stood out from the rushed, scanned PDF magazines or the overtly complicated multimedia behemoths (in file size) which required instructions to use. Moore’s layouts were beautiful and austere. The themed apps, with their slightly different look and feel from issue-to-issue, conveyed a handcrafted quality as the physical zines of old.
(Letter to Jane cont.)
Most importantly, the interface was straightforward while simultaneously elegant. Just take a look:
Moore, a designer, taught himself how to code in order to pull off the his vision for an art centric publication. With every subsequent issue, the refinements to the aesthetic and experience were indicative of his growing skills. Photography and video were allowed to fill the entire frame, while text would fade in or out as required while not ignoring basic tenants of readability. By the fourth (and so far current) issue, he had created a unique visual experience so artistically integrated with the editorial layout, the reading experience proved more joyous than any products produced by Condé Nast or simularly large publisher.
This convinced me to at least consider studying code and building my own magazine app as Moore had done. However, the more I investigated Xcode and Objective-C, the more I realized the degree to which coding was beyond my personal ability to master, thus casting doubt on building an app on my own. Even when Moore offered the code to Letter to Jane in a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of the fourth issue, I could already understand how much time and energy the task of creating the content while also attending to technical issues would exhaust. I had to focus on one thing. I could only focus on one thing.
Considering my strengths, weaknesses and experience, I had to devote my energies toward the creative aspect of the publication. This meant I needed to find a publishing platform in which the technical components were already built with only the content required to input. Or I could perhaps commission someone to create the app. There were options available to me. As long as I could, at the very least, approximate the Letter to Jane experience in my own app I would be satisfied. By good fortune, my research led to a most advantageous discovery. But that’s a story for another day.
Please do check out Letter to Jane: Shadows. It’s available for free in the App Store.