Almost four years ago, when I first conceived of this project, the third generation iPad was released. Steve Jobs’ promise of the iPad revolutionizing publishing was hitting a good stride; many publishers of popular magazines offered digital versions of their magazines on Apple’s Newsstand. However, problems regarding the magazines themselves frustrated users, from plain PDF files being offered up at expensive prices, to gigabyte bloated magazines with layouts and features so complicated the apps required instructions. Furthermore, creators took umbrage with Newsstand’s “limitations” to offer flexible subscriptions. Discussions spread through the internet regarding how digital publishing should evolve. I read opinions optimistic for the continued potential while others were readying the “trumpets of doom.”
Craig Mod wrote a popular essay entitled ‘Subcompact Publishing’ was one of those which embraced the potential so long as the publications veered away from the legacy design and practices the major publishers brought from print over to digital. He proposed digital publishing resemble the Japanese subcompact automobiles which first seemed underpowered and featureless, but became serious challengers to the big three American automobilemakers after the oil crisis….