Project Magazine officially launched today on iPad, web-ish

Project Magazine | iPad Magazine

Project, alongside other launches, is both a bold new chapter in media, and a blind pitch into a potentially humiliating void. Whether it changes the fortunes of the written word remains to be seen; built into any new launch these days is the largely optimistic hope that people still exist who like reading stuff, and don’t mouth the words as they’re doing so.

The Virgin iPad-only mag appears to be the first of this new breed of publications, the only one that is iPad-only to start. It's $2.99 per monthly edition, but the app description says content will be updated daily.

This model of pay-per-edition pubs is on its last legs as rumors swell of Apple's pending launch of in-app subscriptions, paving the way for publishers to offer on-going digital subscriptions. Until this happens, these apps like Wired, The New Yorker, and now Project, are saddled with this clumsy distribution model that seriously hampers their presentation. Still, Project is a beautiful publication -- you can tell they've put terrific development resources to it -- if slightly sluggish.

While the application chrome doesn't appear to come from Adobe's publishing tools, navigation certainly does (swipe up and down to view a single article stack, left and right to navigate between articles seems to have become the new norm in digital mag publishing). It'll be interesting to see if they rolled their own given the similarity to Adobe's solution; same inability to copy and paste, same content reflow on axis, yet strangely even more finicky behavior. I've been tapping all over the damned place to get the menu to come up to take me home, but that only appears to work when you tap the bottom margin, or from every third-odd page. Until it does work. Then it will continue working on every page, until it stops. And, even though Project is strictly digital, each article is adorned with printer's cut marks, which are weirdly out of place as a design choice if the intent is to push the medium forward. The right margin cut-mark is supposed to take me to Project forums, but that doesn't seem to be working for me.

Nice use of video throughout, though in some articles it's overdone. Images just start moving for no reason, which makes me think of the bloated file size these pubs are hitting.

Finally, there's just a touch too much lame iPad navel-gazing. Vladimir Putin's iPad app line-up, well, I can see where that would have been clever in an editorial meeting, but it's not doing anything to amp up the intelligence of the platform. It's all about the execution, I guess.

Oh, and one note on proofing: I typo all over the place. I even use "typo" as a verb. But I suppose I expect just a little more from my digital pubs. This too about 15 seconds of swiping to discover, from the sub-head of a piece on Kim Sung-il:

The Eternal President, despite dying of a heart attack in 1994. Weird fact: was always photographed from a certain angle, due to baseball-sized limp [sic] on his neck.

I'm just glad I don't have any limps on my neck.