I cashed in my credit card rewards last week to purchase an iPad Mini 2, and in the process of restoring a backup of my previous* iPad’s backup, I was surprised to see my Newsstand restoring content. Stuff from that period when iPad magazines were a thing. Are they still a thing? They’re still not a thing, right?

I want to say no. The Magazine didn’t make it into the new year, and nothing new has come to replace the small but sizeable niche it catered to. And besides my on-again-off-again subscription to the New Yorker, the Newsstand shelves of my iPad remain unchanged from how they were when I left them in 2012. Hard as I try, there seem to be no #hottakes on publishing platforms.

Surprise number 2 came around the moment I discovered that my subscription to Maura Magazine, one of the small publications I discovered back when iPad magazines were definitely a thing, was, contrary to all evidence, ready to resume with new content for me. Better still, its co-founding publisher and platform provider, 29th Street Publishing, has also been busy supporting a small but growing roster of impressive independent magazines with nicely laid-out, customer-like-you supported, iPad only apps with high-quality content.

Looking up 29th Street Publishing’s roster induces the same giddy excitement that washes over you while walking by a garage sale and noticing shoe boxes with “Magic: The Gathering” scribbled loosely in teenage sharpie script stacked beneath a fold out panic table. (Fine—my giddy excitement.) It’s full of great stuff.  Besides the aforementioned pop culture-commentating Maura Magazine, there’s a weekend edition of The Awl, issues of indie sports magazine The Classical, and ProPublica’s zine edition. There’s also the “book club in an app” Emily Books Reader, a magazine that actually might serve as case study for just how distinctive an iPad publication can be.

Other titles readers of Macgasm may be interested in:

  • Scratch: Features in-depth features, interviews, and personal stories about the economics of being a writer.
  • Bright Wall/Dark Room: A monthly film magazine focused on gathering personal and creative responses to films.
  • 1/100: 100 word stories paired to a single photograph.

Whatever excitement there used to be for Newsstand always lay in our vision for the ways it could provide a springboard for meaningful, in-depth, original, and subscriber-driven content. I’m probably not the only one who’d given up on that particular hobbyhorse, but I’m glad to have been proven wrong stumbling upon 29th’s website. I can always use more reasons not to give up on my iPad.

* I don’t upgrade iPads. I break up with them and then start all over with them, like finding new relationship with the same person I know 2 months from now the honeymoon pictures are going to be lost somewhere in a pile of boxes I collect my grocery plastic bags on top of. [back to the story…]