Open Letters is a new magazine of first-person writing in the form of personal correspondence.
But its something else, too: its an ongoing, evolving experiment in content delivery via the Internet.
So far, most attempts to deliver writing and reporting via the Internet have relied on the web as a means of distribution. And understandably so: the web is remarkably good at certain things its accessible to a broad audience, its easy to post information quickly and update it constantly, and there are those links.
Its arguably not such a good distribution model, though, for actual writing: for a complex story, for a subtle argument, for an unusual voice. All of which are things that Open Letters wants to deliver to its readers.
The fact is, reading on the web or at least reading anything longer than a few hundred words just isnt that pleasant an activity. And yet the Internet seems like a tremendous opportunity to deliver great writing to a far-flung readership. This is precisely the paradox that has burned up hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital over the last few years. And still the question remains: how can this cool tool be used to distribute information with a little depth, with a little soul?
So heres our first stab at an answer: Weve created an alternate distribution model for Open Letters, one thats less like a web site and more like a weekly magazine thats delivered in the mail.
Every Saturday, our fleet of designers creates a little magazine, ten to fifteen pages long, out of everything weve published that week. It actually looks like a magazine: it has a cover, and a table of contents, and page numbers and headlines and different fonts and margins: all of those elements of page design that make reading a pleasure all of which are hard if not impossible to deliver on the web. We turn it into a PDF file and email it to our subscribers, who then have a nice-looking magazine that they can read on their computer screen, using Adobe's Acrobat reader (which, if you dont already have it, you can download, for free, from here).
If you'd like to take a look at a copy of the weekly, you can download one of our back issues from this list.
Some of our weekly subscribers read the magazine right on their computer screen. Most, though, print it out and carry it around. We encourage this practice. This idea might seem a trifle Luddite the web was supposed to be about the paperless future, after all but we like to consider Open Letters Weekly not as a new kind of web magazine, but a new kind of print magazine: were publishing a weekly, on paper, just like our friends at, say, People, but were eliminating all of the most expensive and time-consuming elements of the magazine-publishing process color separating, printing, binding, shipping, retailing and putting them in the hands of you, the reader, with your printer and your stapler.
Like we said above, this is an experiment, and its one that wed like to invite you to take part in. We plan, over the next few months, to try all sorts of different models: delivery via ascii email, delivery to ebook readers, delivery to palm pilots, you name it.
For now, wed like to invite you to subscribe to the weekly edition of Open Letters by clicking on "subscribe," below, or by sending a blank email to email@example.com. Youll get the weekly delivered to you via email every Sunday morning as a PDF, for free. (It wont be too big well shoot for 250 K or so.) Youll get a cool weekly magazine, and youll also be a part of a gigantic experiment in the future of content delivery. And, we hope, an active part: Were going to depend heavily on subscribers for their reactions to and reflections on these different delivery experiments.
Two more things: First, please email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and ideas on the magazine on specific letters, on the whole idea, and on the delivery question.
And, second, please sign up not only for the weekly magazine, but also for a daily reminder that well send you, just a paragraph or two telling you about each days letter, with a url to click on if it seems interesting. To get the daily reminder, send a blank email to email@example.com.
Thanks for reading.