Friday, October 2, 2009

McSweeney's iphone Application

Just in from my email inbox: well, not from my email, it's now from the link to McSweeney's:
We hereby announce the debut of the Small Chair, a weekly selection from all branches of the McSweeney’s family. One week you might receive a story from the upcoming Quarterly, the next week an interview from the Believer, the next a short film from a future Wholphin. Occasionally, it might be a song, an art portfolio, who knows. This week we’ve got a new short film by Spike Jonze, starring the legendary Maurice Sendak with a story of life before the Wild Things were. Appearances by Jonathan Ames and Chris Ware will be following soon after. None of this material will be available online and it’s all pretty sure to be good stuff.
McSweeney's, of course, is already involved in an excellent quarterly, a magazine (the Believer), a series of DVD anthologies (Wholphin), and publishing well designed books. I am not an iphone person, although Caroline has one, and I can confirm that I have held it and even used it to call somebody once. I do have twenty-one issues of McSweeney's quarterly, and over a dozen of their books. Sooooo, if I had an iphone, I would probably purchase their application. Until then, I will have to resort to reading their publications either online or in bound and inked paper format.

This says something about the brand loyalty of McSweeney's customers (aside from saying that McSweeney's thinks/knows that enough of their customers have an iphone to make this worthwhile). Imagine a publishing corporation, say, Harper-Collins, creating an application. Who would care? Harper-Collins isn't searching out a market niche for brand recognition, they are mass market. They publish both Sarah Palin and Martin Heidegger. The only logic therein is capitalism (for a good book about that story, see Andre Schiffrin's The Business of Books). By contrast, it wouldn't surprise me to see other independent publishers try out developing applications. Imagine if this technology existed at the peak of Semiotext(e)'s popularity (which I hear was in the late 80s and early 90s), with people receiving clips of Baudrillard talking about simulacra and art or publishing his photographs, or Deleuze chain smoking. Just about as cool as finding rare copies of their pocket books, which (sign of the times?) are now being reissued in 6"x9" format.

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