Instapaper founder Marco Arment launches magazine on iTunes

After breaking new media ground with products like Tumblr and Instapaper, Marco Arment is turning his attention to a more conventional publishing format — the magazine.

Launching today in iTunes, Arment’s “The Magazine” will showcase top technology writers and ideas, offering four articles every two weeks. The first edition will cover topics like tech writer John Gruber ‘sblog format, geeks and sports and people’s relationship with technology, according to screenshots in iTunes.

To view the Magazine’s Table of Contents requires users to download a 7-day free trial which then turns into an auto-renewal at $1.99. The app is only available to iOS6 subscribers which means those of of us waiting out Maps-Gate will have to hold off. Fortunately, my colleague Erica Ogg was able to procure a screenshot:

In the forward, Arment explores how a legacy concept of a “magazine” should apply in the world of digital publishing and notes that many iPad magazines are carrying unnecessary and expensive baggage from their print days. He invokes comedian Louis C.K. as an inspiration for breaking from conventional distribution models: “Usually, things are done the way they’re done for good reasons. But sometimes, they’re only done that way because nobody has questioned it recently.”

Arment also offers a refreshingly frank summary of his business plan: “My biggest fixed cost is the up-front design and development of the app, and my biggest recurring cost is paying writers. If it doesn’t turn a profit within two months — just four issues — I’ll shut it down.”

The launch also coincides with a newfound interest in long form journalism by web publications, like BuzzFeed and SB Nation, which typically rely on short, snappy formats.

From a strategic point of view, Arment’s new magazine ambitions would seem to be a good complement to Instapaper — his service that lets readers clip long articles they find on the web and collect to read later in a different place or platform.