It’s not just books that are going digital—so are magazines about books. Shelf Unbound, a new publication set to launch in September in a digital-only format through the Zinio magazine platform for computer, iPad and other iOS devices, will cover small press books, authors, presses and trends, bringing the rich world of small, independent and university presses—many of which are only now making their books available digitally—to tech savvy readers.
Margaret Brown, the founder and publisher of Shelf, told PW that “The idea for Shelf was the convergence of a few things: my lifelong love of and career in magazines, an awareness of the breadth and depth and quality of books that do not make it onto the shelf of the big chain stores, and the delightful discovery of how mind-blowingly beautiful and exciting magazines are on the iPad.” Sample pages shown to PW are indeed richly designed and take advantage of the iPad’s beautiful display.
In a press release, Shelf editor Kathy Wise said, “Shelf is at its core about the joy of discovery. It is that feeling you get after spending an afternoon at an indie bookstore, reading first chapters and finding a mind-blowing new talent,as well as something new and unexpected from a writer you've loved for years.”
Shelf will be ad-supported. In the first six months, the magazine will run features on figures such as John Waters and Spike Lee, trends pieces on topics like gift books and books about life after Hurricane Katrina, and on vegetarian cooking and cocktails. There will also be regular features on indie booksellers as well as sample chapters from upcoming books.
Brown sees Shelf as part of a trend among independent publishers taking advantage of the shifts in reading brought on by the iPad and other digital readers: “The ability to publish and distribute digitally has already opened up a new world of opportunity for writers and independent publishers. Shelf will give readers a place to find, sample, and engage with the best of new offerings from small presses, university presses, and self-published authors.” Shelf is offering a free copy of its first issue to the first 10,000 who friend Shelf Mag on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.