McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern is a quarterly literary magazine started by Dave Eggers, originally with the goal of publishing stories of high literary merit that were rejected by other magazines. Eventually, it turned into a mixture of rejects and original submissions and Eggers made sure that every issue was different from the last — one issue came looking like a big stack of mail, for example. Another issue was nothing but graphic art and came wrapped in a giant newspaper comic section with original Sunday Funnies.
McSweeney’s eventually also expanded to a web site, with many features that could not be found in the magazine. Regular columns sprouted up, such as the Lists column or the Dispatches series, with people reporting from all over the world.
Last year, the magazine took a bold step forward online with the release of the Small Chair, an iPhone application that combines some of the best qualities from the online and print magazines – now numbering a handful.
There is no way to avoid paying for the Small Chair application but what your five dollars brings you is six months of regular updates from the web site and weekly updates that could be anything from an article that is only available in one of the magazines to an audio interview or a video that is specially made for Small Chair.
Within the application there are settings to tailor the virtual magazine to your liking. You can choose to keep articles for longer or not, along with a reminder of how long you have left on your subscription. There is also a simple section where you can renew your subscription for another $4.99.
The content section of the application is split up into two sections: the Small Chair section, and the Internet Tendency section.
The former is full of all of the things that can only be gotten through the subscription itself, whereas the latter is what one can find on the web site itself.
Of course, it bears mentioning that the application automatically downloads the content, and that one need not have an internet connection to read articles that have been downloaded already.
Doing a little math, one can see that if one gets half a year from the subscription, that means that one gets about twenty-six Small Chair updates during the course of the subscription. That also means that one is getting each Small Chair update for less than a quarter. Well worth it, I think. The best thing is that your initial investment is only five dollars — a good price for half a year of good reading.