Two book companies from different ends of the spectrum are now using magazines to promote themselves. The 168-year-old book publisher, Scribner, and Oyster, the buzzy Netflix-for-books startup, each launched content marketing efforts in the form of digital literary magazines this week.
The former’s is actually a relaunch, of sorts—the original Scribner’s Magazine was published from 1887 until 1939. Its new iteration, Scribner Magazine, will be getting digital-only treatment though, publishing criticism, reviews and essays on a weekly basis instead of original fiction and nonfiction works in a monthly print magazine, like its predecessor.
"What do you read? How do you write? What’s the origin of the book?…We’re trying to respond to that appetite," Nan Graham, the company’s SVP and publisher, tells the Wall Street Journal. "I’ve wanted to do something with the old Scribner’s Magazine for a long time because it was such an important part of the culture."
Oyster is going in a similar direction with the launch of The Oyster Review. The company, which lets readers pick from a digital library of 500,000 titles for a monthly fee, hired Kevin Nguyen, a former books editor for Amazon, as editorial director for the project in September. Like Scribner, Nguyen and his team will be offering up criticism, culture, essays and other content about books.
In line with its tech roots, Oyster’s magazine is building in calls-to-action and personalization features alongside its content.
"Kevin will lead new editorial initiatives and build out a new content brand uniquely developed for our product and readers," Willem Van Lancker, Oyster’s chief product officer, wrote at the time of Nguyen’s hiring. "We believe the best product lies in the pairing of high-quality editorial with our work in personalization, data science, and design."
Literary criticism is a crowded space, but with each site focusing on unpacking its own offerings—Scribner will primarily cover authors and books published by Scribner; The Oyster Review will write about books available through its parent company’s service—advertising and scale aren’t necessarily the goals.
Instead, Scribner and Oyster are investing in themselves, using magazines as additional entry points for potential consumers—probably a good place to start with book nerds.