Scarab, the first literary magazine for the iPhone, now available in the AppStore
Scarab combines the intimacy of reading with the thrill of being read to by your favorite author.Taking full advantage of the iPhone’s capabilities, Scarab plays a recording of a poem, essay, or short story as the reader scrolls along with the text. Beta-testers found the experience to be an,“Ingenious concept that brought the poems to life.”
Each edition of Scarab consists of 11 works of poetry or prose, and an interview with a respected author. The content of the first issue is even more stunning than the use of the new medium. Scarab offers work by former Poet Laureate Charles Simic, National Book Critics Award Finalist Tony Hoagland, David Rivard—recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship—and Chase Twichell, dinner of the Hugh Ogden Prize for Poetry. There is also work by exciting new writers MRB Chelko, Hannah Gamble, and David Blair.
The application is available through iTunes for $0.99 in the US, and makes use of the iPhone 3.0 SDK’s new “in app purchasing”. The editions of Scarab are purchased and downloaded directly in the application to your iPhone or iPod Touch for $2.99 or a similar price worldwide.
After I posted this excerpt, I downloaded the software, paying the $0.99 one-time charge for the app and $2.99 price for the first edition. It's a good product. Since I listen to a lot of poetry podcasts, this feels like the next new thing for journals.
I like the idea of audio and text on my phone. I like reading the poem with the scroll screen while hearing the poet's voice. It's easy to use, and I enjoyed hearing poems by Charles Simic, Jennifer Flescher, and Chase Twichell. And, there's something about Tony Hoagland's voice that makes me believe him no matter what he says.
What I'm not sure about is whether or not I'd pay $2.99 to download new issues. I like the software, but with so many free podcasts and online journals, it's hard to justify paying for this. But, I do believe in supporting journals in whatever form they take. We'll see if the next issue is as good as the first.
Also, I find the sound quality inconsistent. One poet may sound clear as a bell, while the next one sounds as if he/she has recorded their message over the phone. There may be no way around that issue. And the interview with David Rivard was text only. Since this is an audio product, I would have enjoyed the audio interview to accompany it.
Just to be clear, this is my opinion, not a review. You can find out more on the Scarab Web site.