A team of magazine-industry veterans has joined forces at a new startup, Nomad Editions, to create a portfolio of online magazines made specifically for mobile devices.

The New York-based company, which counts former executives at Newsweek, Readers Digest, and Hachette Filipacchi among its supporters,  plans to launch the first four of its weekly magazines in October.

The publications focus on food, surfing, movies, and video. Each one features about six original articles and takes about 20-30 minutes to read. Users will pay $24 for a 52-week subscription, or can purchase just three months if they wish.

Why create fresh content under new brands when there are so many familiar ones? Nomad Chief Executive Officer Mark Edmiston argues that mobile versions of many print magazines are awkward.

“When TV first came out, one of the things people tried to do was put radio shows on television,” Edmiston said. “Well that didn’t work. TV evolved into a different type of medium — and that’s what we’re doing. Magazines aren’t dead. They’re evolving. They will look a little different and have a different business model. But we will still be reading them 15 years from now.”

Software called Treesaver allows the magazine pages to fit appropriately onto the screen of whichever mobile device the consumer is using.

The publications will rely predominately on freelance writers and photographers, who will enjoy a portion of the profits from each edition. Edmiston, formerly Newsweek’s president, said freelancers get 30 percent of the revenue.

“We figured one of the best ways to get this thing off the ground is to get people enthusiastic. So we thought, ‘Why don’t we pay people according to what they’re willing to put in,'” said Edmiston. “If any of these magazines are reasonably successful, a freelancer can really make out well. A writer could make around $50,000 a year if their work attracts 50,000 readers.”

Online content provider Demand Media also taps freelancers, but they do not make anywhere near that amount under that company’s business model.

About five freelancers should reap the windfall for each edition. “We’re planning on getting more of these magazines out there,” Edmiston said. “We may be starting with four, but we should have 16-25 publications out there by next year. They’ll include subjects like travel, personal finance or aviation. We don’t expect them to have a million circulation right way, but they’ll hit niche audiences that love each topic.”

Editors of the each publication will make about five percent of the profits from each edition plus a share of ad revenue.

The company’s advisory board includes Jack Kliger, the former head of Hachette Filipacchi, and Eric Schrier, former president of Reader’s Digest.

Nomad has raised $600,000 from angel investors.


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