Harper’s Embraces the Internet, Relaunches Website

harpers <EM>Harpers</EM> Embraces the Internet, Relaunches WebsiteHarper’s Magazine officially relaunched their website yesterday, despite publisher Rick MacArthur’s earlier public misgivings on the whole Internet thing.

“This redesign is overdue, we realize—a delay not in keeping with what was once a fairly distinguished digital reputation,” associate editor Jeremy Keehn wrote in a blog post last week. “Harper’s was one of the first magazines to build a website, way back in 1996.”

The new website will be more searchable and have more blog-like content. This is all part of a strategy to build up the venerable magazine’s online presence. Looks like the Internet is not the fad that publisher Mr. MacArthur predicted. As recently as last spring, Mr. MacArthur compared the threat of the Internet to the Xerox machine.

“The Internet, I told them, wasn’t much more than a gigantic Xerox machine (albeit with inhuman “memory”), and thus posed the same old threat to copyright and to the livelihoods of writers and publishers alike,” Mr. MacArthur wrote (in a blog post).

“I said that I wanted to publish a magazine filled with sentences, not build a tree house,” Mr. MacArthur recalled saying to someone talking about a “platform” in 2000.

But, alas, we all must succumb to these newfangled things at some point. But although some articles are free, there is still a subscription model. No need to give away the milk….

And there will be a comment section to provoke thoughtful and lively discussion.

“The hope is that the Commentary section on each page will provide a forum for passionate, intelligent discussion about culture, politics, and writing. If it turns out otherwise, we’ll reconsider. Please be cool.”

Be cool, guys. Be cool. Any problems? Tweet @Harpers.