Random House of Canada has launched Hazlitt, a new online magazine that's part of the publisher's revamped digital strategy. This is no Fox News Magazine: Features include Emily Landau on "Rakoff and Hitchens on Death, with Nothing Afterward," and Sarah Nicole Prickett writing on ambivalence on motherhood, as well as "How to Succeed in Journalism when You Can't Afford an Internship" by Alexandra Kimball, an essay on house-sitting for Sheila Heti, and a formerly out-of-print article by Christopher Hitchens on Andy Warhol. Note: Lots of female contributors, here; also, plenty of commissioned art and design panache. As The National Post's Mark Medley explains, Hazlitt Editor-in-Chief Christopher Frey "described the magazine, named after the 19th century critic and journalist William Hazlitt, as 'absurdly eclectic' and 'writer-centric.'" Hazlitt Originals, a side effort, will offer a line of e-books.
Here's what we learn from the site's About page: "Hazlitt is Random House of Canada’s new flagship digital habitat. It’s not just a homepage or marketing vehicle. In a way, Hazlitt is based on an old model of publishing—the publisher as trader in ideas. As more people read books electronically, and the entire cultural landscape shifts with the emergence of new media formats, publishers must seize the opportunities for innovation available to them." (In a similar vein of cool, magazine- or book-esque stuff online, check out the design of ESPN's feature on Dock Ellis, as well as, from another publishing house, Harper Perennial's Forty Stories project.)
It's not just publicity, it's quality content, a trend we applaud. As Medley writes, "[Company VP Robert] Wheaton promised that the magazine will have an 'independent editorial identity,' and will feature both writers and books from publishers other than Random House. Yet while there will be new content every day, the magazine will not feature book reviews, at least in the traditional sense."
There's lots of good reading fodder found in Hazlitt, but I think my favorite piece in thus far (perhaps for personal #sweatiquette reasons) is the excellently conceived article by writer Britt Harvey, advice columnists on giving advice. It features Cheryl Strayed, The Rumpus' Dear Sugar columnist and bestselling writer; Salon's Cary Tennis; Slate's Dear Prudence columnist, Emily Yoffe; and Lynn Coady, formerly of The Globe and Mail, brought together to "talk shop," and is an insightful look into the advice industry and its variances. At one point, Joffe says, "The pleasure of this conversation is these four very different people, doing the same job in their own very unique way. Which speaks to why people enjoy the form and come to it for different reasons. Although you might get a better insight from a therapist, I think the pleasure that people get from a well-crafted answer, that doesn’t just deal with the question but gives you pleasure to read. That’s the reason that we all enjoy this medium."
We look forward to more in this vein of publisher-provided free content. Hazlitt can be found here.