Once Magazine was a monthly publication of long photo stories of international reporting. We published our first issue in August 2011 and a year later distributed our final installment. We covered cultural, political, and environmental topics, creating stories with images, short written essays, captions, infographics, videos, and audio clips. We shared all of our revenue with our contributors and took every chance to experiment with form, content, and precedent. It was a thrilling endeavor, but we have now moved on.

The following is the opening letter to our final issue, explaining the decision to cease publication:

For a year now, we’ve published Once. It has been an inspiring run, and we tell you with some sadness, a bit of fatigue, but mostly pride in the work we’ve done, that this is our final issue.

We’ve come to this decision for many reasons, not least of which is a lack of funding. Maybe it’s because we didn’t begin with enough seed money; perhaps our price point was too low; we probably should have built in more revenue streams from the beginning. Underlying all the what-ifs is the undeniable fact that we were never in it for the money. From the beginning, we were a team of editors inspired by the fast- changing landscape of publishing, photography and journalism, and dedicated to producing excellent editorial content.

Whether or not our editorial commitment came at the expense of the company is hard to say. We certainly did what we could to run a successful business and our inadequate revenue is only part of the story. We learned that change happens fast in the high tech world (when we launched, Newsstand didn’t even exist), and in some ways we couldn’t keep up: staying near the top of the tech pile is both exhausting and expensive.

But we are proud to have made a mark in some small way, and can’t wait to see who, and what, comes next.

Before we go, we must extend a deep, heartfelt thanks. To our photographers and writers who took a chance with us before we had anything to show for ourselves. To the hundreds of advisors, designers, investors, tech engineers, web developers, and gallery owners who all lent a hand. To our friends and family for their unwavering support. And most of all to our staff, who gave their time and endless energy to make something they could stand behind—to all our editors, fact-checkers, managers, and proofreaders. Thank you.

And if any entrepreneurial crew setting off into the brave new world of digital publishing wants to know specifics of our successes and failures—give us a call; we’ve got stories to tell. For now, we can offer one bit of advice: don’t blink, this moment only happens once.

Thank you,
Once Editors


Can I see past issues of Once?

Yes. In the app store, you can download our Pilot Issue for free.

I had to restore my iPad and reload my apps. Now when I open Once it closes almost immediately. Is there anything I can do?

Unfortunately, no. One of the problems with a digital publication is that it must be constantly updated. While Apple’s software continues to evolve, we are no longer maintaining ours, which means that the app will grow less and less compatible with future software. Believe us, we’re not happy about this either, but there’s nothing we can do to prevent it.

I have the app, can I still purchase back issues?

Unfortunately, no. When we cancelled our subscriptions, we removed all the available issues from the store.

I accidently deleted or lost my issues, can I get them back?

Unfortunately, no. For the same reason that users are no longer able to purchase old issues, you will be unable to restore old purchases after you’ve deleted them. Again, this is an unforeseen consequence of creating a digital product on software with no real archive precedent. We deeply regret not having a better backup system in place.

Am I still being charged for my subscription?

No. After we released our final issue, we cancelled all subscriptions and removed the option from our app.

Is the existing app compatible with iOS 6 and above?

No. Since we are no longer maintaining our software, new technologies will surpass the current app's specifications. This is an unforeseen and saddening consequence of building something so dependent on software, but there's simply not much we can do about it.

What will happen to the app if I update my iPad to iOS 6?

Unfortunately, you will lose your purchased issues and will be unable to view the app. You will still be able to download our free issue in the app store, but your existing purchases will no longer be available. Again, we regret this situation as much as you do, but there's very little we can do.

What’s next?

A variety of things. You can keep in touch with our editors on Twitter or write to us at hello@oncemagazine.com.


Thank you to all those who helped bring Once into the world. Especially:

Clark Bernier • Matthew Canton • Alejandro Chavetta • Amrit Cheng • Scott Cohen • Michelle Dotter • Katie Eberle • Jenn Florin • Carter Gunn • Victoria Havlicek • Cassidy Hersey • Nick Hiebert • Laura Howard • Andrew Jones • Pete Kiehart • Timothy Kim • John Knight • Tatiana Kumeh • Douglas McGray • Zaineb Mohammed • Maddie Oatman • Jenny Odell • Chase Munson • Jaimie Stevenson • Gretchen Schrafft • Ben Shattuck • Jackson Solway • Spencer Strub • Daniel Toman • Helen Tseng • Indhira Rojas • Kate Schwartz • Christy Wiles • Taylor Wiles