There I was, minding my own business, typing away in my stripped down, minimised Ulysses theme, when I noticed a DM on my twitter account. Almost certainly another once in a lifetime opportunity to earn millions from home, I thought. It turned out that Mihhail, the developer of Paper, had read my previous post on the app. He encouraged me to take another look.
Let’s get this out of the way right now.
“Out-of-the-box you get my vision of the perfect writing space for free, along with some basic tweaks like text size. More advanced personalization comes with a premium price tag. You won’t be buying anything blindly, though. The trial period for Pro Features is untimed, so you can take your time to decide if they are a worthy investment.”
Periodically, reminders pop up to let you know that you could subscribe, if you wanted to.
Pro features in the Mac App cost £4.49 per month or £48.99 per year. There’s a lifetime option too at £89.99. Prefer IOS? No problem. Same price. Again. The Mac App and the IOS App are payable separately.
Many object to paying for software. I don’t, but I do think carefully about how much I’m prepared to pay for the difference. I have Word for corporate stuff anyway. Byword is $10. Am I happy to pay a premium?
Potentially, £100 per year. That’s a boatload of money for a Markdown Editor. If price is an important factor, there are plenty of better options out there.
Let me quote from the website again.
“Great minimal writing apps are a rarety these days. No doubt, they start off minimal, but seem to lose their focus as time goes by. Bloat creeps in one feature at a time. Before you know it, what once was an amazing product for the few, is now a mess of toggles and panels aimed at pleasing a wider audience.”
When I open the (Mac) app, I get a blank page. Even the menu bar is sparse. It gets a little richer when option-clicked, but not a lot. This app is opinionated. Dieter Rams opinionated. Jonny Ive opinionated. If this app was Apple hardware, it would be the 12 inch MacBook. Ports? Pah!
In fairness, there is a fair amount of configurability under the hood, but it’s in much the same way as there’s a lot of stuff under the hood of my BMW. I know there’s a carburettor in there, but I would have no idea how to find it.
Paper creates good old Markdown files in my directory structure. Tiny, portable and private. Just how I like it. The app itself shows as 10 MB on disk. For reference, Microsoft Word is 2.45 GB.
Portable text files are lovely, but not necessarily very usable. Paper has all of the export options that I need, from rich text, to PDF to publishing directly to my website.
Developer on call
The second item on the main menu is “Chat with the Maker”, which I’m trying right now. I have a question about the mechanics of Preview mode. I’ve messaged at 18:47 on a Tuesday night. I’ll be interested to see when I might get a response, and how it comes through. I had a comprehensive answer within the hour. Mihhail is responsive and considered. That’s comforting.
In a distracted world, there is a purity to this app that is difficult to match in any other I have seen. At full screen there is literally nothing but my text and a cursor, on a blank white page before me. An opportunity for focus.
I love it.
Should you pay for it?
Only you can answer that.
Dieter Rams 606 Universal shelving can be purchased at Vitsoe.com. It’s awesome. Me? I went to Ikea. It’s not as good, but the principle is similar and the price less intimidating.
I’ll pay for the Mac App, as that’s where I do my writing. The IOS one? Probably not. My iPad is the mini, as is my iPhone and I don’t do much writing on either of them. I’m not sure I would get much value from an IOS subscription. If I were still using an iPad Pro - well, that would be a different matter.