Not signed in (Sign In)
    • CommentAuthorbuhbuhcuh
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2011 edited
     (9758.1)
    There is an opportunity for speculative fiction magazines in Ebooks, and as far as I can see, no one is taking advantage of it.

    The great Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazines of yore are slowly but surely dying off as subscription numbers drop and newsstand sales plummet. At the same time, inexpensive eBooks are taking off, as Kindle and Nook have hit critical mass, and "the right price" is being found.

    I think a magazine priced at $0.99 / 60p for a monthly collection of quality short fiction would be successful.

    The eInk greyscale display is not ideal for a lot of magazines - usually a format that uses a lot of illustration, but it would work really well for a magazine that publishes short fiction.

    Asimov's and Analog are currently publishing monthly eBooks to Kindle, but they are priced at $2.99/mo - more expensive than the paper magazines! Now, I don't know the particulars of those publication's costs - but printing ink on paper and mailing physical copies around the world has to cost more than publishing to Kindle.

    Also, there is no reason that you couldn't sell back issues - again, it's not a matter of publishing physical copies, you don't need to worry about the logistics that make carrying back issues so cumbersome, and fiction often ages well.

    Is anyone doing this? I've looked through the 91 magazines on the Kindle store, and I don't see anyone besides the examples above - which, as far as I can tell, means there is a wide open market. I mean, think about it - these people are reading books using Electronic Ink - how sci-fi is that?

    If I don't see it happen in the next 3 months, I'll take out a second mortgage on the family cat, and give it a shot.
  1.  (9758.2)
    ASIMOVs and ANALOG print for relative pennies. I believe the print editions are $3.99, and only get cheaper by subscription.
  2.  (9758.3)
    Asimov's for UK kindle is £1.99 a month. Which is really cheap considering that the last time I bought a comic from Marvel or DC is was over £2 for 22 pages.
    Plus the last issue was a double and had a load of content in. I think it's a fair price for what we get.
  3.  (9758.4)
    I believe that I have written about this before.

    There are a few. Clarkesworld do an ebook version IIRC. There's some other more general fiction magazines as well. Electric Literature is one good example. (I like their business model as well.) It isn't as simple case of saying there's a market so let's produce a magazine for it. For example, Salon Futura, a non-fiction magazine about science fiction, recently announced that it's stopping publication because no one's buying issues of it and it isn't sustaining itself.

    See also the fact that Alan Moore's magazine Dodgem Logic is ceasing publication because it isn't sustainable.

    There's also all the problems involved which are the same as launching a new independent comic like establishing brand. Also some extra issues such as submissions and editorial policy.

    Edit: I do think it a sustainable short fiction magazine is possible. I doubt it'll be just science fiction or just fantasy. It'll be something different. I suspect it'll have to be on par with the Mike Moorcock era of New Worlds in how revolutionary it appears to be if its to have any genuine success.
    • CommentAuthorbuhbuhcuh
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2011
     (9758.5)
    Hrmm, I guess before this gets too derailed: I agree that it is totally worth the money to subscribe to Asimov's or Analog on an eReader. There is evidence - mostly anecdotal at this point, that a lower price point for a eBook can help sales - check this thread: eBook success stories

    I wrote my first post in a very declaratory voice - I guess I should step back and ask: Is it reasonable to assume that there might be a place for these types of publications in the world of eBooks?

    I think that there is, and that there is an opportunity here to expose readers to new authors, make sure those authors get paid, and reverse the trend of the slowly failing short fiction magazine. I also believe that there is room in the market for more than just Asimov's and Analog, that it would be lower risk than a traditional print project, and that there are smart people on these forums that could maybe make it happen.
  4.  (9758.6)
    "I think that there is, and that there is an opportunity here to expose readers to new authors, make sure those authors get paid, and reverse the trend of the slowly failing short fiction magazine."

    I'm afraid you fall into the trap here that people have been falling into since the anthology was invented:

    No-one gives a fuck about new authors.

    90% of the audience gives a fuck about being exposed to new authors.

    If you're going to run a sf magazine, on any platform, then it needs to be run as a business as well as an ideological tool.

    I still believe a short fiction magazine is completely sustainable. I believe it'd work in the NEW WORLDS space -- which in the 80s we called postmodern, in the 90s we called slipstream, and in the 00s was called New Weird and any number of other fucking things.
  5.  (9758.7)
    (interesting this should come up now, when the "boutique" magazine space is opening up again, with publications from FIRE & KNIVES to PORT getting people talking -- both of which clearly follow COILHOUSE's footsteps in the "print fetishism" trail)
    •  
      CommentAuthorAriana
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2011
     (9758.8)
    No-one gives a fuck about new authors.
    Haha, you could also have mentioned the other trap -- that people have been *setting* since the anthology was invented:

    New authors can very often be convinced that getting that magical exposure is worth *not getting paid.*

    Which, of course, is why the anthology probably *was* invented.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2011
     (9758.9)
    New authors can very often be convinced that getting that magical exposure is worth *not getting paid.*

    I don't know what's more insulting, being offered to be paid fractions of a cent per word (or the anthology that offered to pay $5 for a 3k minimum manuscript) or being fed the "exposure" line.
  6.  (9758.10)
    One last thought, Ben: you know some magazines bypass the Kindle Store to get their mags on to your Kindle?
  7.  (9758.11)
    New authors can very often be convinced that getting that magical exposure is worth *not getting paid.*

    God, yeah. That too.
    • CommentAuthorbuhbuhcuh
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2011
     (9758.12)
    One last thought, Ben: you know some magazines bypass the Kindle Store to get their mags on to your Kindle?

    I know kindle can read pdf, and a few other eBook formats. I'm not clear on how delivery works in that case - but I suppose it only costs me $2 to find out!
  8.  (9758.13)
    With LOCUS, I buy my subscription through Paypal, and once a month they send me a link to a user/pass locked page, from which I download the Kindle-suitable format to my computer, and then email it to my Kindle.
    •  
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2011 edited
     (9758.14)
    Magazines as a unit of printed text have passed (gloriously) into the west with Coilhouse. In my humble.

    "E-book" is a hilariously clumsy neologism for a rudimentary, needlessly atavistic form of media whose potential we haven't really begun to explore.

    The whole burst culture idea makes a lot more sense to me as a way to package short SF than any kind of print doc ever will again.
    • CommentAuthorEmperor
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2011 edited
     (9758.15)
    Space Squid offer a limited run of their print magazine but you can also download a PDF of the magazine for free. They have had high profile writers contribute stories, like Bruce Sterling and Jay Lake, but also have room for newer writers. You do probably need the big names to go on point and get the readers in, so you can then expose them to up-and-coming writers, but it is also going to be tricky getting those Big Names in if you aren't offering much money.

    I do agree that a lower price point would be important for a less established magazine as $0.99 does seem a sweet point for people taking a punt on a title.
  9.  (9758.16)
    Lightspeed Magazine is another sci-fi short fiction e-book anthology. It's edited by John Joseph Adams, who seems to be as ubiquitous a sci-fi editor as any other these days, and features new and reprint material. They actually post the entire content of each issue online throughout the month, but offer the complete content at the 1st of the month as a 2.99 ebook download.
  10.  (9758.17)
    I don't think we need anthologies with ebooks or the internet, readers could just download short stories using a micropayments system, or a subscription model. For instance Orbit or someone could have an online short story store which they promise to stick X amount of stories on each month, by X amount of new and established authors and in return I agree to pay X amount monthly to access all content.

    Or they just make stories of any length available via their store and readers decide which ones they want to buy thanks to blurbs, reviews, and recomendations or name recognition or whim and pay a given amount (probably graduated depending on length and reputation) for each story.

    Also maybe some or all short stories become free to download or access after X amount of time?
  11.  (9758.18)
    None of the magazines suggested are doing anything as remotely cohesive as New Worlds or even Coilhouse, which is putting itself out there with a pretty damn clear set of principles. (Locust is different, it'll always be a niche publication.) At best these sites are publishing a selection of short stories that amused the slush readers and editors enough to want to publish them. But they're not editorializing or defining themselves as anything other than magazines that publish a genre. They're certainly not self-aware in the same way that New Worlds and Cheap Truth were. There's this piece in Overland about the relationship between politics and the new wave which might offers some perspective on what might have gone missing.

    (Orbit are launching their digital story program this month. The major imprints have selected their business models already. It isn't about technology or platforms anymore, its about what they're selling and how their promoting it. That's what will determine their success.)
  12.  (9758.19)
    "At best these sites are publishing a selection of short stories that amused the slush readers and editors enough to want to publish them. But they're not editorializing or defining themselves as anything other than magazines that publish a genre. "

    This
  13.  (9758.20)
    Let me take another swing at this:

    speculative fiction magazines in Ebooks... I guess I should step back and ask: Is it reasonable to assume that there might be a place for these types of publications in the world of eBooks?

    I believe so. Kindle, in fact, tends to evoke for me the earlier days of sf magazine publishing (if not also small press!) due to being text-based, black and white, and only being able to handle relatively simple interior b/w illustration.

    iPad and iPhone... that's something else. There are other expectations on those platforms. You could stay inside Kindle For iPhone/iPad, sure -- although I note that my copies of LOCUS don't seem to sync to Kindle For iPhone. (Neither does the TLS, for some reason.) But anything specifically for iOS comes with the expectation that it will sing and dance, not just be a ported PDF. And it is, as I understand it, a fairly serious layout of cash as opposed to making something for Kindle.

    I don't think we need anthologies with ebooks or the internet, readers could just download short stories using a micropayments system, or a subscription model. For instance Orbit or someone could have an online short story store which they promise to stick X amount of stories on each month, by X amount of new and established authors and in return I agree to pay X amount monthly to access all content.

    So, instead of editorial philosophy and curation, you'd pay a lump sum to have a publisher stick a tube down your throat.