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    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2011
     (9758.21)
    So, instead of editorial philosophy and curation, you'd pay a lump sum to have a publisher stick a tube down your throat.

    An apt analogy if all Orbit, in this hypothetical, is doing is just going "Oh, this one, sure, this one for June." but that makes the assumption that Orbit wouldn't put short stories through similar selection processes as print magazines when deciding what to put out there.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2011
     (9758.22)
    Games Workshop have been experimenting with this with their Black Library imprint.

    They offer all their new books as epub and mobi downloads now (direct from them, not via Amazon itself), and they have a monthly short story anthology delivered only as an ebook that's been going for about 6 months now. They seem to be using it to test new authors out, as well as have shorts from their 'star' writers like Dan Abnett.
  1.  (9758.23)
    So, instead of editorial philosophy and curation, you'd pay a lump sum to have a publisher stick a tube down your throat.


    By "we" I actually meant "the market" or "society".

    A smart publisher would ask well known writers, critics, and readers/bloggers to curate sections of their online storefront, or reccomend certain stories or up and coming authors, there would always still be space for independent blogs and sites to round up various stories from various storefronts as well.

    Plenty of people (me included) would be happy to just subscribe to a publisher like Orbit for the right price, and certainly to have access to buy individual works through micropayments.

    That's not to say there won't always be micro markets and global niches for e-anthologies and print magazines but I can't see them being longterm fixtures or reaching massive audiences, despite being an avid consumer of such things myself.
  2.  (9758.24)
    but that makes the assumption that Orbit wouldn't put short stories through similar selection processes as print magazines when deciding what to put out there.

    I'm playing devil's advocate a bit, sure. But Orbit want to sell you books. I don't think it's a stretch -- well, not a huge stretch -- to assume marketing's going to play a strong role here.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2011
     (9758.25)
    I'm playing devil's advocate a bit, sure. But Orbit want to sell you books. I don't think it's a stretch -- well, not a huge stretch -- to assume marketing's going to play a strong role here.

    True, but that then gets down to the question of "Who's in marketing?", right? If you have people who have a sense for short fiction, or enough sense to know that they don't have the sense for short fiction and they should get someone who does, then it could go really well or it could turn into a feeding tube as you say where they pump out whatever they feel like regardless of editorial content/quality because the marketing monsters simply don't get it.

    One positive example (IMO) is Tor.com. While I don't think they're necessarily setting up their website to have a particular focus of genre or theme, I do think they provide quality short fiction that does what it's supposed to: help provide some focus for Tor authors.
  3.  (9758.26)
    Also of interest?

    So. Twelve issues in, how’s the (WIRED magazine) app performing on the business side? Conde won’t share many details; Wired publisher Howard Mittman says that monthly download totals have settled into the 20,000 to 30,000 range. That’s down considerably from the first issue, which racked up more than 100,000 downloads, but not surprising.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2011
     (9758.27)
    Now is that downloads of the app or download of the magazine through the app? If it's just the app that would make some sense; once you have the app you don't need to download it again unless your device gets wiped or you replace it. If it's that's downloads of the magazine through the app I wonder how that compares to regular subscription rates of early first adopters bowing out when they decide the publication isn't for them.
  4.  (9758.28)
    I believe they mean in-app purchases.
    • CommentAuthorEmperor
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2011 edited
     (9758.29)
    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.


    Indeed. I'm sure, with the right publicity, you could start an anthology of short genre fiction as a Kindle eBook and sell enough copies to get a few quid back to the authors. However, you need something extra to make writers want to contribute and readers to look forward to the next edition, otherwise people are just going to forget about it after the initial burst of publicity. I want to be so excited by the idea of it that I break into the editor's house and sit on the end of their bed reading the next issue on their laptop while they sleep on, unaware, just feet away (unaware unless I punch them for dropping the ball).

    It might be asking a little too much (especially, the bit about inspiring my to try a bit of breaking and entering) but it can be done with either a visionary editor and/or what would amount to a manifesto, a statement of intent (which would, hopefully, involve forgetting about genre divisions and not giving a shit what anyone else thought), so you could spot talent and give them the kind of space they need to play in to create their work. You can see the impact of a good editor of an anthology in, for example, Steve MacManus, who was able to spot potential and give them nudges in the right direction - he was the editor of 2000AD in its Golden Age and helped bring in an awful lot of the big names that would emerge from that era. So, someone like China Mieville might be ideal to get on board as he has a very clear vision for what he wants and isn't worried about trying new things. The Vandermeers have been doing good work with their anthologies - I remember reading their The New Weird and finishing Alistair Rennie's "The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines" (the only original story in there) and thinking I'd like to see more of this, not that in the story or genre but just in the way he went for it (and I'm not the only one to think that, it is a pity that, after some interest in him, it has all gone quiet from his corner, apart from a brief appearance in Electric Velocipede).

    So it is possible, but you'd need the right team behind it, with their own vision of what they want. With some luck, and the stars aligning just right, it could become a great success. However, it isn't something you could just cobble together - you'd need all the right people in the right place, with the right amount of drinks and perhaps the magic might happen. If it did you could put me down for a years subscription right now.
  5.  (9758.30)
    I just noticed that GRANTA is available on Kindle, by the way...

    (looking at a sample of the new issue on the Kindle right now. Surprisingly Not Horrible.)
  6.  (9758.31)
    The old style of GRANTA cover would look fine on a Kindle, too:

  7.  (9758.32)
    However the current issue of Granta's cover wouldn't work so well on the kindle, since it's a beautiful foiled cover. Also I doubt the photo essays work quite as well on the Kindle.

    Edit: However the written content more than makes up for this.
  8.  (9758.33)
    Just a personal view: I've been subscribing to Black Static for a year now in a paper form, and I have to say that I haven't read a single issue through, only because the damn paper things are never available when I'm in a mood to read a short story or two. At the same time I keep wolfing down novels on the Kindle. I would love to get more short fiction magazines with clear statements, editorial control and an identity that would acts as a sort of "stamp of quality" for the contents - and get them on my Kindle as easily as I can buy a book on it, or at least without going through that many more hoops.

    Definitely going to have a look at the stuff mentioned in this thread.
  9.  (9758.34)
    However the current issue of Granta's cover wouldn't work so well on the kindle, since it's a beautiful foiled cover. Also I doubt the photo essays work quite as well on the Kindle.

    All true, but then, it's a print object, not optimised for the Kindle. Though the current cover doesn't look horrible. I'm just saying, the kind of design aesthetic as suggested by the above would be an interesting way to go for a Kindle-distrib magazine.

    Something like Clarkesworld, but designed specifically for Kindle, would be an interesting proposition too.

    (I find Clarkesworld in general to be an interesting model for an online fiction magazine)

    ASIMOV'S sells more Kindle editions than INTERZONE sells print copies.
  10.  (9758.35)
    What I like about Clarkesworld is the infrequency. Two stories and two pieces of non-fiction a month, and no more. It's a pace that respects the audiences attention span.
  11.  (9758.36)
    One potential problem (for customers) of running a magazine on Kindle:

    Consider this to be your dismaying PSA of the day: Apparently, if you're a Kindle owner with a magazine subscription, and you decide to stop subscribing, the back issues you previously downloaded are also lost—for good.


    (source: http://ca.gizmodo.com/5793334/when-you-cancel-your-magazine-subscription-on-your-kindle-your-back-issues-disappear-too)
  12.  (9758.37)
    Yes, that's a problem, but that's really no different to paying to get through the Times pay-wall.
  13.  (9758.38)
    Yes, that's a problem, but that's really no different to paying to get through the Times pay-wall.


    I think it's different (at least to me): a newspaper is a very transitory thing - it's not something I'd re-read a month or a year later, whereas a magazine full of fiction is something I'd want to go back to.
  14.  (9758.39)
    What I like about Clarkesworld is the infrequency. Two stories and two pieces of non-fiction a month, and no more. It's a pace that respects the audiences attention span.


    Yes, me too.

    Apparently, if you're a Kindle owner with a magazine subscription, and you decide to stop subscribing, the back issues you previously downloaded are also lost—for good.

    Wow, that's retarded. I really want to know who, if anyone, insisted on that (non)functionality.
  15.  (9758.40)
    The solution would seem to be to avoid Amazon's Kindle store. There's some info in the middle of this article which explains how you can import MOBI files (which are Kindle compatible) onto a Kindle without going through Amazon.

    If someone could streamline the process and integrate online payment (e.g. online subscription payment which includes entering the unique "[you]@kindle.com" your Kindle is set up with, and have the new issues emailed to your Kindle on publication - doesn't sound to difficult for a developer to automate) then you bypass the Kindle Store completely (which seems to be the part of the equation that deletes your back issues on unsubscription).

    EDIT: Avoiding the Kindle Store itself would also mean you're not constrained by Amazon's pricing model, and you don't need to let Amazon take a cut.