I wish I could say that I was surprised, but sadly I was not. Earlier today, notes from publisher Warren Lapine and editors Shawna McCarthy and Douglas Cohen announced the end of Realms of Fantasy magazine. Lapine bought the magazine little more than a year ago with hopes of reviving it. Things did not work out as he had hoped.
There are likely many contributing factors this, not least of which, as Lapine himself notes, is the poor economy. I don’t know if they had embraced electronic publishing earlier on in their process and made a concerted effort to push into that realm, no pun intended, that things would have worked out better.
Given that Amazon recently announced their intention to sell Kindle Singles, I think the electronic medium is the way to go for short fiction. Much like how the MP3 has changed music (almost a retro slide into the single-buying days of music in the 1950s and 1960s), single-shot short stories might be just what readers are looking for. In my experience, the short story works wonderfully on an e-reader.
Will people be able to buy just a few articles or stories from a magazine? Will magazines even publish traditional “issues” in the future, or will they just release content as it’s ready and let their readers decide what they want to read? I have some thoughts and opinions on the subject, but I don’t know any more than the next person what might happen.
I always enjoyed reading Realms of Fantasy, and I will miss them. Unfortunately, I think it’s unlikely that someone will step in and save them again.
John Klima is the editor of the Hugo Award-winning Electric Velocipede, a print magazine. He watches the developments of electronic publishing and short fiction with a keen interest.