Forget Subscribing, Are You Even Reading Short Fiction?

So yesterday I asked people how many print genre magazines they subscribed to. The response, both in the comments and via the poll on my blog, indicate that most of you don’t subscribe to very many magazines. Considering that for many years running, subscription numbers have been dropping, which leads to people crying out about the death of short fiction, it’s not surprising that few of you are subscribers anywhere.

For my part, subscription numbers have been growing, but my numbers are small enough to be inconsequential in the larger scheme of genre magazine publishing. And even with the growing subscription base, it’s just barely keeping up with my increasing costs. Every year that I’ve published Electric Velocipede (that’s the cover for the new issue on the left) has seen an increase in shipping costs. This year I’ve seen an increase of about 65% over last year in printing costs, and it’s an increase of 100% from two years ago.

For me, gaining 20 – 30 new subscribers makes a big difference. For the Big Three science fiction magazines (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction), 20 – 30 subscribers won’t make a noticeable impact. Sure, they wouldn’t turn them away, but . . .

On the same token, interest in online fiction is growing steadily. There are several online markets that pay professional rates. These same markets are garnering much the same interest from year’s best anthologies as the larger newsstand magazines in terms of reprints and honorable mentions. The print magazines still hold an edge, but you have to consider that of the Big Three, Asimov’s is the youngest publication at 31 years of age.

By contrast, high profile online markets like Strange Horizons or Clarkesworld Magazine have only been around since 2000 and 2006 respectively. The highest profile online market, Sci Fiction (the fiction won three Nebula Awards, a Theodore Sturgeon award, and editor Ellen Datlow won the Best Editor Hugo twice), was closed in 2005 by its parent company. Also, I think I need to make mention that Tor.com should become a force in the online fiction market.

I’d rather read short fiction than novels any day. But that makes sense considering that I publish a magazine and edit anthologies. What about you? Do you read short fiction? Do you like it?

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