Realms of Fantasy recently launched its first, as they call it, “real” website. There’s a nice amount of content on the site for people to explore; there’s everything from covers to fiction to blogging from the editorial staff.
Also, as part of getting an up-to-date website for the magazine, they are offering the current issue (that’s February 2010, which hit newsstands in December 2009) as a downloadable PDF! So if you’ve been curious about the magazine, but never picked it up, here’s your chance to see what they’re doing. I wouldn’t pass on this deal if I were you. Update: while the link was working, the offer was only intended for 2009. Sorry about that!
I think it’s great that Realms of Fantasy has gone ahead and made a website that gives their readers a chance to interact with them. I don’t know what they expected of that, and some of the comments are less than charitable. But that’s what happens when you let people talk. Some people will say things you don’t like.
I, for one, wish they had done something to make their site stand out from other genre fiction sites. The new Realms of Fantasy site is eerily reminiscent of the Night Shade Books site, and even compares to places like Tor Books, Prime Books, Fantasy Magazine, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Sense Five Press. Yes, the name-across-the-top, links-under-the-name, three-column design is easy to read and fairly standard. And maybe it’s just due to the fact that a lot of these sites are based on or run in WordPress that’s causes them to look similar. Still, it would be nice to be looking at the Realms of Fantasy website and know that’s the site I’m looking at without having to refer to the URL.
It’s not unheard of for publishers to use (oh, just say copy, what are you afraid of?) what someone else has done to their advantage. I mean, got a book you feel will appeal to Jim Butcher fans? Design it to look like a Jim Butcher book. Got a big, fat fantasy series that Robert Jordan fans will enjoy while they wait for the next book? Get Darrell K. Sweet to do a cover for you. It’s smart business.
That’s probably not the case here. I don’t know that Realms of Fantasy set out to copy someone else’s website. But I can’t help but make the comparisons when I see it, and I find that distracting.
John Klima is the editor of the Hugo Award-winning zine Electric Velocipede.