03 August 2008

Electronic v. Print

Warren Ellis recently posted a blog entry on the ongoing debate about print v. electronic speculative fiction mags. His premise is that the circulation of print mags are declining because the print mags are not delivering what readers these days want. Instead, he believes, these mags continue to publish stories that appeal to a greying, diminishing readership.

He also asks a very interesting question about why electronic mags continue to get a bad wrap:
"That’s why so many people still look askance at the online scene as "not proper magazines." . . .  [There is a] bias, unspoken or otherwise, that a print magazine is a job of work and an online magazine can be thrown up by any drooling lunatic with access to the net and a credit card. A fanzine by any other name."

My take on this falls somewhere in the middle. Admittedly, lots of fly-by-night online spec fic mags come and go, leading to a broad brush negative image of all electronic zines. Whenever I talk to authors about this subject, I ask them to look at the zine's track record before submitting. Has the mag been around for a while? Has it consistently posted issues on deadline? Are the stories printed in the issues professionally presented and well edited, free of (most) typos and other errors? In short, it only takes a little digging to determine if a online mag is of the "drooling lunatic" variety or something that can fairly be compared to pro zines.

Still, I do find it frustrating that quality ezines get ignored while some print mags that publish infrequently and sporadically get recognized. As a personal example, I can't get the two reviewers at Locus to look at issue of Electric Spec even though they frequently review print mags that are difficult to find anywhere and few have heard of. If fact, those reviewers will not even respond to my e-mail requests. At Electric Spec, we respond to every e-mail we get, not just those we deem worthy. 

At Wordcon this week, we are going to be promoting Electric Spec, trying to get the word out about our great little zine. It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we get. I'll let you know . . .


Anonymous said...

I think this is a great post - and I'm glad you put it out. I read an article (on one of your competitor's websites) that delved into the trouble that some of the "big name" print mag's are having - for exactly the same reasons you just described. Their readers have changed and they haven't. Then there are other issues, like the fact that Barnes and Noble doesn't like stocking Analog, because its size is weird!

The market will dictate who survives and who doesn't. Right now my money is on formats like Strange Horizons, Electric Spec, Clarkesworld, etc.

I had no idea you were having troublee with getting Locus to review. Keep at it! In the end quality speaks for itself and this is a quality mag, with an AWESOME presentation. Maybe someone with clout will read your post and push them in the right direction. Please, please, please let us know how Worldcon goes!! WIsh I could be there...

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Times they are a-changin', though, because most times I mention I'm an editor with an ezine, people seem interested, not condescending.

WORLDCON: 4 days and ticking down!