Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fantasy Magazine's "relaunch"

I just posted this on a forum for a crit group I'm part of, and then decided I might as well post it here as well:

I saw this news on Ralan's yesterday--there's a .pdf news release, if you missed it. Any thoughts on this? JJA has tons of experience, and I even met him at World Con two years ago, and he's a nice guy. The consistency between the two zines makes sense in a lot of ways.

At the same time, I've had encouraging comments from Cat Rambo in the past, so I'll be sad to see her leaving. And with two reprints a month, this essentially cuts in half the number of stories they'll be buying (which is a big disappointment). But it also sounds like a big change in style/format: instead of a blog, with an unpredictable but pretty frequent number of posts (articles, reviews, interviews, etc.) each week, it sounds like it'll be going back to a more issue-based magazine, with a set (rigid) schedule.

If you asked me a couple of years ago, I'd have said that the blog-based set-up is the future of online magazines, or at least the most likely way to succeed. Cultivate a regular readership, have them come back frequently--ideally every day/weekday, make them feel involved in the community of its readers. Originally Fantasy was more regular with its daily posts, and recently has dropped back to only about three a week (their once-weekly "Blog for a Beer" hasn't appeared in at least a year, I'd guess), so maybe that was just too much work for the editors. Even as infrequently as I commented, though, I did feel more invested in it than I am in some of the other online zines I read. When I visit Lightspeed or even my other favorites, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, etc. much as I obviously enjoy them all, I feel less like a participant and more like a consumer. (The blog model is essentially what Tor.com does...with, I'm sure, a much larger staff and resources...)

Maybe that's OK. Maybe the participant model was flawed--too much work, too little return. Maybe the rise of e-readers means a more issue-based format makes more sense. Or maybe this won't be as drastic a change as it appears in the release. I don't know. This announcement doesn't make me worried about Fantasy's future or anything, but it still makes me sad to see it seemingly abandoning what I had once thought was an exciting new approach.

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