Ironically, the last time I wrote on this topic, in an August 2007 post titled "Supporting Short Speculative Fiction," it was because the assistant editor of Realms of Fantasy had decided to start a subscription drive for short fiction magazines. A year and a half later, we can probably guess how well that worked.
So with the folding of Realms of Fantasy, writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who used to edit the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, sent out a similar plea which got picked up by ComicMix last Wednesday at Fight the downturn! Here's how... You can follow the link to read her letter, but the essence of her statement can be encapsulated in the first sentence: "If you’re really worried about the magazines, subscribe to them."
I'm not going to revisit the question of the economics of short fiction; those who are interested can go back to my November 2005 post Thoughts on the End of SCI FICTION and the Status of the Short Fiction Market. Instead, I'm going to add my own plea to the ones already out there, and note an interesting experiment being done by Apex Magazine.
First of all, as always, I remind people who like my stories to consider subscribing to Analog. Most of my stories have appeared there, including all the stories collected in I Remember the Future. If you like my stories, you'll like what you find in Analog. (And a shout out to fizzixrat, who has informed me that he is subscribing to Analog!)
Secondly, I want to boost the signal on a fascinating announcement made today by Apex Publications. Apex, which publishes my book, has been publishing Apex Magazine since 2005. It started as a print digest, and then in 2008 they moved it online as a free website. The website included all of the same fiction, but didn't have the same look and feel as the digest.
Well, for those readers who liked the digest and want to support the magazine, they've announced that starting with this month's issue, they are offering a PDF version of the magazine for those readers willing to pay for it. For $2 an issue, or $12 for an annual subscription, readers of Apex can received a PDF emailed to them which has the look of the original digest, including a cover and full-color art.
I like this idea a lot. Apex keeps their fiction available to readers on the Internet for free, but at the same time, they've created an appealing product for those readers who liked the digest. Furthermore, they're giving their readers the opportunity to show their support for the writers and artists, as they note that the money raised by selling the PDF is going to them.
I'm hoping that this business model works out, and helps stave off the death of short fiction markets that people keep predicting as we see one market after another vanish away. I have subscriptions already to Analog, Asimov's, and F&SF, and if you'll excuse me, I'm off to purchase one from Apex as well.