Have SF Magazines Had Their Day?


On reading “Brass Tacks” (Analog‘s letter column) I noticed one reader commented that he had taken out a subscription since retailers no longer seemed to stock the magazine.

This pretty much matches my own experience. Thirty years ago, the newsagents in large railway stations stocked SF magazines – mainly Analog, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and Fantasy & Science Fiction, though Amazing and Fantastic would appear occasionally. Now there are no SF magazines to be found. The fact that this also appears to be the case in the US would go a long way to explaining Analog‘s circulation decline. A quarter of a century ago, the magazine published 13 issues a year (as did IASFM) and the circulation peaked at 135,000. Now there are only 10 issues per year and the ciculation is under 35,000. I do not know the circulation figures for the other two magazines but I am aware that IASFM also has only 10 issues per year and F&SF has only 11.

With circulations this year, the magazines are heading towards non-viability. Moreover, by no longer appearing on nes-stands, they will not attract new readers so the prognosis appears to be one of terminal decline.

This is a great shame. Not only was the genre invented and developed in magazines but the magazines have always been a means for new writers to make a name for themselves. A first novel by a writer who had already published in the magazines would at least be assured of being read by someone who could say yes or no to publication. Given the dominance of the few remaining publishing-houses by bean counters who prefer sure things by established writers (or ghost-written for celebraties) it is virtually impossible for new writers to persuade an editor to take a risk on their books. If the magazinesgo, the one remaining means for new writers to get themselves noticed will be gone.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: