Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The State of Spec-Fic Magazines

The death of the magazine! It’s all doom and gloom... Well, not necessarily. While print circulations for most magazines are down on previous years, readership for digital and online issues continue to increase (as too do pay rates for online magazines). Digital subscriptions for Analog in 2010 totaled 2,500; for Asimov’s it was 4,700; both figures are up from last year. What does this mean? It’s obvious; print magazines really do need to offer digital editions to survive, and maybe even flourish. Most already do.

But it’s still great to see that some spec-fic magazines have print circulations in the tens of thousands! Their figures become even more impressive when online sales are included. Hell, these are the mags to get into, although I imagine doing that will require a feat of some brilliance. Best I go put my brilliant shoes on then and get brilliant-ing.

Here are some facts for 2010 (from Locus magazine, February 2011):
  • Analog – 22,791 subscribers (20,291 print) and a circulation of 29,050
  • Asimov’s Science Fiction – 17,866 subscribers (13,166 print). Circulation is 24,747
  • Clarkesworld (online magazine)  – readership is about 21,000 per issue (conservative figure)
  • Lightspeed (online magazine) - average 20,000 readers per month
  • Fantasy & Science Fiction – 10,907 subscribers. Circulation is 15,172
  • Fantasy Magazine (online magazine) – average 15,000 readers per month
  • Apex (online magazine)  – 95 subscribers, and ~12,000 unique visitors per month
  • Realms of Fantasy – 9,000 subscribers and a total circulation of 10,600
  • Cemetery Dance - ~5,000 subscribers and a print run of ~10,000
  • Albedo One – 125 subscribers and a circulation of ~900
  • Aurealis – 320 subscribers and a print run of 650
  • Strange Horizons (online magazine) – no website figures but traffic is up from 2009
  • Subterranean (online magazine) – no website figures but traffic is up from 2009
  • HorrorWorld (online magazine) – (approx. 648 unique visitors per day according to MuStat.com: I added this one as I had a story published there in April 2011)

Science fiction and fantasy have the bigger audiences, which is no real surprise. But it’s good to see a number of horror outlets drawing large numbers of readers.

It’s also interesting to see how poorly Australia fares here (I’ve only included Aurealis in the above list as it has the biggest circulation of the Oz mags); are we not embracing the digital evolution strongly enough, or is there some other problem afoot in the magazine industry down under? Maybe I’m missing data that would refute what I’m saying (Eclecticism E-zine)? The quality of Aussie fiction isn’t in question. Does it come down to marketing? Maybe we’re not promoting ourselves well enough on the world stage. Is it that we don’t pay enough to attract bigger names that would, in turn, attract a wider audience? (There are no Australian magazines paying professional rates.) Or perhaps consistency, both in publishing schedules and quality per issue, has something to do with it?  

With the online world going from strength to strength, I really can’t see any reason why an Aussie online publication couldn’t get into the 10s of thousands of online readers per month. Sure, it would be a hell of a big job, but is it really impossible? I don’t think so.

I had a horrible thought the other day, one no demented look from my ever suffering shifty sideshow of a freak of a muse could tear apart, and that was I’d love to get involved in running a magazine again... I told my wife and she just walked off, shaking her head.

Fortunately though, I drowned that idea in Maker’s Mark, and that seems to have ended the nonsense...


Damien C. Edwards said...

It’s surprising how many of the magazines don’t have ebook versions. PDF yes, but I don’t like PDF’s on my kindle, however, I do like reading short stories on it. The couple on the list that did have a version for the kindle are, the last I checked, more expensive than the hardcopy on Amazon. Looking at any of the stats about ebook sales etc, it’s a wonder they don’t try to cater for their own (potential) customer base. I even emailed the Australian mag to ask if they would be doing it in .mobi and I don’t think they got back to me…

Marty Young said...

Thanks for commenting Damien.

I know Midnight Echo (another Aussie mag) was seriously considering bringing out an epub (or mobi) version to go along with the print and PDF versions, but I'm no longer involved in the running of that mag so I don't know the current situation.

I'd be surprised--and disappointed--if Aussie mags don't embrace epub or mobi formats in the immediate future. It just makes business sense.

Internationally, of those listed above that do have versions for Kindle or other readers, issues seem to go for ~$2.99 each. Living in Oz and subscribing to US- or UK-based mags is an expensive hobby, so I can't complain about the price of an e-version.