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I Miss Magazines

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

What can I say? I miss magazines. Not that there aren’t magazines still around, of course, but there are so few that are worth the trouble of actually looking at. Wired is good, and if you feel like heavy lifting The Economist might do the job, but there’s nothing like, say, Punch, there are only a handful of fiction magazines and you have to dig under rocks just to get to those, etc.

The reason they’re gone, of course, is that people stopped reading them. They were supplanted by radio and TV for a long time, and nowadays the closest thing in the same niche is blogs.

Now mind you, I like blogs. I’m a texty sort of guy and finding a good blog is a joy. I’m not sure yet how blogging fits in to a writerly income, although I’m told there are people who pay their rent with it so I’m eager to learn. And with the advent of the tablet, I can foresee a world where reading comes back into vogue — done in your bed (or comfy chair, or on the bus, in the waiting room at the dentist, etc.) as in the days of old, but with a screen instead of glossy paper.

But I still miss magazines. I miss flipping pages and seeing two-page spreads, I miss finding funky stuff advertised in the back or little bits of light verse tossed into a corner because an article came up 250 words short. Most of all, I miss the sense of the “vetted writer” that magazines created. If somebody gets published (meaning, by someone other than themselves), that instantly says that their work had value in the eyes of the publisher. Not to knock self-publishing — it’s a great way to go if you’ve got the moxie — but it does have to overcome the hurdle of blowing your own trumpet. If you’ve been chosen by a publisher, that means a more objective (and certainly a more profit-oriented) party has looked at your writing and decided that it’s worth taking a risk on, even if it’s the moderately small risk of a single column in a periodic magazine.

I also miss there being a wide and ready market for short fiction. I’d be off like gangbusters if only the pulps were still around! But hey, Benny Goodman wanted to be in a jazz quartet instead of a big band, too. The world is what it is, not what we’d have it be, and one must learn to cope!

-The Gneech

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
How about The Strand? There are ads on every other page, but the stories are usually quite good. I'd say the same of the interviews, but I rarely know who they're interviewing.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
That comes under the heading of "fiction magazines you have to hunt under a rock to find." :)

Apr. 2nd, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Huh--I guess my bookstore likes to stock more obscure titles!
Apr. 2nd, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
Well, Borders and B&N will stock the "big" fiction magazines, so they can be found. :) But you'll never see them at a grocery stand!

Apr. 2nd, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
Very true--you need a rather large magazine rack to stock this one!
Apr. 2nd, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
well, hopefully your new toy will bring about a new breed of magazine.

Not that i'd expect you to rush off and subscribe to sports illustrated, but apply that very neat interface to the next generation of magazine content you *might* be interested in... or start one. ;}
Apr. 2nd, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
I'm certainly watching that model with interest! Wired is going to have an iPad app, if I recall correctly.

Apr. 2nd, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
There are still a few I subscribe to - because really no matter how much I love the internet, technology, tablets, netbooks, pda's and electronic book readers - it's just not the same as good ol paper products. Maybe not as many as I used to - part of it is a financial decision and a time thing - but I still believe in magazines.

If that makes me a luddite, a old fogey, a curmudgeon, a tree killer, or just plain uncool - then so be it.

As for the market for short fiction - the traditional old stand bys for short fiction are still out there and going strong. Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post, and the New Yorker, all still publish short fiction and are all still worth reading

Edited at 2010-04-02 03:55 pm (UTC)
Apr. 2nd, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
Still love magazines. I continue to get a free subscription to computerworld and networkworld, have been for years.
Apr. 2nd, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
I think the drop in the market for short fiction has lead to an overall trend in sloppy, padded-out writing. New writers, especially in genre fiction like SF and Mystery, used to cut their teeth on shorts, and learned a lot about tight, efficient storytelling.

These days, it seems like new F/SF writers get handed the contract for the Trilogy of Doorstoppers right out the gate—and the end product often reads like they stretched a short story's worth of plot and concept into something that never ends.

Edited at 2010-04-02 05:37 pm (UTC)
Apr. 4th, 2010 03:51 am (UTC)

I have been intrigued by the latest offering of pads/ereaders/etc... I've even been tempted to buy at least one, and it didn't even start with a vowel. I may even get such a device after another year's worth of bug fixing and form-factor standardizing (if you recall, netbooks started out having 8-9 inch screens, but now push 12-13 inch screen sizes).

But...and I have to agree with others on this point...there is something more real about holding a magazine or book in your hands and turning actual pages. I suppose we'll just have to adapt. Even today, there are those who claim that listening to a record instead of a CD or MP3 is superior due to the latter's "soul" or "warmth" that cannot be replicated, so they say, in a purely digital format. The same will be true with dead tree media.

And that's the problem with adaptation: undesirable traits, those that do not favor progression, are eventually excised from the body. And many times that hurts, or at least leaves us with a hole or gap that desires to be filled.

On a tangent, speaking philosophically we live in interesting times. More and more people are placing their memories in external things rather than relying upon their own gray matter, while those who do spend the time and energy to commit large blocks of information to memory are called, in the nicest way possible, unique or interesting. Buying a magazine and having all of your issues cataloged and organized for you automatically, with built-in search functions that can scan gigabytes of data in just a few moments...well, it takes something away from the experience. As one of those people who remembers the physical locations of things...well, it'll be an interesting adjustment to say the least.

Let me know how the pad works out for you. And if it is, in fact, all that and a bag of whole grain, carbon neutral, solar baked chips.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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