Come on. It’s a tradition now, right? Gardner Dozois releases a new YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION containing his Summation of the doings of the year, and I pull out the sf magazine circulation numbers from it and depress everybody. (Cue blog posts beginning "Warren Ellis makes Doom Pronoucements Yet Abloodygain…")
The 2008 sf magazine numbers as per Mr Dozois’ discovery:
ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION drops 2.7% in circulation, to a hair over 17000 copies. In the previous three years, it had dropped 5.2%, 13.6% and 23%. That’s 500 missing readers in 2008.
ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT drops 5.1%, to a hair under 26,000 copies. 1400 missing readers in 2008.
MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION drops 2.7% to 16,044 copies. Again, around 500 missing readers in 2008.
REALMS OF FANTASY is awaiting revival, I believe.
Mr Dozois continues to peg INTERZONE at "2000 to 3000 copies," which is what he says every year, and I would love proper figures on INTERZONE’s circulation. And, in fact, I think it would be a wise thing for INTERZONE to release such, to combat this constant carping that it’s a "semi-professional" magazine.
Notes: all of these must be selling digital copies that aren’t getting factored into the circulation. Some of those missing readers must have been converted into digital customers. Those numbers would tell a tale. No, print is not dead, and neither are periodicals. All the magazines save INTERZONE are in the middle of format and/or frequency shifts.
I said last year that I wouldn’t run these numbers. That said, I expected the last year to show these magazines display no response at all to their numbers. Instead, one went bimonthly and two changed size and cut some content. Neither of which strike me as proportionate responses. I could almost understand a resolute "we ain’t changing nothing. This is what we do and we’re going to sit here until they prise our red pens from our cold dead hands because we’re providing a service for the fans who like it old school." I could respect that. I’m glad they don’t have guns and stockpiled foodstuffs, but you know what I mean. I’m not sure that actions commensurate with cutting bits off themselves and cooking and eating them to stave off starvation is really due the same kind of nod.
The 2009 numbers, which Dozois will publish in the summer of 2010, will show how practical these moves proved to be.
"Sf magazines" is the string to use in the Search box to find all my other reports and thoughts on this topic over the last three years. Some of them started some arguments. Can’t imagine how. I am, as you know, the very soul of joy, and filled with light.
My favourite sf magazine? FLURB, without a doubt. Richard Kadrey, Kek-W, Simon Logan, Rudy Rucker and John Shirley in the same place? Beat that with a stick.