SF MAGAZINES: It’s Not My Fault

October 1st, 2009 | brainjuice

No, it’s not. Because Jess Nevins made me look at these.

Average age of a reader of Asimov’s or Analog? 59.

11,000 subscribers to F&SF? Really? This has to be partial information, right?

Check out the gender splits.

Back to work with me.


7 Responses to “SF MAGAZINES: It’s Not My Fault”

  1. 11,000 is depressing, though I think any “small press” magazine would die for such numbers, still (which is also depressing). I recently let my subscription lapse after keeping it for about five years. I just found myself letting it pile up, not reading it…

  2. The gender split is particularly telling; even F&SF, which demographically skews much younger (average reader age: 40) is around 30/70. And Asimov’s and Analog are just plain weird! Among the fiction reading public in general, the split is something like 60/40. SF MAGAZINES: UR DOIN IT RONG (for values of “IT” that equate to tracking the median fiction-reading demographic).

  3. Then again, maybe it just means that people who still think subscribing to magazines is the way to go are old and in the way.

  4. I naturally assumed that 14% of Asimov/Analog readers where hermaphroditic, which makes that crowd sound way more exciting than probably is.

    Jezez. When your average is is nearing sixty, that faint smell of death hovering around your magazine could actually be generated by your readers.

  5. Wait, how aren’t they tracking at least part of said median demo? Men aren’t the monetary juggernaut of fiction.

  6. If I understood this interview correctly: http://sofanauts.com/sofanauts/the-sofanauts-no-30-the-state-of-asimovs-special

    That age was made up as “this is what we think is ideal for our advertisers”.

    Though I’m not 100% sure I understood correctly.

  7. The important facts there would be the declining sales and gender split, rather than age.

    With increasingly long-lived populations in most of the Northern hemisphere, having a readership over 50 – with no dependents and disposable income – could be seen as an advantage for a periodical, irrespective of the publishing platform.

    This is an audience that is used to reading well-written, thoughtful prose.

    Rather than – say – publications that look like all those lifestyle magazines that the internet did away with. Big splash pages. Alt porn models wearing “club” clothes. Edgy drugs references. Shouty Charles Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson schtick. Take the contents of the cult books section in a Virgin Megastore in out 1992. Mince it all up and serve on an iPad, basically.

    Is this about reaching new readers, so imaginative fiction has a healthy business model? Or is it about the generational chasm that’s opened up in fandom? If the latter, I know which side I’d choose.

    If, just to read speculative fiction, I’m required to stare over a pay wall and into a cultural ghetto full of people who can’t get over the decade of their youth, I’d rather languish in the sixties or seventies than the nineties.

    The sexism, lack of real diversity and generally patrician attitude of the older generation has been its undoing. Clinging to print rather than embracing its intrinsic qualities is a symptom of this.

    But they’re both cliques. This – combined with the jackdaw mentality of the internet – is what will stop anyone from monetizing short fiction and journalism to any significant degree.