Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Extended Edition on Kindle

I used to subscribe to science fiction magazines on paper. Pulp magazines really haven't changed for decades, though the content has changed quite a bit. In particular, the paper magazines were printed very cheaply, and as the costs of paper went up and the number of buyers (news-stand and subscriptions) went down, the magazines have gone bi-monthly.

Electronic delivery makes a lot of sense for pulp magazines: the cost of mailing and printing is gone, and the guilt of throwing away paper disappears. But most of the pulp magazines to date have been more expensive in electronic edition than in print edition. This sucks, because I don't like the fiction in them any better just because it's in electronic format.

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) is the exception to this rule. Priced at $0.99/month or $2 per issue, it's cheaper than a subscription to the print magazine would be, so I tried it. Ironically, the thing I miss most about going to electronic edition is the ads: the print edition would have full page ads for upcoming books that I might miss otherwise, and this edition does not have them.

The fiction is hit & miss, and though not always to my taste, is always of reasonable quality. I certainly feel like I get $2 worth per issue. The restriction on the format is that you only get to keep 7 back-issues at any given time, but that's well over a year's worth of fiction. Since I read nearly every issue cover to cover, this is not a problem for me.

I don't usually review short stories on this blog, so the only way to find out how much you like the magazine is to go for the free trial.

It always feels ironic to me that science fiction magazines are the last on-board the digital bandwagon, and it feels to me like science fiction writers will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into e-books. But Gordon Van Gelder of F&SF is doing a great job in this new world, and I feel like I can't pimp his forward thinking approach on pricing enough.

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