>Over the past several months, Anis Shivani has been speaking his mind in his Huffington Post column on literary matters–the best books, the most over-rated books, etc. Usually a negative wave of comments follows these columns, as if the guy isn’t entitled to his opinions. Now we have an interesting and timely (for me) column about online journals, in which Shivani has editors of 15 magazines talk about the industry. Nothing wrong with that, but of course editors of other journals who weren’t asked to speak are doing some sniping.
Whatever. It’s an interesting compilation and you can read it: here.
Here’s Shivani’s lead-in:
After at least a decade of sustained presence, what can we say about the status of journals that promote literature online? We asked editors of some of the oldest online journals, as well as some new ones, these questions: What are online literary journals doing that print journals are failing to do? Have online journals come of age yet? Can you point to specific examples of areas where online literary journals are in a league of their own?
Excellent questions, and we get some good answers from people like Rebecca Frank (Memorious), Greg Donovan (Blackbird), Thom Didato (failbetter.com), Steve Seighman (Monkeybicycle), Kim Chinquee (formerly with elimae), and several editors and magazines I don’t know as well.
Anis didn’t ask me, but I thought I’d offer my answers here, speaking as editor of Prime Number Magazine.
One thing online journals are doing is reaching readers. I don’t know exactly how many people have read Prime Number in the 4 months we’ve been around, but I know it’s a lot. You don’t have to buy a subscription. You don’t have to buy it on the newsstand. You don’t have to store it on a shelf until you get around to reading it. You read it. It’s archived. You come back and read it again. Furthermore, we do updates. We’re quarterly, but between issues we have 4 mini issues with flash and poetry. Print can’t do that–except that many print magazines ARE doing it through their online presences.
Come of age? I have no idea. I think that’s out of our control. I know that we’re attracting a lot of submissions from good writers, and I’m pleased with the work we’ve published. When the prize anthologies take the work that appears online seriously, then maybe we can say for sure that online magazines have come of age.
Multi-media. We haven’t done this yet, but simply the ability to post audio, video, and images makes online magazines a jump ahead of print magazines which, at best, include a few color prints–at great expense. I also like the fact that we can include hyper links–especially for our contributors with books out where I can link to the Indiebound page for the book, or to the contributor’s website or blog.