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March 2009
 
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Editorial - March 2009
by Gordon Van Gelder

A LITTLE more than ten years ago, I wrote an editorial predicting changes in the book industry. My chief forecast was that "recyclebacks" would replace the mass-market paperback. I guess that shows you how good I am at forseeing the future.

When I wrote the editorial, Ed Ferman suggested that I try a follow-up piece that applied the same guesswork to the magazine that I tried on the book. I didn't feel at the time that I knew enough about the magazine business to make any guesses.

Here we are a decade later and I've held the title of "Publisher" for two presidential terms in office, but I still don't feel I know enough to hazard any guesses about the future of the magazine biz. These have been times of rapid, forceful changes for the magazine industry, and every time I think I understand it, the rules change.

One thing I do understand, though, is the pivotal role that the postal service plays in this enterprise. So when a trade journal posted the projected rate increases for 2009, I realized something had to change. If the rates I saw are accurate (they came from a reliable source, but I only saw them three days before my deadline for this issue and I haven't been able to verify them yet), we can't maintain our monthly-but-one schedule. Look for us to shift from eleven issues a year—including one double issue—to six double issues published on a bimonthly schedule. (Actually, the double issues will probably be longer than our current Oct./Nov. issues.) I spoke with our distributor about trying some combination of single- and double-issues, but we both felt that a regular bimonthly schedule would be more durable. We can expect the bimonthly schedule to last us decades, while an irregular schedule is more apt to change from year to year.

As long as we're changing our schedule, I expect to make some other changes to F&SF, so now's a good time to drop us a line or post your thoughts on our Forum or Message Board about what you'd like to see more of.

One thing that seems obvious to me is that the whole nature of what a magazine is has shifted during the last decade. As one of our longtime readers wrote:

When I started reading science fiction magazines in the late seventies, the features (book reviews and letters columns) spoke directly to me and created a sense of community. I wasn't the only person reading this stuff (although it often seemed that way), and there was a body of literature I should look for. Today, I turn to the science fiction sites on the Internet to see there are other people out there reading this stuff, and I can actually interact with them.
Things have certainly changed a lot since those late seventies days—and since the late nineties days—and you can help us change with them.

You can also help us with our jumbo Sixtieth Anniversary issue. We'd like to know what you consider the best stories and the best cover we've published since that first issue came off the presses in October of 1949. You can vote online at www.fandsf.com or just send a postcard to us at P.O. Box 3447, Hoboken, NJ 07030. Results that we receive by April 10 will be tabulated and printed in our anniversary issue.

—GVG

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