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Questions about publishing short fiction online

A few months ago, I was at a retirement party for a newspaper editor and the subject of publishing material online for free came up.  “Who ever thought it was a good idea to give away your main product for free?” asked one veteran journalist.  “I remember when I was at Time and we looked at it.  One of the smartest people I know said, ‘If you start giving it away, no one’s going to pay for it.’”

That comment has been echoing in my head a lot lately.  At Readercon, a veteran editor told me, “Even with PayPal, I think it’s going to get harder and harder to get anyone to pay for anything online.  There’s just too much out there for free.”

On August 3, John Scalzi posted in his blog (http://scalzi.com/whatever/?p=1231) that his story “After the Coup” published at www.tor.com has already gotten 49,566 hits, which is close to the combined circulations for Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF.  When I pointed out that he was comparing the number of paying customers with the number of people who took a freebie, he replied, ‘Well, on my end, I’m comparing eyeballs to eyeballs.’”

Here at F&SF, we’re open to experimentation and for the past year or so, we’ve been publishing one reprint a month on our Website.  Last month, the free story was “The Political Officer” by Charles Coleman Finlay.  A few days ago, someone posted on our message board  (http://nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/378/12233.html?1219150161) that he wanted to read that story.  I explained that it was no longer on our Website but he could buy a copy of that back issue from us or from Fictionwise.

As I did so, I realized that I was putting a reader in a position where he had to decide if he would pay for something he could have had for free just a few days earlier . . . which doesn’t strike me as a good position.  I know that I don’t like being asked to make such a choice.

So I started to wonder: has short fiction been devalued by the fact that so many places offer it for free online nowadays?

I was thinking of this question in terms of contrast with trilogies.  The format of a trilogy has been around for a long time, but I think it’s accurate to say that in the 1970s and ‘80s, book publishers (especially the team of Lester and Judy-Lynn del Rey) trained readers to expect fantasy fiction to come in series formats, particularly in sets of three.  For instance, Stephen Donaldson’s original Chronicles of Thomas Covenant were one book—the del Reys split it into three volumes and published the trilogy to great success.  Nowadays, it’s noteworthy when someone published a fantasy novel and nothing indicates that the book is the start of a series.

I look at trilogies and the form appears to me to be thriving.  But I don’t see many publishers giving away the books for free.  By contrast, I see publishers posting short fiction for free in many places, but I don’t see many of those publishers reaping rewards for their efforts.  I think short fiction giveaways have been good for individual authors, but are they working for publishers?

Also, I realized that I’ve done something extremely stupid.  I’ve run an experiment without trying to measure the results.  Sure, we’ve looked at the number of hits our online stories and columns get, and we’ve done one or two other things to measure the effects of our online publications, but we’ve never done a survey.

So I’m posting now to ask for feedback on a few things:

  •  When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
  • Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
  • Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free.  If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
  • Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

Please note that I’m trying to keep the discussion just to fiction (not articles).

If you would care to do so, I’d be grateful if you’d include your age with your post.  No need to get specific—I just want to know if you’re in your teens or if you’re in your eighties.

And finally, please be aware that I plan to convert this post into an editorial for the print magazine, so don’t post anything here that you wouldn’t want me to reprint.  If you’d like to comment but don’t want to do so in public, you can use the Contact Us form on our Website (here: http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/contact.htm).  Write “DNQ” on your email if you don’t want to be quoted.

Thanks for your feedback.

—GVG

comments

187 Responses to “Questions about publishing short fiction online”

  1. R.W. Ridley on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? Absolutely.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? No, but I have purchased the single issue where the story appeared.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    Probably not.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? I guess this depends on cost, but I have purchased a handful of short fiction online so I’m not less inclined.

    I’m 42.

  2. Andrew C on August 21st, 2008

    I don’t read much short fiction, but do a lot of reading online. I am 21 and a college student.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes! I am a huge fan of Baen’s free online library. If I read one book by an author I enjoy in the free library, within a week I’ll have bought any of their books available through Webscriptions, and will have wandered through Barnes and Noble looking for any others by them.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. I don’t really read magazines.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    All depends on the pricing and the conditions placed on readership. If I can’t read it in the format I like, or may not be able to access it in a year, then no. Otherwise, I could see paying for it.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. If I am a fan of the author, I’m glad to pay for their work.

  3. Nik on August 21st, 2008

    1. I don’t read a great deal of free online fiction, but when I do read a story I like on the web, I am inclined to support the publication either through a modest PayPal donation or a recommendation and link on my blog (provided the publication in question pays its authors). I do this MOST of the time.

    2. Yes (sort of). I have subscribed to two print magazines based on long excerpts (not complete stories) they posted online. I have also purchased print on-demand magazines based on stories the publisher has posted online.

    3. While Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories are often a draw, particular authors that I’m fond of are even more so. Typically, if an author I really like has a story in F&SF, I’ll buy the whole issue and then be pleasantly surprised by some of the other offerings. However, if you offered individual stories by ALL authors at a fee–not just award nominees–I would consider paying for downloadable stories by my favorite authors. Hands down, though, I prefer the feel of a full print issue in my hands to reading from the screen or print out.

    4. No. While there is some really great stuff out there for free, a lot of the best can only be acquired through payment, and I would argue that this is the way it should be.

    My age is 29 (so I can still be trusted for a year).

    Hope this helps.

  4. joelfinkle on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Directly? No. I’m rarely going to feel like I need to click a tip jar icon.
    But I’m more likely to buy media from that company: For instance, I buy the trade paperbacks of Phil Foglio’s awesome Girl Genius, and Unshelved web comics, and I’ve bought books published by Subterranean and Tor, knowing they produce quality fiction (although I will admit, pretty much any place those authors published would get my cabbage)

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    Not likely — I can get (and have gotten) them at the library: it might take a few hours of sitting in a comfy chair, but I’ll read a few novellas there. On the other hand, I was one of the pioneers that bought the Hugo Nominee CD-ROM that Brad Templeton put together in the 90′s, for, I think, Magicon.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Not at all: In the past year or so, I’ve bought collections by Stross, Di Fillipo, and Nix, to name a few. Frankly, the short fiction in F&SF was sometimes my least-read stuff: the editorials, reviews, and other commentary (get Harlan to resurrect his movie column from years back, and I’ll probably subscribe again) got read first, unless it was a story by a ‘fave,’ while other stories might get a read later.

  5. stoolpigeon on August 21st, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    No. If I ready a story online that I like, I will however be inclined to buy books written by the author of the story.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No – not in regards to Fiction. But I’m cheap. I usually read short fiction at Barnes & Noble or the Library. On-line now too, but I don’t pay for it usually. (I have subscribed to a couple print magazines due to articles about technical stuff.)

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. The hassle and risks of engaging in an on-line transaction don’t merit the benefit.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No – because I wasn’t inclined before it was there.

    I’m a 39 year old guy who loves sci-fi and fantasy. I usually stick to novel length works though. With sites like tor.com I am reading more short stories, and buying more books by tor authors.

  6. Josh Kidd on August 21st, 2008

    Age: 31

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes, but not primarily. I think my initial impulse when reading a story online would be to support the author. If I read a number of stories that I liked from the same publisher, I would want to support that publisher. The exception to this is if I read a short story that I like that is part of an anthology. I am often enticed to buy an anthology from a single free story.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Yes. But this seems like a counter-intuitive move on your part. I thought that the reason these stories were offered for free was to get as many eyes on them as possible and push up the votes.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Yes. The bottom line is that you can only read so much.

  7. SisterCoyote on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    The publisher maybe not so much. The author, usually. However, I am poor and get most of my reading material either free online or from the library because I can’t afford to buy a lot.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but I also haven’t subscribed to a print magazine in over ten years.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    The cost of a full issue? For how many stories? Just one? Or all Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories? For how many years?

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No.

    I’m a 39-year-old woman. I haven’t bought a lot of fantasy or sci fi lately, but see my first point about not having a lot of money.

  8. Conrad Rader on August 21st, 2008

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment. My wife is a subscriber to Analog and Asimov’s, has been for years. I occasionally page through them, but I am not a huge fan of the magazine short fiction format. There are occasionally some jewels, but I feel I have to slog through a lot of mud to find them. It’s not worth my time.

    Reading online comes through either specific referrals from sources that I trust (a la the aforementioned Scalzi) or works by authors I already know. If the work appears on a page with ad support, I am inclined to return to the publisher if new material by that author appears again. I feel I am supporting the publisher by returning to a page that has ads attached. That is not exactly free, but kind of free in that I tolerate being advertised to in order to enjoy something I like. I am more inclined to directly support the creator than the publisher however, if all else was equal.

    I have paid for services that I like and am likely to use. I have often bought books on the recommendation of sources, or at least checked them out of the library before I was sure I wanted to acquire them.

    I would not pay the cost of an issue to read a story. In the first instance, it makes no logical sense to me to pay the cost of a paper product containing stuff I don’t want to get an electronic file, or access to the one item I do want. I could be induced to pay for access to the single story file for one time reading, a bit more for a copy of the file I could keep, and a bit more for a collected file of all the stories by that author again, that I could keep. The above goes for Hugo and Nebula nominations as well.

    I do not think I am influenced by the amount of short fiction online as I tend to be selective and don’t have the time to go plowing through the morass. If I subscribe to a magazine, that is what I am paying for, the services of people to go plowing through the morass to find a few things that I might like and point me to them. Now, in terms of service, I would be willing to pay for a service that got to know me and my reading preferences, looked for fiction that I would be interested in and let me know where it was, and if I wanted to pay a little more, acquire that material for me.

    Oddly enough, that’s what I do for a living as a public librarian, although we aren’t allowed to charge for our services.

    For me, the key is choice. I am more likely to pay on a sliding scale depending on my wants. If I want to check out first paragraphs without commitment, I would be willing to look at them on an ad sponsored page. If I want to read the whole story, I would be willing to pay a certain amount. If I wanted to print out a copy (that was nicely formatted for home binding or through a copy shop) well, I would pay a little more for that. Having the choice means that the provider has thought about how to deliver the product (which is the story) into the hands of the consumer (me) and given thought to how these products are most likely to be consumed, and charged accordingly. That tells me that someone on the provider end is thinking about how to use delivery mechanisms and leverage different levels of commitment.

    I am 40 years old, and have been reading SciFi and Fantasy as long as I can rememebr.

  9. Skip on August 21st, 2008

    To answer your questions:

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Publisher? No, not really. The author of the piece? Absolutely, and the publisher is likely to get a piece of that support. Baen is the big one here, I’ve bought dozens of things from authors after reading the free books, but that support is not restricted to Baen.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. But I’m not likely to ever subscribe to any print magazine ever again. The dead tree edition of something that doesn’t have a huge reread value isn’t particularly something I’m likely to get, except in specific circumstances, like a cover story by a favorite author.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. Not a chance. If I was going to do that, I’d just wait for the inevitable paperback anthology in a few months.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not really. I think that it’s more that, on any given issue of a magazine these days the odds of me recognizing any of the story authors are not good, because the authors I grew up reading are mostly not writing short stories, if they’re even still alive. I’m perfectly willing to pay for something from an author I know I like, but extremely unwilling to do so for authors I don’t know.

    I’m just under 40 years old.

  10. Dawn O'Bryan on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes, I am more inclined to support the author and all his/her works. If I’ve read a story online that appeals to me I almost always begin buying their hardcopy works. In the case of short fiction, I do subscribe to a number of SF/F magazines already.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes, I’m in my 50s and have had subs. to your magazine and notable others for many years, but just recently did subscribe to a new-to-me one based on an on-line story.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    If the cost was nominal. If it were as much as buying the print magazine, well, I’d just look it up in my back issues to refresh my memory.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not really. But I do pay for more e-versions of work I like than I used to.

    Good questions – I appreciate the opportunity to give feedback and to help you with your editorial.

  11. Julia on August 21st, 2008

    I’m in my mid 20s, and female.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not for that specific piece of work, but if I like it I seek out other works by the same author. This probably benefits book publishers more than magazine publishers.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes, for the Hugo/Nebula stories that have been published online.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    The cost of an issue for one story? No. I’d probably go to my local sci-fi bookstore to purchase the whole issue. Also, I’d probably only make that effort if the author was known/liked by me.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No

  12. Jim Harris on August 21st, 2008

    I’m 56. I’ve wondered too on my blog about how free fiction might be impacting the publishing world. I subscribe to F&SF and Asimov’s, but I read more short stories online for free than I do from the print magazines. Free short stories are everywhere, and as I pointed out on my blog, there’s lots of free great short stories, but just the author’s trunk stories.

    Online stories are easier to read because I can make their fonts larger and because they come with recommendations and promotion from bloggers. I did buy individual issues of F&SF, Asimov’s and Analog from Fictionwise to read on my Kindle, so I am willing to pay for short fiction. However, I’m in the process of selling my Kindle. I’m not sure about ebooks yet.

    I’ve discovered that my FAVORITE form of short story publishing is audio books. I got 5 issues of F&SF on audio from Audible years ago, and I still go back and relisten to those issues.

    So if we’re talking about spending money, I’m willing to spend money for short fiction audio. If F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog and the other magazines offered 1 audio story download to subscribers of the print magazine each month, that would be a major incentive to keep subscribing.

    Jim

  13. loberto on August 21st, 2008

    1) I feel inclined to support the author.

    2) No, but I might purchase the issue in question.

    3) Not likely. I would have to actively be seeking to read the piece in question, having already decided to spend money on it.

    4) No change in my likelihood to spend money. What does change is my likelihood to spend money on that author’s works, or the publishers related material. Consider it advertising. The perceived lost revenue for making content available for free is theoretically offset by an increase in revenue that is brought in by the free content. At least that’s how the model wants to work. If it doesn’t, it’s not gonna be good for business.

    My reaction to this is that companies that make money online by hosting free content make their money from advertising. Whether or not one can make enough simply advertising their own products, I’m not sure, I guess it depends on one’s traffic and marketing budget. The interesting question to me then, is do the authors get a share of related advertising profits?

    Oh, and I’m 34.

  14. Will Entrekin on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? No; I feel inclined to support the author.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? I only subscribe to general interest magazines (Esquire, etc.), but no. I’d never subscribe to any publication on the basis of a single story. I might subscribe to one based on their site itself, though.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? No. Why the cost of an issue to read a single story? That doesn’t make sense. If the average issue contains 10 stories and I pay five bucks for it, I pay fifty cents per story, not five bucks for any single one therein. iTunes doesn’t charge the cost of an album for a single song.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? I never subscribed to magazines for fiction before the Internet, so I doubt it has much bearing. I personally feel the short-fiction market is largely busted anyway, though (but not the short-fiction form).

    I’m a 30-year-old writer of commercial fiction.

  15. Michael Kirkland on August 21st, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Absolutely. I’ve found many of my favourite authors this way. I’m far more likely to buy someone’s book if I’ve enjoyed something of theirs before.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Well, no. It’s 2008. I’m not likely to buy their gramophone records or horsewhips either.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No, and it would leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    I’m not sure I’d say that’s why, but no, I’m not particularly inclined to pay for short fiction individually. I’ll happily buy anthologies of short fiction, but if it’s piecemeal I see it as advertisement for longer works.

  16. Lou Anders on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? Yes, I read a Garth Nix novella on Baen’s site and immediately tipped on paypal.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? No, but I have bought book length works by an author based on reading a short fiction piece online. (As an anthologist, I have also invited authors into anthologies based on discovering their works online, so it at least works for authors in terms of Scalzi’s eyeballs, if not for content publishers…)

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? I might pay a site like fictionwise for a Hugo bundle (and I’m getting deja vu about that, maybe I have). But I don’t know if I’d buy individual stories from separate sources.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? I wish. The more I read for free the more I tend to buy.

    I am around your age !

  17. Kerry on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Publisher? I don’t normally pay attention to that, just to author. If I read a piece by an author and like it, I will most likely buy any books they have in print.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    I don’t do magazines.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    No – I don’t read most free short fiction as it is, so I definitely wouldn’t pay for it.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    See last answer. I don’t read short fiction at all, as a rule. I am a book person and prefer real, dead-tree books. I will read an occasional piece of free online short fiction, and if I like it and haven’t read the author before, I will search out other works by said author.

    I am 51.

  18. Patrick on August 21st, 2008

    I’m not following the trilogy analogy. I don’t think it is a reasonable comparison.

    If you wanted to compare to Baen’s Free Library, or ESPN’s website w\ insider content, or even an online game site like itsyourturn.com which offers free games to anyone registered and more options to those who pay, I’d understand better.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    No more than I feel inclined to support a publisher when I read a book from the library or a magazine in a waiting room. It might inspire me to make a purchase in the future, but I wouldn’t feel I owe anything at that point.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? No

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? No, though I don’t read the free ones all the time either.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? No.

    Age 35

  19. Adam Rakunas on August 21st, 2008

    1) Yes.
    2) No, because most of the stuff I read online doesn’t have a print analogue.
    3) Nope.
    4) No. If that site lets me subscribe or drop some cash in a tip jar, I’ll do so.

    I’m 34.

  20. Zeke on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    –Yes, definitely.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    – Yes, at least once.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    – Possibly. I’d be more likely then to wait until the stories came out in a longer anthology instead of just getting the short stories immediately.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    – Tough question. I would most likely not pay for authors unfamiliar to me, even if they were Hugo/Nebula nominated, whereas if their stories were free I would feel no risk reading them and potentially becoming a fan. What free short fiction online has done for me, is introduce me to new (or at least new to me) authors and give me a good sense of their writing style and whether or not I’d like their larger body of work. So basically: Yes, free short fiction has made me less inclined to pay for it, however it has made me more likely to buy those authors’ novels/novellas whose free short stories I enjoyed.

  21. Eric Honaker on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    That depends. If the publisher in question has a history of supporting that artist, then yes. For the most part, I am more interested in the content creator than the publisher. However, sometimes a particular publisher gets my attention and I pay attention to them.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    Not a subcription, but I have begun picking up individual mags or a regular basis. If the online offerings were consistently interesting to me and of high quality, then I would be inclined to subscribe.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    Probably not, though it would depend a lot on who wrote them, what they were about, and how many they were. An issue for two stories about koala bears by authors I don’t like? No way. A dozen, with 8 authors I respect and some interesting sounding titles? Sure. If you are going to charge that much, the stories should be available perpetually or in a downloadable format like a PDF.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Nope. I have a subscription to F&SF, in fact. :)

  22. Sam Greenfield on August 21st, 2008

    I’m a subscriber to F&SF. I don’t mind that the stories are available for free online, because I buy the magazine to carry around and read at my leisure. As the price of items like Kindles go down, this behavior might change.

    More importantly, why would I pay F&SF money for a story online if I could just pay the author money directly for the story? What is F&SF adding? Is the editorial insight and control really worth any theoretical cost given that the marginal distribution and manufacturing costs of an online story are near-nil?

    So to answer your specific questions:
    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. In fact, if I am a subscriber to the print magazine, I really expect to be able to read any story online for no additional charge if I want. And I want to be able to search all of the stories as well.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No.

  23. Brenda Huettner on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    It may seem a minor point, but when I buy a piece of writing, I think of it as buying the author’s work, even though I’m (usually) sending money to the publisher. It doesn’t matter to me which magazine is publishing a story or if it is on the author’s own site.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    Usually the other way around. If I subscribe to a print magazine, I’ll often go check out their online offerings (particularly, as often happens, if I’ve finished the magazine the first week and then have to wait another three weeks for the next issue).

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    Probably not. In theory, I’ve already read them on paper through my print subscription.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    I will pay for print, and lots of it, but have only paid for an online story maybe twice. And then I printed it out to read. I don’t think this is a result of the prevalence of free short fiction online (I don’t read much of the free stuff anyway) – it is more a reflection of my preference for hard copy.

    I’m 48.

  24. Mel on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    The publisher? Sometimes. For example, I regularly listen to Escape Pod and Pod Castle podcasts. Since these publishers don’t charge listeners for the stories they publish, I will usually donate something. Especially if I enjoyed the episode. In most cases, though, I will seek out other work by the author, not neccessarily the publisher.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but I have subscribed after reading a sample copy at a convention, finding it in a bookstore, or hearing buzz about it on blogs. But most of the free fiction I have encountered have come from authors and publishers of novel-length work, not publishers of short fiction.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    If all publishers did? Maybe. If some did and some didn’t, I’d probably avoid the whole process altogether. I agree with Josh in that making potential voters pay might defeat the purpose.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    I don’t think so. I read in both electronic and print formats and will frequently pay for and download short fiction so I can read the stories on a device, away from my computer. Worst-case scenario, free fiction increases my awareness of authors and publishers. Best case scenario, I like the fiction so much I seek out more work by the author.

  25. Daniel H on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Yes, Scalzi’s free stories led me to buy the OMW series

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No, I used to subscribe but I haven’t found a magazine that has a publishing format that I like. Oftentimes I find only one or two items of intrest per mag and that’s not worth it to me. Then there’s the adds ugggh!

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so
    Not really, to tell you the truth most of the Hugo and Nebula winners fiction leave me a little dry.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Nope I still buy anthologies and collections at the store,

  26. Sara Genge on August 21st, 2008

    1st. Not really. But if I like the story I will hunt the author down, buy everything he’s got and force/coerce/cajole him/her to make more.

    2nd question. Yes, several times. In fact, I’ve never subscribed to a magazine without sampling the content first. In the case of Asimov’s and F&SF this involved having friends go to the US and bring back issues. Now I know that I could have gotten them from fictionwise. Hmph. I have since discovered that Asimov’s is (or was, I’m not clear on this point) translated into Spanish in quarterly antho/issues. I prefer to read my fiction in the original language, but I would have subscribed to Asimov’s on the Spanish issues alone (if I hadn’t already been subscribed to Asimov’s, that is)

    3rd question. Nope. It’s weird to have to pay to read a story I’m being asked to vote for.

    4th question. I’m equally inclined to pay for good short fiction, but I no longer bother to pay for the average stuff. Of course, with limited time I prefer excellent free online venues to paper or online magazines I have to subscribe to (it’s not just about paying: subscribing itself is a hassle). This puts Clarksworld and Strange Horizons at the top of my reading list.

    I’m in my twenties.

  27. Chris Sullins on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    If I liked the story, yes. I would be more likely to donate after reading than to pay for the privilege of reading.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I have not yet subscribed to a print magazine. I would, if there consistently appeared stories that I enjoyed. If I only found one story I liked, I wouldn’t bother.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Online publication is worth far less than a paper copy. I buy books so I can own them and reread them. Otherwise I get them from the library. I would not pay market value for a hard copy in order to read a digital copy. I might pay a smaller fee just for the convenience factor.

    In any event, the additional eyes on the Hugo nominee (and therefore publicity for the magazine) has to be worth far more than could be made from charging to read them. It would be like shooting yourself in the face. Worse than the foot, and harder to cover up.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not at all. I buy books of short fiction all the time.

  28. Rob Darnell on August 21st, 2008

    I’m 31.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not necessarily. I feel more inclined to read other stories by the author, which could lead me to support the publisher.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure it could.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I don’t know. Maybe.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not at all.

  29. Kelly McCullough on August 21st, 2008

    Demographics: Male, 41, fantasy novelist.

    I’ll start by saying that I read very little short fiction at all anymore and that almost all in anthologies or collections rather than either online or paper periodicals.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes, but I’m more likely to support the author. I am willing to support online publishing venues if they give me something I want, which is why I subscribe to Salon.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but I’m down to one print subscription at this point, and it’s non-fiction. As is my one online subscription.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not in the least. I’m still perfectly happy to buy anthologies and collections from time to time. What’s made me less likely to buy short fiction is mostly either a change in my own tastes or a change in the flavor of the periodicals–I’m honestly not sure which it is.

  30. b. lynch black on August 21st, 2008

    So I’m posting now to ask for feedback on a few things:

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No… although I love short s/f, usually I read a story because the author interests me, or some review has pointed me to it.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No… but I would pay a pro rated share to read the story. I have no objections to that.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No — I’m perfectly willing to pay for short fiction, I still enjoy it, but I find a full magazine now is too much paper and too few stories I really enjoy. I think I’d subscribe to an online version of a short s/f fiction magazine, but would expect it to be considerably less money.

    I am in my late 40s/early 50s and have been a big reader all my life.

  31. Julia Muldoon on August 21st, 2008

    Questions answered in no particular order in my classic rambling fashion.

    I am a library user, because lets face it, if I had to buy all the books I read, I would be broke. Also you never really know what you are getting yourself into. I like to test drive new authors by getting their material through the library. When I was in my teens if I liked it, well that was it. It didn’t go anywhere from there. Now, if I really like a book that I have taken out from the library or a certain author, they move to my To Buy list. I like having their material on my shelf – which baffles my boyfriend because it takes up space for something that I have already read it. He doesn’t understand the need to have good material at your fingertips (he’s not really a huge reader, more sportsy).

    Anyways short fiction is a new medium to read for me. I would like to say that the same library rules I use now apply to short fiction. However, I have always been more author oriented rather than publication (publisher?) oriented.

    I love having free fiction available online, because well… it fills the lulls in my day at work when I should be working on excel, but if I stare at one more number for one more second I might just go batty.

    I have a subscription to both Asimov and Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. I subscribed before I had even read any of their publications. A blind leap in the dark recommended by on one of my favourite author’s website; so I followed like a little lost lamb. I am pleased.

    I love that your Hugo and Nebula awards are available online; I truly love it. I don’t have the back issues, and don’t really want to get into that dilemma of collecting them (I would want them all). I try to keep a very forward moving approach to magazines.

    I don’t know if I am less inclined to pay for short fiction. If I read something by an author I like, I look for other material by that same author and am willing to pay for it in whatever form of media it comes in, be it an anthology, a magazine, or online publication.

    I guess what it comes down to is that if I like what I read, then I find a way to support it so that the medium of fiction can be continued. It would be a sad day when books or magazines are no longer available. I like having a hard copy that is bound and looks professional. It is also easier on the eyes to read a hard copy then on the computer screen. I also don’t like wasting my own printing resources on printing something up on standard white paper that I could have a nicer copy of. I like the feel of a book (or in this case a magazine), I like the look of it. I think it is very aesthetically pleasing. No whole punched paper in a binder could please me as much as the real deal.

  32. Julia Muldoon on August 21st, 2008

    sorry. I am 23 and female (does gender matter?)

  33. David Bosman on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Support the publisher or the author ?

    The publisher: it will depends of what he/she is doing. I don’t feel like supporting someone for keeping a long list of stories up to date (Google is capable enough to list content). But someone doing publisher & editor’s work I sure will support him… as I already do when purchasing print magazine.

    The author: If I like what I read. And want to read more.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    Yes.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    I would not hesitate to subscribe to an online magazine if there was no “dead tree” version.
    But why pay for ‘promotional’ content ? Isn’t it supposed to draw attention ?

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Not at all. I enjoy reading, I enjoy it enough to know that writer’s (& publisher’s) work is worth something.
    To be fully honest, as a publisher & author (non-fiction) my judgment may be biased ;-)

    I am 38, French

  34. Patrick Shepherd on August 21st, 2008

    First, I’m 60 and have been reading sf since I was 9. Throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, I either subscribed to all the big sf mags or was rather religious about picking them up at the newsstand. However, since that time, things have changed: first, I have far less time for reading now, due to both job and family demands. Second, most of my reading is at the novel length now, partially due to the much greater length of most novels now than then (eating up most of my reading time), partially due to the fact that the novel length allows an author to more fully develop his ideas and characters than is possible in short fiction. Given these factors, my answers to your questions:

    1. When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? I will often purchase an individual hard copy of the piece, as I prefer to read in dead tree format and like having the copies sitting on my shelf, immediately available for re-reading.

    2. Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? No. But once again, I’ll purchase that issue of the mag if I like it enough. The things that will make me subscribe are the additional features (editorials, book reviews, articles) that the mag has besides consistently good fiction.

    3. Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? I probably would, as I like having read all the nominees before voting, but I think it would be a bad idea – these free stories are possibly the best advertising a magazine can have, showcasing the best of what it publishes.

    4. Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? No. My decline in reading short fiction is due to the factors mentioned above, but I still buy anthologies and even the occasional on-line not-free story, mainly because it’s by a particular author that I like. Most of the free fiction either does not interest me because of lower quality, or if it is good, leads me to look for more by that author, and where and by whom it is published is generally immaterial.

  35. Tony on August 21st, 2008

    Background: I tend not to read a lot of short fiction and I don’t subscribe to any fanzines so my position may not be very representative, but I do feel that my final point may be a useful counterpoint.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    If someone offers something for free, I usually take it at that price. However since I’m not usually looking to spend money on this kind of resource anyway, free content is the best way for a publisher to surprise me and get me involved enough to then want to start paying. I certainly don’t have any problem paying for quality content I know I’ll enjoy.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, but it does increase the chance I’ll be exposed to something I may not have otherwise known about and subsequently be prepared to pay for access to more of it. I have certainly purchased novels after having read free samples of the authors work.

    I’m er, in my late 30′s!

  36. Nathan E. Lilly on August 21st, 2008

    I’m 34, and the editor of an online magazine (SpaceWesterns.com)

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Yes, and the author as well.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No. However, as an editor, I have purchased “reprint” rights from authors whose works I’ve found for free online.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    No. Would you pay to listen to a Presidential candidate’s speech? It’s the risk you take to try to illicit votes towards that award. Having more people read the story promotes the fact that your magazine publishes award-worthy fiction, as well as increases the chances of winning that award (which is definitely worth more to you than the $6.95 that you’d charge me).

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No. I edit free online fiction, but I still go out and buy magazines and anthologies.

    Just a minor note (hopefully it’s an insight): You open with the question: “Who ever thought it was a good idea to give away your main product for free?” Isn’t giving away their “main product” for free just what television networks do 24 hours a day? What if your editorial were about “broadcast television” instead of “short fiction”? How does that change the tone of your editorial?

    Creators like Joss Whedon are giving away their work for free (online and through television) but I’d bet dollars to donuts that any SF writer would swap paychecks with him. Even with his most recent work, Dr. Horrible, Joss is doing just what you’re saying put you in a predicament: Dr. Horrible was available online for free… it was removed for free, and the video was made available through iTunes (making record sales). The person who asked for the story is in the same predicament: they heard the buzz around the story, and decided they’d like to read it. Why shouldn’t they want to buy it? (on a slightly related note: Fictionwise is electronic text, why not add “author’s commentary” to the magazine the same way the DVDs add commentary to give the consumer just a little more reason to buy?)

    Although it’s still a mass media, publishing is a much different medium than broadcast. The Internet functions much more like broadcast than publishing: you’re not paying more for additional copies.

  37. Johan on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I feel inclined, yes. Do I actually do it? In most cases – an overwhelming majority, actually – no.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. I’ve never payed to read anything online. The money I spend on short fiction goes to subscribing to print magazines (and maybe Strange Horizons, but that’s an exception).

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Pay for short fiction as such? No. Pay for short fiction online? Yes.

    I’m 21.

    //JJ

  38. Samuel Tinianow on August 21st, 2008

    This is coming from a 23-year-old unemployed college grad.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    If the publisher consistently publishes material that I enjoy for free, then yes, absolutely. Of course, raising the minimum wage would help…

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but I’ve bought books on account of a story I read online. My magazine subscriptions tend more to be governed by who has the best promotional offer going on.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Not when Escape Pod does them for free. It’s not a terribly pressing issue, since I’ve never been a WorldCon or SFWA member anyway. Worst-case scenario, I can probably read them in a Year’s Best antho at the library.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    The only thing that’s ever made me less inclined to pay for short fiction was when a magazine I liked started to suck.

    I honestly think you may be looking in the wrong place here. At the end of the day, the purpose of a magazine is to promote interest in something. For me, the primary reason I read short fiction magazines was never anything other than to find out which authors I liked so I’d have a better idea of what books I’d like to buy. I also read them because I liked the stories, of course, but if that was the only reason then I would have just bought collections and anthos that had more stories in them and wouldn’t fall apart as easily.

    Far from devaluing short fiction, I think its availability for free online greatly increases the value of short fiction, because it allows me to rely more on my personal tastes and less on those of reviewers and bestseller lists.

    If you want to measure the effectiveness of a short fiction magazine, I’d think the way to do it would be by looking at book sales in addition to magazine sales, rather than magazine sales alone.

  39. Arachne Jericho on August 21st, 2008

    Age: 30

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I feel more inclined. The more stories online that I like, the more inclined I am. My threshold is around five.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I don’t subscribe to print magazines (and don’t even pick up print papers). This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t pay for digital content, given that it was high quality (content and readability). I figure that if Asimov’s puts online a few more stories recently that I like, I’ll subscribe via the Kindle. (The price for a monthly issue/subscription is just about right, digitally.)

    Or subscribe over Fictionwise, but Fictionwise is way less convenient than the Kindle, and my threshold would be higher I suppose. Or I might keep forgetting. I like things that automatically deliver themselves to my Kindle.

    I’m a computer geek. Automated things that work on cron jobs, essentially, make me happy.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Well, I would pay for them, because I’ve committed myself to doing reviews of Hugo stuff for the future, before the Hugo ceremony, so I can provide information to people and also be prepared myself for voting.

    If I were not in love/subscribing to the magazines in question already, this would … well … it is petty … but I would not be inclined to buy that magazine in the future. Nor would I recommend it to my friends. I wouldn’t complain, because there’s no point, but I would tend to black-hole all references to that magazine in my blog.

    Then again, my blog doesn’t matter, and neither does my opinion, and hey, it’s my choice to want to provide Hugo information in the future so I should be willing to pay the price and shut the hell up.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. It’s made me realize that I’m willing to buy short fiction if I’m more or less guaranteed of liking it. Since I got interested Hugos for this year, I’ve done something I haven’t done for over five years: bought two anthologies. Having more information helped me make a more informed choice, or at least I felt that way. This made me happy. I knew that editor John Klima, fer instance, had my tastes, despite never having heard of him before.

    That said, another deciding factor—but not one that would have made my decision had I not had access to the stories in question—was that the anthologies were available as ebooks. I have a two hour commute each way, and I read quickly, so ebooks have been a blessing to me.

    And that said, if I did have to pay a full issue’s cost to read one story, even if arguably it is possible to have to pay the full issue cost to find just one story you like in a bunch of stories anyways… I would not buy anything from that editor if I could help it.

    Yeah, yeah, I’m a stupid idiot. Some day I’ll grow up.

  40. Scott D on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    No, but I am likely to look for more by that author.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Yes, I probably would.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Short answer: No.
    I wouldn’t hesitate to pay for a reliable source of great short fiction.

    I’m 40 years old.

  41. Annalee Flower Horne on August 21st, 2008

    I’m 22 and just out of college.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? Absolutely. Publishers who support authors by offering their work online for free get more of my business than those that don’t. That doesn’t really help you, though, because what those publishers can do that you can’t is use their short fiction offerings as loss leaders for their books.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? The last print magazine to which I had an actual subscription was Guideposts for Children, and only then because my grandparents bought it. (It bears noting, however, that my family subscribes to a variety of print mags, but my mom doesn’t read short fiction online and I don’t get to decide what we subscribe to).

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? Honestly, no. I’m not willing to pay for an entire issue just to get at the few stories I actually want to read.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? No; I’m still happy to pay for short fiction. In fact, I would say that the internet provides publishers with the means to get me to pay for a lot more short fiction– I just haven’t seen very many publishers taking advantage of all the ways the internet can help them improve their business model. Selling pdf copies of the magazine at newsstand prices is all well and good, but if I didn’t buy it at the newsstand, I’m sure as heck not going to buy it at the same price online (especially not when I know that the magazine’s overhead is lower, because they didn’t have to print it, ship it, or try to predict the digital newsstand’s sell-through). I would love to see short fiction publishers offer a la carte options, or smaller bundles of two or three stories.

  42. M.A. Glazar on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Maybe not for that story, but I’ll keep an eye out (now there’s a gruesome turn of phrase…) for other work by that author, and happily pay for it when I find it.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, because I tend to come to websites after reading print mags.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No, because I subscribe already and so I have the stories.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    In my dreams…my web access is at the office, and I just can’t convince UCBerkeley to pay me for reading fiction at work. Damned unfriendly of them, I think.

    I will suggest this: it would be VERY COOL if, at the end of a year, I could pick out a dozen or so of my favorite F&SF stories and get them sent to me as a print-on-demand collection.

  43. Cynthia K. Dalton on August 21st, 2008

    1.When you read a story online line that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of that piece. No, but I am inclined to remember the author and look for other works.

    2. Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? No, However I do subscribe to JIm Baen’s Universe.

    3. If FS&F started charging the cost of an issue to read their Hugo and Nebula nominated stories would you pay? No.

    4. Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? No.

    I am 47 and female.

  44. Al Brown on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Nope, Like most of the public I don’t often pa any attention at all to who is the publisher of a book, article, short fiction or such. If I enjoyed a story I read I will almost certainly remember the name of the author and then Google is my friend. I would be very inclined to support an author that I like in the form of buying a book at one of my local book stores or Amazon if their work isn’t available at a local book store. BTW, no I won’t have Barnes & Noble or Borders order the book i will go home and order directly from Amazon at that point. If the publisher benefits from that good otherwise sorry.

    Now, if i buy a F& SF that has a story from an author that I liked then I am very likely to check for new stories from that author in the mag again. Sometimes that will mean that I buy the mag because I saw something interesting good otherwise I did look at what is in the issue in my hand at the time.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Nope. If I subscribe then it is because the mag has often provided me with material that was good. Often this means that the mag offers me good new stories from good new authors and not always stories from already published authors just to have their name on the front cover. Yes, if an already published author is providing a good story it will make me happy, a marginal story from a known author is going to make me regret that subscription.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    If I could perhaps buy a subscription for all the award nominated stories, Yes. Great idea to consolidate all of the best via a single subscription service. I’d buy that.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Nope, if anything I buy more. When I read an author that I like then I can and will go looking for their other available work and that leads me to purchase. Long ago I would buy books in the local stores pretty much based on the cover and the blurbs printed on them. Everyone knows how well that works or doesn’t, today I can surf for and read new authors and new material for free and make far better choices I believe.

  45. James Enge on August 21st, 2008

    “When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?”

    I’m inclined to seek out (and pay for) more work by the same author.

    “Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?”

    Sort of. I subscribed to one because of samples on its website.

    “Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?”

    Probably not. The truth is, I’m not very awards-minded and August often comes and goes without me being aware of who won a Hugo.

    “Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?”

    No, but it may have made me less inclined toward traditional fiction-magazine formats.

    The big winners in free giveaways seem to be book publishers: if I read _Space Snark!_ by Binky “Bosco” Sorenson for free online and like it, I may well buy _Galactic Megillah!_ by the same author (and maybe even a hardcopy of the first book, since I prefer real books). So while I’m thinking about the author and/or the series, it’s the publisher who’s counting most of the coins (or fighting over them with Amazon, anyway). I don’t think I’m unique in this way.

    As I say, this behavior would tend to benefit book publishers. But if free fiction giveaways were associated with specific volumes (like samples from a “Best of F&SF 2008″ or themed anthologies, like the ones you did about Mars and heroic fantasy), there might be a more direct bump in sales. And happy readers of the volumes might become new subscribers to the magazine. It’s a thought, anyway.

  46. Rose Fox on August 21st, 2008

    “When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?” Yep, that’s why I donate to Strange Horizons every year and have donated my time on their editorial side as well.

    “Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?” No, I’ve never subscribed to a print magazine at all.

    “Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?” No.

    “Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?” No, but I do think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made me less inclined to pay for paper magazines.

  47. Jaime on August 21st, 2008

    I’m in my 50′s and female.

    1. Yes, I do support online publishers. I contribute to fund drives and tip with paypal buttons. But most often I support the authors and seek out their work other places.

    2. No. Most of the online fiction I read is on strictly online sites.

    3. No, I wouldn’t pay to read Hugo noms or stories up for the Nebula online. Most of the authors post their work on their own sites to gather votes. And if I can’t vote or take part in the decision making, why pay to read the stories?

    4. This is the most complicated answer of all. The reason I’ve almost completely stopped buying print short fiction and read online doesn’t have anything to do with the cost. It’s because the stories published online are more likely to be the kind of fiction I want to read. That has been true for several years now.

    I used to buy F&SF, Realms and Asimov’s every month. It got to the point where if I liked one story in an issue that was a banner month. The stories I found were cold, distant and emotionless, and I rarely remembered them five minutes after I finished reading. Not what I wanted to spend money on each month.

    I could go to online zines like Strange Horizons, Ideomancer, Lone Star Stores and Fortean Bureau when they were publishing and find stories that made me think, made me remember them. That more than cost is why I made the switch to reading online. I found the kind of fiction I was looking to read.

  48. Eric on August 21st, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Occasionally, but probably not on the basis of a single story. I’m thinking mostly of Strange Horizons — if a site consistently publishes fiction that I read and enjoy, I want to make sure it’s there next week.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. Though I’ve discovered and eventually subscribed to several because of their strong web presences.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Not for the cost of an issue. Perhaps for a dollar or two.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    The exact opposite. I’ve purchased the short story collections of several authors whose work I first read online. There’s a trickle-down effect, too: if I come across an anthology or magazine issue including one of those writers, I’m much, much more inclined to pick it up.

    I’ve seen several writers try to use free short fiction this way (Jay Lake was posting stories on his blog semi-regularly for a while) and I think it makes a lot of sense — for authors in particular, but if executed correctly, for publishers as well. A publication like F&SF, where certain bigger-name writers can be expected to appear with some regularity, seems particularly well-suited to this sort of model. When I read “Pump Six” in the most recent issue, I went scrambling through back-issues to find Bacigalupi’s past F&SF entries, and then eventually bought the collection. I would’ve done the same thing if I’d read “Pump Six” for free online; if I weren’t already a subscriber, the virtual certainty that I’d see more Bacigalupi, Reed, Swanwick, etc would turn me into one.

  49. Aliette de Bodard on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Yes, and I often do so.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No. I have bought individual issues on account of stories I read on websites but never subscribed.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    Probably not. I guess it’s because I’m used to other stories of the same kind being free–and because while I tend to read award-nominated stories out of curiosity, I’m not curious enough to pay money for those.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Not really. I tend to pay for the short fiction I read online (either in the form of donations or buying online issues such as IGMS).

  50. Sherwood Smith on August 21st, 2008

    Age 57

    I really like being able to sample stories on-line. I don’t pay for stories online only because I don’t do paypal, and most are hooked up for that.

    If I like a story, I will seek more by that author. if the person is super popular, I’ll look for work used, because we have a tiny budget. If it’s an upcoming author, I make a point of buying at full price.

  51. David M. Crampton on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    If I can afford to do so, yes.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Nope, I don’t subscribe to print magazines. Now that I think about it, there’s no reason that I don’t. Maybe I should…

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I don’t like paying for online content. If I’m going to pay for it, I want hard copy.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Nope. Most of the short fiction I read (and post) is in alpha or beta… several drafts before publication. I mostly purchase novels, and rarely even publish anthologies of short fiction. While I do enjoy the occasional short story, sometimes a 600 page novel is too short for me, and I crave a trilogy or more.

  52. Mark J McGarry on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes, but perhaps not immediately. I have subscribed to magazines whose web sites consistently showcase interesting material.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    A single story? No. Many stories … yes. See first answer.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No, and it would be foolish of F&SF to do so. F&SF (and the authors of nominated stories) want a wide audience for just such works. Why erect a pay wall around them?

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. Despite my efforts, I am still read much more fiction on paper than online. I’ve even printed out material found online — particularly long newspaper or magazine articles.

    I am surprised that no short fiction magazine appears to have emulated the enormously successful iTunes model. If I read and enjoy a Ted Kosmatka story in the June issue, why can I not go to a web site and buy all the Kosmatka stories I’ve missed for, say, $1 each? Give a cut to the site, the print publisher and the author. And, at my option, the site will send me an e-mail notifying me of new Kosmatka stories.

    Why is there no prominent mention of the availability of F&SF on Fictionwise in the magazine itself? Why, if I subscribe to the print magazine, can I not receive an electronic version as well at either no additional charge or for a very small fee?

  53. David M. Crampton on August 21st, 2008

    Oh, whoops, forgot to include my age. I’m 31.

  54. Jonathan Miller on August 21st, 2008

    I think the big difference between the questions you’re asking and how Scalzi replied to your comment is reflected in a lot of the answers you’ve been getting to your first question. My answer would be the same as a lot of the others’: my first inclination on reading a story online that I enjoy would be to support the author, not the publisher (or “provider of the content” or whatever). I think free work online serves as a much better advertisement for creators than it does for publishers–unless, of course, the creator is associated with that publisher. (As an extreme example, if, say, a Tolkien story was published online and someone who wasn’t familiar with his work read it and enjoyed it, there’s no question Houghton Mifflin would reap the benefits as they’re the publishers of all of Tolkien’s work in the US.) But for an anthology magazine, I think there’s less direct association; say I enjoyed “The Political Prisoner.” My first inclination would probably be to see out more work by Finlay, rather than to buy a random issue of F&SF. (Which, incidently, is why your policy of reprinting stories that tie in to the current issue might work well as advertising more than having a general library of stories available.)

    I guess what I’m saying in my longwinded way is that I think putting work online for free ultimately benefits writers as advertising more than publishers. In short fiction, it’s writers that people tend to follow, after all, my subscription to F&SF notwithstanding.

    My age is 36, by the way, and I prefer reading things offline to on, but I will read free stuff put up written by authors I enjoy.

  55. Jennifer on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not for ONE story, if they had a consistent amount of good stories from issue to issue. (See below.)

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I generally don’t subscribe to short story magazines, period. I am not that into short stories as a general rule. Some are great, most are just okay. I prefer long plots over short stories overall.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Don’t know.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, because I was already pretty disinclined to pay for short fiction. I may get one short story collection (book) every other year, and that would only be if I really liked the author or the theme of the collaboration.

    Where short fiction online is a benefit is that I am more likely to look at it online than I am in a magazine, and will consider it as a singular entity rather than “hm, I liked one story out of 12 here.” I will take note of authors who did good short stories (especially if they did consistently) and keep an eye out for their other works, and that’s where I am likely to spend more money.

  56. Nadine A on August 21st, 2008

    1.Often. If I’ve read a piece of short fiction I like off a publisher website, I may well tip on PayPal say, or perhaps buy the next issue of that magazine I see, particularly if it has more work by the same author in it.
    2. No. I have limited space in my home and don’t want to use it on a lot of magazines. If an author I read has a story in one, or I saw something from that issue online that i’ve liked, I’ll buy an issue.
    3.As a Hugo voter, I expect to be able to read the nominees online free. I don’t mind providing a PIN or membership number, but i don’t expect to pay for that privilege. Frankly, any magazine doing this would be crazy, as many voters see a lot of the short fiction that way. I would guess that the same holds true for Nebula voters, but I’m not a SFWA member so can’t really speculate. However, if you put up several past winners, which are not easy to find in print anywhere, I might well pay for that.
    4.No. The bulk of the short fiction I buy is in anthologies, i would still continue to buy those. As far as magazines go, it really is dependant on the author. If you’ve got a story by someone I really like, I’ll buy it.

  57. Dave Thompson on August 21st, 2008

    Hi Gordon,

    Thanks for raising the topic. For the record, I just hit my thirties. I felt the aches almost instantly.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes. Listening to Escape Pod (actually all the Escape Artists podcasts) I definitely feel like contributing financially to them. It took me about a month or two to pony up the money, but I’ve made donations to them several times now.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes. I suscribed to Apex Digest after reading several stories on their site. Ironically, they are now an Electronic Publication.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Absolutely not. If it’s a Hugo story, I’ll hope it gets picked up by Escape Pod as a reprint. But I most likely wouldn’t pay to read that particularly story here. Maybe a friend will be gracious enough to let me borrow whatever magazine it came out in.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not really. I used to pick up the occasional issue of F&SF a few years ago but that was pretty much it. Now I’m paying far more money for short fiction. I’m subscribed to Weird Tales and Murky Depths. I’ve also made donations to the Escape Artists podcasts, Apex, Hub, and Coyote Wild. There’s several other magazines out there I’d also like to shoot some cash their way eventually.

    Hope this helps with your experiement!
    Dave

  58. Dawn b. on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Depends. My main method of Free Fiction online is Strange Horizons. Used to be SCIFICTION, as well. So, yes, after reading something good on one or both of those, I was usually more inclined to click an ad/participate in the fundraiser, note and promote the publisher to my friends. I’ve read some of the free reprints here on F&SF, but as I stopped subscribing years ago (cost and difference in editorial preferences) I haven’t seen enough that have brought me back wanting to subscribe. However, there were a few times where a story was truly excellent, so I did go buy an individual issue from Fictionwise to support that story.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Again, see above, but depends on how you define subscribe. I have given at the yearly Strange Horizons drive, but I haven’t re-subscribed to F&SF based on what I’ve read online.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. I believe the Hugo-Nominated should be free for a more level voting field. Nebulas, I can see adding a cost but not the full cost of the issue if it is just the single story. In fact, charging the cost of issue (w/o also giving me the full issue or cost of issue for ALL Hugo/Nebula-nommed story) for a single story would pretty much guarantee that I would never want to give money to F&SF again for that money gouge and I would never submit my fiction for publication because then if it were ever nominated (ha) I would have a fight as to my rights to provide it for free to the readers for voting.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I still buy Year of Anthologies, Collections by Authors and I’ve spot bought issues of F&SF and I’ve contributed to SH’s fundraiser. My inclination to buy short fiction print mags has dropped more due to a widening disparity in what I consider good fiction and what the editors of print magazines (versus the online ‘free’ magazines) consider good. Which is an editorial result, not a financial.

  59. Kevin Blake on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    No. I am going to support the producer of the content. The same is true of movies and music. I don’t care if my movies come from Warner Bros. or 2oth Century Fox. I am more interested in who wrote and who directed it.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? Nope.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? No.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? No. I was disinclined to pay for short fiction before it was available on line.

    I don’t subscribe to short fiction magazines(print or online)because most of it is drivel. I don’t buy a lot of anthologies for the same reason. (Libraries get my anthology business).
    To me short fiction should be the freebie tracks off an album. They give me a taste of the author without plunking down any money. I get a chance to decide if I want to read more of their stuff.
    The free fiction from Tor.com has added a few new authors to my to buy list that I had never read before.
    Also, I wonder if your point about series writing doesn’t also play into short fictions problems. We’ve been trained to expect epic tales. A short story is just an appetizer, and unless it’s set in a universe the writer is going to visit in novel or series form we are left wanting more (assuming its good).
    I don’t want to spend only 30 minutes with Harry Potter or Roland from King’s Gunslinger books, I want to spend hour after hour with them year after year.

    Those are my answers and thoughts(or at least some of them) on the issue.
    And I’m 43.

  60. Dawn b. on August 21st, 2008

    Ooops, my age is 25-30 and female.

  61. Christopher J. Garcia on August 21st, 2008

    The questions:

    First, if I read a story on-line do I feel likely to support the publisher? Not usually. There have been times when I’ve been so blown away that I’ve clicked a PayPal link or bought the issue, but it’s rare.

    Nope, I’ve never subscribed or even bought a magazine because of something I’ve read on-line. I don’t like to subscribe to something that’s so variable. There have been whole issues of magazines where I’ve found nothing of interest and then there’s a whopper of a story in one issue surrounded by the crap I don’t like. It’s one of the reasons I like the stuff that’s completely free because I’m not wasting money on issues where there’s nothing I want to read.

    I would absolutely not pay to read the Hugo nominees, and I say this as a guy who does an issue of his zine every year that requires him to compare all the nominees. It’s just not what I’d pay for. I’d borrow an issue from a friend or if I’m desperate, buy a back issue off the table at a con for a buck or something.

    I’m a short fiction junky, but the amount on-line hasn’t had an effect on my willingness to pay for it or not. I’m almost never buying new short fiction, mostly I get used bookstore antholgies or borrow copies of older issues. The last time I actually bought an issue of any mag, it was the January F&SF because I had a BART ride coming up and no books in the car. I’d probably be less likely to read as much short fiction if I had to pay full price for it, but that’s just ’cause I’m one of those ‘somethin’ for nothin’” types, I guess.
    Chris

  62. Donna on August 21st, 2008

    1. When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    By “support” do you mean subscribe? or make a donation? or purchase other stories individually? I would say “not necessarily, but possibly”.

    2. Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No.

    3. Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I doubt it.

    4. Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I don’t feel entitled to getting stories for free. I’m willing to pay money for something I enjoy. (And I do; I buy lots of books & magazines.) For me, the critical factor is whether I think a story or book (or a lineup of stories in a magazine) will be good. The expectation that a story or book will be good goes way up after I have read something by the same author that was excellent. That’s when I’ll actively seek out more by the same author. I’m not saying I don’t try a story by a writer I don’t know; I DO read books and stories by new authors. But if I think a story was really bad, I’ll hold a grudge and avoid them in the future. By the way, my number 1 reason for disliking a story is that it is familiar — a clone of a story I’ve read many times before. Many of the magazines are currently publishing the same kind of story. I’m finding Weird Tales very uninteresting now and will not resubscribe.

    In my 40s and female!

  63. Pam McNew on August 21st, 2008

    *When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes. I’ve donated to fund drives and given for individual stories.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I don’t think so. I do know that I have subscribed to magazines because of a web presence and positive buzz. Actually, I’ve subscribed to a good number of publications this way. Argosy, The Third Alternative, Electric Velocopide, Tale Bones, Lady Churchill’s Rose Wristlet, Shimmer and Apex come immediately to mind.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I have already read them prior to nomination, so this isn’t an issue for me. Let’s say, if this wasn’t so, would I pay an issue price, maybe. Who is the author?

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No.

    I am 50 years old.

  64. Jeff on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    By purchasing their other works – usually. I’ve bought alot of Scalzi’s stuff for this reason. I’ve rarely ever used a “tip jar” type approach to paypal, mostly because I don’t like dealing with PayPal.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. I’ve also never subscribed to a print magazine of short fiction. If we jumped topics to motorcycles, then yes. But you expressly said that doesn’t count.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I don’t see why I would. I’ve never been a big follower of the Hugo and Nebula awards though. I’ve never sought out any work because they are nominated for, or have won, either of these awards. However, I have sought out books recommended to me by people I trust that are nominees (see Scalzi’s “The Big Idea”)

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Depends. I have a hard time justifying buying online words, as I hate reading stories online. I’ll almost always find a book instead. I also prefer novel length fiction – PDF’s just aren’t very readable. Again a good example is Scalzi’s “Agent to the Stars” which was good but I didn’t finish because of the format. I’ll buy it soon in dead tree form though. (Sorry for all the Scalzi refs – I came here from The Whatever, and it’s on my brain.)

    I’m a 28 year old man with 2 children.

  65. Nora on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Obligated, not just inclined. If I want to see more good stuff, I know I have to support it.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. But then I’ve never seen free fiction on the site of a print magazine I was interested in. Didn’t know F&SF had done it ’til you said it here. I suppose that if I was already thinking about investing in a print magazine, seeing a free sample might help me decide.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. Too many other ways to get them free, including from the authors’ own sites, since most authors hoping for an award are interested in eyeballs, not dollars. Eyeballs = long term dollars.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I pay for most of the short fiction I read online, even though it’s ostensibly free. I donate to Strange Horizons and Escape Artists, which consistently give me good stuff and are therefore worth supporting. I do occasionally read free works on other sites that I don’t yet donate to, but that’s because I don’t yet know whether they’re going to provide sufficient consistently-good content to be worth supporting. When I find a good thing, though, I pay for it.

    I prefer trying-before-I-buy (which the free model really is, for me) to buying-before-I-try (which is how I view the old pay-to-read/print model).

  66. Patrick Rennie on August 21st, 2008

    32 and male.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Creators first. The publishers only get noticed if they repeatedly present me with things I want to read. Even then, they take a back seat to the creators. However, I have no objections to looking at ads on the same page as the story, anymore than I object to television or radio ads.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No magazines, but I haven’t followed short stories for over a decade. However, Baen’s free library has led me to a dozen paperback purchases so far. In addition, I own 21 collections of webcomics for 6 different strips. That number would be higher, but not every webcomic I read has put out a collection yet.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. I don’t follow any awards enough to be interested.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Certainly. I’m far more willing to pay with my eyeballs for something online, than I’m willing to pay cash.

    If you haven’t read it yet, I’m going to recommend “How to Make Webcomics,” by Guigar, Kellet, Kurtz, and Straub. All four are webcomic professionals, and two of them do it as their fulltime job. The book spends a fair amount of time examining the business side of the art – which means they’re talking about the nuts and bolts of making money by delivering fiction over the internet. It’s more creator oriented than publisher oriented, but its clear to me than some of it could certainly repurposed to your purposes.

  67. E Thomas on August 21st, 2008

    Demographics info: Human, female, mid-twenties, already a F & SF subscriber, not a huge fan of online fiction vs. in-my-hands-on-paper fiction.

    ==

    “When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?”

    First, I don’t really read much fiction online. It’s like pulling teeth to get me to do so. Anyway, it depends on the venue, I suppose. I’m pretty sure I have given James Patrick Kelly a tip for his online audio fiction before–but in that case, the author and the publisher were the same, so it might not be a great analogy. I don’t think there is any other site that has offered enough fiction that I have loved where I have been moved to directly support them. Mostly, to echo what other people say, is I would look for more output by the author in book form (although I have subscribed to a magazine that I hadn’t ever read in the past when I saw that it had regular stories by some favorite authors of mine).

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. I rarely read the free reads that a magazine’s site offers, and most of the magazine sites that I am aware of that have free fiction are magazines I have subscriptions to anyway.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No, absolutely not…well, if I was voting that year, I might feel forced to do so to provide a fair vote…but I would be irritated.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, I am definitely paying for short fiction…and it is definitely worth it.

  68. Robin on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not support, necessarily, but usually one good story will motivate me to check out other offerings. I’m far more likely to buy based on advertising if I know they’ve done other things I liked. Also, a well organized site with multiple offerings can make me feel like a publisher’s product is an investment I’ll enjoy. If I can spend a day surfing and not get bored with it, I know the products will hold my interest.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Not necessarily for one story – although I did subscribe to Arabella based on a sample offering that made me pick up the magazine at Borders a number of years ago. I tend to have an “after 3″ policy, where after 3 subsequent free things that I enjoy by a particular for-profit venture, I figure it’s a good investment and go ahead and sink the money in.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Nope. I prefer to pay for physical copies. I can be swayed by an ebook I can download, but the thought of sending money in for something nebulous that might or might not have servers up when I want to read tonight, or two years later when I remember that I *paid* for that already…not so much. I could probably be swayed if it was a monthly subscription where the stories went up and down, and were short enough to read in a sitting, but to me paying for quality fiction is very motivated by the desire to *own* a copy. I sit in front of a computer enough at my job that reading online is not at all convenient for me.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not at all. I’m not a big short story person to begin with, but I do like to own them, especially when they’re associated with a beloved series or by a favorite author. I place a lot more faith in physical copies than in online stuff, because a physical copy assures that *someone* thought it was worth publishing, which… a lot of online content isn’t. Online fiction strikes me as disposable, but I can tell myself that the purchase of a book or an ebook is an investment. Years down the line I can look at even an ebook and read it again, which I can’t with online content.

    I’m female, 27, and enjoying an engineer’s income. Your best shot at getting money out of me is probably to show me a few free things that I can sample at my leisure online, and then give me a link to where I can pay for a physical product to appear in my mailbox monthly. I wouldn’t be upset by the scenario you describe where a person requesting an old story is told he must buy a copy, because I feel that what you are paying for when you buy a book is permanency. If you only want to read it once – and for free – get thee to a library. Otherwise, hope it re-enters free sample rotation, shrug at the missed opportunity and hand over the money, or realize you must have really not wanted it that much anyway.

  69. Dave Bara - 48 on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    >I’m pretty mercenary. I’m loyal to authors and/or the stories themselves, but not necessarily to the publisher.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    >No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    >No. If it’s something I want to read, I’ll buy it, regardless of format. Just because it’s nominated for an award doesn’t mean I’d choose to read it, or especially pay a premium for it.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    >No.

  70. Brian Williams on August 21st, 2008

    1) yes – really more support the author, but I recognize that that supporting the publisher is a good way to do that. Also, half the time I’ve read fiction online, it was the author hosting it themselves.

    2) No, because I don’t subscribe to print magazines as they take up too much space that I don’t have – I have enough trouble fitting all the books I own in the house. I do subscribe to two *Electronic* magazines – both by Baen Books, Jim Baen’s Universe and the Grantville Gazette. If I found good stories for free on another magazine’s site, and I could subscribe to an electronic copy, I’d do so.

    3) No. I might pay a small fee, but if I’m being charged the cost of an issue, I want the whole issue in electronic format. Particularly because the award-winning stories aren’t necessarily the ones I’d really enjoy, it’s kind of hit or miss for me. I would pay the price of an issue for a downloadable copy of the whole issue however. Only if it’s not copy-protected though – if it’s locked to a device I may lose, break, or upgrade, I won’t spend the money on it. I won’t do anything illegal with it, but I resent being treated as though I will. On the other hand, a publisher who puts out good fiction in an unsecured format will win my loyalty – nearly all of my money for books at the moment goes to Baen for this reason.

    4) Heck no – yes, there’s a lot of free short fiction online, but I’ll happily pay for quality short fiction. That’s why I subscribe to the Baen e-magazines, I know that I’ll get enough stories that I enjoy for it to be worth the money for me.

    As for age, I’m 28.

  71. Clint Harris on August 21st, 2008

    At the risk of being a pain, I’m just going to talk about my impressions of online vs. print magazines. Like many of us, I live on a tight budget. Yes, it would be great to subscribe to every print magazine I encounter, but that’s not economically feasible. I often buy on the newsstands based solely on cover art, familiar names, or knowing if someone I’ve talked to in an online venue is in the issue. In that case, it’s writers supporting writers as fans. I don’t see any harm in that.

    I read online free-zines more than I do anything I can buy at the newsstand. If I’m at work, I can take ten minutes, read a story, and pop back into whatever project I was working on before. It doesn’t cost anything, and somehow, the money materializes out of thin air for writers and publications just by my simple click. I don’t know HOW this works, but I believe sorcery may be involved.

    With online magazines too, I don’t feel burned if I don’t see anything that especially resonnates with my sense of wonder and imagination. It was free, after all. If I happen to like what I see from an author, chances are, I will check out their website, find out more of their works, try to find them at the library and read more. If they don’t have the book at the library, I will probably buy it. There is a good chance I will recommend the book if I like it. It’s 100% win at this point. If I read something in a print magazine, the same process might be true, but if the story sucks (which sometimes they do) I will probably resent having dropped $6 on a magazine and will probably never go any further with their works than that issue. There is also a good chance I won’t buy another copy of that magazine again if that author is a headliner. It betrays my sense of trust in a way. I trust that I’m giving up my movie money for a story that I hope will just blow my mind. If I’m not impressed, I feel like I got screwed out of watching a matinee of The Dark Knight. And considering how everyone says that movie rocks the house, I will be doubly pissed off.

    I don’t trust awards either. There are anthologies loaded with stories I haven’t cared for that have won tons of little gold-plated rocket ships and crystal paperweights. Good writing impresses me. Big names don’t impress me unless they continuously deliver. Which the bigger the name, the less love and strength they put into their craft. Sometimes it’s obvious an editor said “That’s the ticket!” and put a middling work into a magazine for hopes that die-hard fans would be beside themselves to pick up the fourth printing of a short story their favorite uber-writer cranked out in 1977. I am a firm believer that Big Name does not equal Good Name. Sometimes it does, of course.

    A lot of the free magazines I read online have a lot of heart. They have less pressure to be the industry standard. They can be very experimental, which can put people off when their beer money is at stake. There is less pressure to avoid experiment. This allows the genre to adapt, I think, and revitalizes the content we get to see. There is a reason SF has progressed beyond the Buck Rogers rocket stories of the 50′s and heroes are now complex creatures instead of serialized static characters who never lose, who never escape the formula of what sells to the mainstream print markets. SF is stronger for it, I believe. It’s just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

    Would I donate? You bet. Would I spread the word and tell my friends. I already have many times. It’s just a part of what makes web-presence so great. Fans get to be involved. They can take place in discussions online. They can submit their own works and build a name for themselves. There is less pressure with the market to have a known name on the cover or TOC. People are there only for the fiction, not the fandom. It’s like going to a local club to see a garage band before some big label signs them. It’s like watching the Farm Club baseball team play their guts out before the sponsors and professional teams start throwing millions of dollars at them.

    It’s an interesting time to be alive. And an interesting time to be involved in the SF community. I am a 33 year old man, and guilty of slaking my thirst for good (and bad) fiction with he internet.

  72. Ronald on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Yes. I think it’s natural for people to want to support excellence when they recognize it.
    But I also want to support the writer, and I think the publisher has the most to gain when the two wants are aligned.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No. But I read John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War when he released it for free. I liked it a lot and now I buy all his fiction books. I never would’ve tried him out if that first book hadn’t been free.
    If Old Man’s War had been a mediocre read for me, I wouldn’t have bought the other books. So, on a reader like me, Scalzi had nothing to lose–but everything to gain.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    No. If anything, your best work needs to be out there for people to read.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No, but sites like Strange Horizons have high quality fiction for free. A lot of authors make their works available for free too. There’s a lot to choose from, more than I can read.
    If I read a free story by a writer I really like, I’ll pay for their other work. If it’s a mediocre work for me…I’ll just move on. But I’d do the exact same thing if I’d purchased that first story. My behavior as a consumer doesn’t change.
    It’s like watching The Office. I bit torrent the episodes as they’re aired for numerous reasons. But when the season DVD set comes out, I buy it. I feel like I need to support quality programming.

  73. Helen Keeble on August 21st, 2008

    *When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Depends on the publisher. For somewhere like Strange Horizons, which is relying on a fund drive model, I will donate some money. For a small press, I might buy some books (particularly if it’s the only way I can get a certain author). For Asimov’s/F&SF/Analog? I feel more favourably inclined towards magazines that put some sampler fiction online, but I very rarely go out of my way to buy a magazine issue in consequence. This is mainly due to availability issues, though – I am in the UK and it is prohibitively expensive to take out subscriptions to the US magazines.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. I am not a US resident, and subscriptions for overseas are generally far too high for me to consider. (I have looked at the cheaper electronic subscriptions, but they have not been attractive enough for me to buy. Mainly because I don’t have a portable device on which to read ebooks – I have no problem with reading from a screen, but I want to be able to carry a magazine around with me)

    (Podcasts are brilliant for short fiction – I would probably be more willing to buy a magazine in podcast form than in ebook form)

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. I generally can’t vote in the Hugo and Nebulas anyway, and the stories will usually be collected in anthologies at the end of the year. (and a lot of what ends up on the Hugo/Nebula ballots isn’t to my tastes, in any event)

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Yes, I suppose. It makes me less inclined to buy a print magazine, because I can get the types of stories I enjoy easier and cheaper online. I also very seldom buy a piece of fiction online, in terms of paying for something before I have read it. However, I do donate money to sites that I particularly enjoy.

    I am 28.

  74. Bob Roman on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    That’s a doubly qualified No. First qualification is that I feel inclined to support the author; if the means of doing so is to purchase a copy from the publisher presenting the story, I may do that. I bought a two year subscription to Baen’s JBU for just that reason. Second qualification is that the presupposed circumstances are rare; for every short story that I read and like, there are typically ten that I force myself through because I paid for them, or stop midway because I didn’t.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No. I don’t like the magazine format, they tend to be flimsy and hard to store. I have subscribed to an online magazine (JBU) and have purchased novels or story collections in hard copy to get stories I read online. I purchased most of the Bolo collections and novels for that reason.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    No. Not only no but hell no.
    If F&SF put a few of their best stories online for free in perpetuity, it might entice me to buy a subscription to an electronic format magazine. If they were good enough, it might even entice me to buy a subscription to a physical magazine. If you show me three or four top notch stories for free, I’m emotionally likely to believe that you’ve got some other good content behind the curtain, so I’ll pay whatever it takes to get it, even as intellectually I know that those stories are unlikely to be as good as the free ones. The consumer mentality is that the seller shows the best he has, what you actually receive will be somewhat worse than that.
    As for awards, I’m not impressed. There have been years where every nominee was worth the cost of a novel, and years when every nominee wasn’t worth my time to read. In both types of years, exactly one novel one. My point here isn’t that I think the awards are good or bad, it’s that they really give me no idea whether I will like your stories enough to purchase them.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    I don’t believe so. Prior to reading short fiction online, I never bought short fiction, because my previous experiences in libraries and loaner magazines showed me the quality was below that of the novels I prefer. Since I’ve been exposed to a wider variety for free, I’ve found authors and compilations that I like, so I’ve begun buying them, probably about 1 anthology or online subscription / donation a month. I still avoid actual magazines, but that’s a dislike of the format.

    I’m 37

  75. Brian M Oldham on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes. Online fiction, both short and long, has lead me to buy print editions.
    The “Baen Free Library” and webscription are dangerous places for people who love to read.
    I’ve started works online, and then gone and bought the book or magazine, ’cause paper is just a better reading experience.
    http://www.baen.com/library/
    http://www.webscription.net/

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes.
    Magazines can be carried with you anywhere, put on the nightstand, bookmarked easily, and shared.
    I don’t have to think about how I’m using a magazine, if it’s charged, if it has wifi, if there’s too much direct sunlight, or wait for it to boot, or have to launch the reader and then the story.
    It’s faster and more fun to use paper.
    Plus, good paper actually has a nice luminosity.
    There’s also the tactile experience of paper, and scent of it.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Probably.
    I try to read all of the nominees every year.
    I doubt that the price of a happy meal or fancy coffee would change that.
    (This from a vegetarian who only drinks black coffee, so I’ve probably got the change.)

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No.
    I don’t read much fan fiction, and many of the authors I read online, are name authors, that I also pay to read.
    For example, Tachyon is publishing short story collections, including one wit Michael Moorcock that I’m planning on picking up, and they’re also doing a collection of essays by Cory Doctorow, many of which I’ve probably already read for free.
    http://www.tachyonpublications.com

  76. Scott Edelman on August 21st, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    No. But then, I take the same attitude with my TV watching, all of which is DVR’d. I fast-forward through commercials there and don’t feel obligated to buy Cheetos.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but that’s more because I already subscribe to the print mags, and there’s no need for me to read any online fiction except that fiction which exists only online.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I wouldn’t need to, since I already subscribe.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I pay for the short fiction that I am required to pay for, and read for free that which I can read for free. Except for the bulletin boards, I ignore the online components of magazines which have a paper incarnation.

    The missing question for me is: “If F&SF existed as an online magazine only, would you be willing to pay for access?” My answer to that is yes.

  77. Jack Tingle on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    No, only the author.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    Only if that was the only way.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Yes, definitely. There is so much decent sf available for free, that the competition for my attention is very great.

    Regards,
    Jack Tingle

  78. Jeff Beeler on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I would be more incline to look to them for more writing that I might like whether in print or electronic form.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Only if that was the only way to read them and I was voting in the Hugos that year.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, lack of time and ability to read fiction in general has curtailed my purchases of short fiction.

  79. Marti on August 21st, 2008

    *When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes but in a roundabout way via the author. Generally speaking, the short fiction I choose to read online is written by authors I’m already familiar with.

    *Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, although I’ve been tempted a couple of times. I’ve subscribed to F& SF in the past (as well as Ellery Queen) but this was well before online access. I haven’t picked up a print magazine recently–I’m more of a novel type of girl.

    *Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Nope, mostly because I prefer hard copies and if I truly wanted to read the story I’d wait to buy the anthology it was included in.

    *Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Nope, only because I’m not a huge reader of short fiction.

    I’m 41 and female.

  80. Mona on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I don’t think I will ever use the ‘tip jar’ for a print magazine (for a venue like “Strange Horizons,” yes), but I recently bought “New Amsterdam” by Elizabeth Bear based on the audio version of a story from that collection which Subterranean released online. Same thing with buying “Little Brother” after listening to the audio reading of Cory Doctorow’s “After the Siege”. So, overall it seems like I’m more likely to use short fiction as a spring board to new authors and brought about purchases to benefit them, not necessarily the story’s publisher.

    However, I’m much more likely to bookmark the publisher’s page and much more likely to continue visiting them. Then, if they publish book reviews or news and use amazon links, I make an effort to click on those (and I do make quite a few purchases this way from the Locus Online site).

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but this may be because I am not looking for any more magazine subscriptions. I just don’t have enough time to read any more. I would consider buying single issues, however.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No, the awards themselves do not make a story “must-read” for me; they merely recommend them as good entertainment.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, I don’t think it’s changed my tendency to pay. If anything it may increase it since I’m reading more short fiction now, online, than I did before it became prevalent. I used to only read short fiction in anthologies and decided that I wanted to read more of the form. So I tried a subscription to F&SF, but I canceled it after a year because I had read only two complete issues during that time (I still haven’t gotten through the remaining ones) and a few book reviews from other issues. I followed this with a subscription to Realms of Fantasy based on the strength of the articles by Terry Daltow on myth and fairy tale. I do tend to read more from that magazine, maybe because the stories seemed shorter, but also because the glossy magazine look vs. paperback form apparently works better for me and short fiction.

    But now I find myself reading and listening to more short fiction online than I ever did before. One limitation is that on the computer I’m much less likely to read anything nearing a novella, but I will listen to longer works.

    26 years

  81. Justin Adair on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I do usually feel inclined to support authors I like, but by buying their published work. If it’s by a writer I know, or I “discover” a new writer whose story I like, I generally try and seek out those author’s written works, which I then buy.

    The exception would be short story anthologies. Once a number of good stories by a certain author or in a certain genre are available in one tradeprint or paperback, I generally will pick those up. Some examples of authors whose published short story works that I own are are Neil Gaiman, Ted Chiang, and Joe Hill.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    I would say no, mostly because I wasn’t buying much short fiction in the first place. So far though, I’ve found a lot of my favorite authors and am adding to that list regularly because of the abundance of new short stories coming out all the time online. I think of short stories more as a showcase of an author’s abilities to write, tell a good story, and/or make me think or see the world in a new way. When that happens, those authors usually jump to the top of my “must-read” list, so I feel like I am repaying the author for their shorter works in that way.

    A few authors I probably wouldn’t be reading regularly if I hadn’t read one of their free short stories first:

    Michael Marshall Smith
    Terry Bisson
    Robert Charles Wilson
    John Scalzi (though AttS wasn’t a short story per se)
    Jeffrey Ford

    The list goes on.

  82. Tziedel on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not only the publisher, but also the writer – it is a wonderful way to learn about new or- new-to-me writers.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. If I haven’t already read the story elsewhere, I wait until it is published as part of a year’s best anthology.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    On the contrary – my purchasing of anthologies and single-author collections has increased over the last year due to free on-line writings.

    If the website has a contribution button, I do contribute.

    Female, 54

  83. Casz on August 21st, 2008

    I came here via Whatever.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes I do. Often, if I like the story I will purchase the many other stories by the author either in print, electronic or audible form and be more inclined to read other authors from the same publisher.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I have not subscribed to a print magazine but I have subscribed to Universe (on the Baen site) since it’s inception.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Probably not. I don’t like micropayments and I can’t vote anyway.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not at all. I enjoy re-reading stories and fitting reading in when I have short blocks of time but no computer available. I like to purchase anthologies because I can read as many short stories as I have time available. When travelling I would pick up a sci fi mag if it was available.

    I am 47. I’ve had a library card since I was 9. I’ve been reading for “free” a long time and still have so many books I have to cull the library every year or so.

  84. JimR on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    If it’s a good piece, I want to support the author–thus, I will support the publisher to keep the good work coming.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No. I live in Japan, so I don’t have a lot of luck subscribing to print magazines. I have, however, decided to regularly read an online magazine and click their ads and donate when I read good fiction. See #1.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    No no no.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Yes and No. When I was in High School, I subscribed to F&SF and bought a few anthologies. Then, time got in the way and couldn’t keep it up. I stopped reading short fiction pretty much altogether. Now, I read tons of it. I don’t pay for a lot of it, but the good stuff I do my best to support. So, instead of taking short fiction in lumps, I can take it on a story by story basis.
    The point is, the market has changed. It’s become small scale now. Individual stories rather than magazines, and micro-payments for access.
    It’s good for authors, bad for old fashioned publishing.

  85. K.C. Shaw on August 21st, 2008

    “When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?”

    Why should I do that? If I see a movie I like, I don’t decide to see more Warner Bros. movies. (Although I do see everything Pixar releases.) When I read a story I like, I seek out more fiction by the same author.

    “Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?”

    No. I haven’t subscribed to a fiction magazine in probably twenty years, and in fact I don’t buy them from the newstand anymore either. I used to pick up F&SF every few months, but I stopped several years ago when I realized most issues didn’t contain any stories I liked.

    “Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?”

    No, and others have covered the many reasons why charging for these stories would be a really stupid move.

    “Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?”

    No. Most of the free fiction online is not very good–with many notable exceptions, of course. But there’s an awful lot of crap on the internets, and the good stuff is hard to find. Most of the short fiction I read, I either pay for (primarily print anthologies) or get for free via contributing author copies.

    I don’t read a whole lot of short fiction anyway. I like novels–an author can do so much more with character development and worldbuilding in a book than in a short story. I’d like to see more novellas available, incidentally. Novellas have most of the positive aspects of both short stories and novels. I find myself nostalgic for the days when the spines of fantasy MMPBs weren’t three inches wide.

    Oh, and I’m 38.

  86. Paul Raven on August 21st, 2008

    With my bush-league editor’s hat on, and skipping your formatted questions, I can say I’m pretty positive that people are less willing to pay money to read short fiction. But they’re willing to put up with ads, occasionally donate, spread the word and so on. If Futurismic had F&SF’s readership figures, we could run a pro-rate story every week on ad income alone, at no cost to the reader.

    Back to your questions:

    I try to support publishers both print and online as much as I can afford to. As a struggling freelance and editor, though, that’s rarer this year than the years previously.

    Very few print mags have produced enough enticing freebies online to get me to subscribe; I’ve subscribed because of WOM recommendations, though.

    If you charged for your award-nominated stories, I’d be even less likely to read them than the free-to-read ones that I don’t have the time spare for. Low-hanging fruit, and all that.

    Yes and no; I’m less wiling to play the grab-bag pick-and-mix that a magazine provides when I can browse around and find individual stories that are more to my taste. That said, once I find an author I like, I make a point of buying their books whenever I can afford to.

    Thirty-one-and-a-half, sf web publisher. ;)

  87. Jeff LeBlanc on August 21st, 2008

    1) When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Support? I guess you mean like a tip jar or a funding drive, right? Occasionally.

    2) Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I wouldn’t subscribe based on one story. I’m sometimes inclined to buy an issue or two from the newsstand if I see consistently good offerings online.

    3) Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Likely not. I already buy the “year’s best” anthologies from Dozois and Hartwell/Cramer, which often include several Hugo/Nebula nominees. The freebies have led me to magazines/publishers that I’ve not tried before.

    4) Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Nope. I still buy plenty of short fiction anthologies and magazines (including a subscription to F&SF). I’ve also bought individual stories through Fictionwise .

  88. N. Davis on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    - Instead I usually end up supporting the author, by purchasing their novels or collections of their short fiction. (For me, short fiction, usually read in anthologies or online, tends to serve as a gateway drug to buying and reading print versions of longer works by the author or collections of their short fiction.)

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    - No. But I’ve bought books or suggested that my local libraries buy books based on short fiction on magazines’ sites.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    - No. Though I like being able to read them online for free before the awards, and they may very well lead me to buy the author’s works in book format.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    - No. I don’t buy that much short fiction compared to novels, but the online free short fiction I like makes me buy the author’s other fiction (novels or collections of their short fiction). While the online free short fiction I sample and don’t like means I get to avoid “wasting money” on buying fiction — based on reviews or cover copy — by an author I end up not liking the voice of.

    F, 36

  89. Mark Whybird on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I feel inclined to support the author. Happy to pay the publisher their cut for this.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I will still buy a compilation of short stories, and the likelihood of my buying one is enhanced if I regognise an author or even an actual story that I read and enjoyed on my phone – it shows me that the compilation is likely to fit with some of my tastes.

    * Age: pushing fourty.

  90. Den Dotson on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I try to. I hope to someday soon make a living as a writer myself, so that probably has something to do with it.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Nope. All of the print magazines of scifi and fantasy I subscribed to because I tried an issue first by buying it in a good ol fashioned store. By the way, I do subscribe to most of the print magazines available in the bookstore.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Probably not, by the time most stories are nominated for an award I have already read them. As I just mentioned I subscribe to and read almost all the magazines.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I have to be honest most of the free fiction on the internet is worth every penny they are charging for it. I think that if most of the writers on the internet could get their stuff published in a print magazine they would, and I think anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves or us.

    I am 43 years old. Thanks for asking.

    And while I have your eyeballs for a second, great job on the magazine Gordon. I someday hope to be honored by seeing my work in a magazine, someone paid for, that holds all of us to the high standards of F and SF.

  91. John Harrold on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    In general I don’t like print magazines. I’m very fond of digital subscriptions. I’d rather be able to have access to a pdf than a magazine that will eventually just end up on a pile some day.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    I’m willing to pay for digital content of all sorts.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Nope. It’s a balance of quality over quantity. There may be a whole lot out there, but that doesn’t mean it is good. I’m willing to pay a premium to have somethign that has been vetted.

    I’m 33 years of age.

  92. JW Johnson on August 21st, 2008

    Sort of on subject and sort of not. What do you think of posting free stories on line and using ad revenue to pay for it? Like television stations do. I know small sites with few readers would have a hard time of it but surely big name magazines could get some sponsors.

  93. Joe Sherry on August 21st, 2008

    29. Male.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not based on just one story. A really great story will cause me to seek out more fiction from the author and may lead me to purchase one of their books, but this supports the author and not the publisher.

    It will take a publisher consistently publishing exceptional fiction for me to feel a special inclination towards the publisher. Some markets do this well and I support them more often than not by purchasing single issues of their magazines (subscriptions can be more of financial hardship).

    What this really does is begin to create a feeling of trust towards the publisher. I trust that when Subterranean Online comes out with a new issue that I will enjoy most of the stories and be stunned by one or two. I am willing to purchase the few print issues they produce and I know that when Subterranean puts out a book, it is likely to be of high quality. A publisher which only puts out a magazine may be a tougher sell because it may be more difficult to brand that publisher in my mind.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes, partly. I read some good stories at Weird Tales and when they ran a great deal on a trial subscription, I jumped in. I don’t subscribe to Electric Velocipede, but the fiction Klima has put up for free helped me purchase single issues. Actually, the Award nominated stories at Asimov’s pushed me towards a short subscription of that magazine, but the rest of the magazine was not nearly as good as I had hoped.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    For the price of an issue? Absolutely not. For $1.00 per story: Yeah, I probably would. Short stories and novelettes can’t possibly sell for more than a dollar, and I might be willing to go higher for a novella by a known author. By an unknown you’re back to a buck and I’ll give it a shot (this goes for unknown fiction as well as the Award stuff).

    On the other hand, I think that publishing the stories online for free is the best advertising you can do for F&SF.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not at all. I’ve been more motivated by purchase issues as I can because of all of the free fiction I’ve read online. I’ve discovered authors I’d never have read before (Jennifer Pelland, Mary Robinette Kowal, Joe Lansdale, and many, many more), and I’m on the lookout for their work in collection, anthology, and in magazines. High quality free fiction online has driven me to open my wallet (as I can).

    I’m sure many people are reading stories for free and not spending any money on short fiction, but were these people spending money on short fiction to begin with? I doubt it. We read what we can, when we can, we use libraries (which does add sales on a smaller scale), and maybe someday one year or ten years down the road when we’re in a stronger place, we might be able to buy some magazines or anthologies.

  94. Monica on August 21st, 2008

    I’m 27 years old.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Sure! Though usually it’s only by word-of-mouth, since they don’t ask for money.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. But I’ve also never subscribed to any print magazines, period.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not necessarily. I’ll always shell out for a Le Guin collection; I don’t care if she posts her entire canon online. But if it’s new writers I’m not familiar with, then I won’t pay for their short fiction on the basis of the magazine name. I’ll pay for it only if I hear them highly spoken of by one or more sources – friends, reviews, etc.

  95. Elizabeth Coleman on August 21st, 2008

    I’m 29, and don’t read much short fiction. I admit I mainly buy print magazines out of a desire to support them, rather than an actual enthusiasm for the content. But I do like to read online short stories on my breaks at work, since it’s easy to download them and read them unobtrusively on the screen. Sampling a magazine’s work online would make me more inclined to support the print edition, and if I liked an author online, then when I saw their name on a magazine, I’d be more likely to get it.

    I am one of those 49,000-odd people who read After the Coup. I like short stories in a bigger world. That’s probably one of the reasons I like novels over short stories–I like being immersed in a world.

  96. Allison on August 21st, 2008

    Stats: female, mid-30s

    1) I often start buying novels from authors whom I first discovered through free works online. However, that’s the AUTHOR, not the publisher, getting supported.

    2) No, I wouldn’t have time to read it during the school year; keeping up with Locus is hard enough!

    3) I might pay to read them, but I would probably just not pay and not vote for them at the awards. I know that I can read them in the Years Best anthologies (which come out after the awards season for some reason) and I would just feel that the publisher wasn’t supporting the authors in their nomination. I agree with the commenter who said, “It would leave a bad taste in my mouth.”

    4) Since I’ve never bought much short fiction, aside from 2 or 3 anthologies every year… no, the availability of free short fiction has made me happy but it hasn’t altered my purchasing habits.

  97. Shane Keene on August 21st, 2008

    I’ve numbered the answers in the order the questions were listed. I’m too lazy to cut and paste them

    1) Yes. If a publication offers consistent quality in free online material, I am inclined to support them. The “consistent quality” part is crucial. It the free stuff is good, the rest must be good too.

    2) No, not just from one story. This pretty much links back to that “consistent quality” thing. One good sample is not enough to indicate that the whole package is good.

    3) Maybe. Big maybe. If the author was John Scalzi or Richard K. Morgan or someone else I recognize and enjoy, sure thing. If it’s someone I’ve never read, definitely not.

    4)Yes, definitely less inclined. For one, it’s free! Other than that, it’s also extremely easy to find and hassle free too. I don’t have to spend any time creating accounts or entering credit data and waiting for servers to process my request. Just click and read. Information age readers want quick and easy more than anything else. The fact that it’s also free is just icing on the cake.

  98. Shane Keene on August 21st, 2008

    BTW, I’m 40ish

  99. Neil Clarke on August 21st, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes, among other things, I’ve made donations and bought books from them (directly when a publisher, from affiliate programs when available, and best-of collections if they have one). Another important way to support a publication or an author is to spread the word. It doesn’t always have to be about money.

    If a piece is particularly good, I’m likely to try to buy new work from that author for my magazine or seek out their books. In some extreme cases, like with Memorare, I’ll purchase the limited edition rights and produce a book.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, unless they are very new, the odds are that I’ve seen their magazine before they started putting stories online. I suppose it would be a good incentive to get me to reconsider subscribing to a venue I’ve passed on or stopped reading. It would take some time though.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Pricing it at the cost of an issue seems a bit high, but even at a lower price I’d be inclined to pass. You’d be better off giving these out for free and taking full advantage of the free advertising it presents you with. It could work against you if it turned out that you were the only one charging that year.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    I’m still spending about the same amount of money on short fiction as I had in the past. If anything has changed, I think it’s increased my awareness of new authors.

    Male. 42. I also publish one of those free online magazines.

  100. Jennie King on August 21st, 2008

    I’m female, 56.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? Yes, I’ve done so once because I liked the short story. The site was Lone Something (star? Wolf? ) If I like something I’m perfectly willing to pay for it.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No, but I did sub to Black Gate because they pubbed Martha Wells short stories. She’s one of the few authors I’d buy a print mag to get her stories. ( Bujold and Pratchett are two others off the top off my head.)

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? No. I’m mostly not a short story reader. Furthermore, I hate reading stuff on a computer (besides websurfing). Work requires too much computer reading.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No. I rarely read short fiction (just by fave authors).

  101. Adam Heine on August 21st, 2008

    31, Male.

    I don’t think I’ve ever paid for short fiction. If I did, it would be in the form of an anthology. I haven’t subscribed to a magazine since I canceled my Nintendo Power subscription in highschool.

    I will occasionally read short fiction online, but only if it’s free. When I pay for something I like to own it, and despite growing up in the internet age, I still don’t feel like I own something unless I can hold it in my hands.

    Finally, if I read a piece of fiction that I liked, I’m afraid that I wouldn’t feel anything towards the publisher. I notice authors, not publishers, and though I probably wouldn’t pay for a work I just read for free, I’d likely remember the author’s name and might buy something they wrote later on.

  102. karina on August 21st, 2008

    1. Yes, when I read a short story online and I like it, I feel inclined to support the parties involved. My most immediate loyalty goes to the author: I buy an anthology of their short fiction if available. Then I have a look at the publisher and see if there’s anything on the catalog that I’d like to order. I usually end up following both the author and publisher.

    2. Yes, I’ve subscribed to many magazines because of something I read online.

    3. I’m not sure if I’d pay to read Hugo and Nebula-nominated stories online. Maybe.

    4. I think that having more short fiction being offered online for free has only made me more of a junkie. I’ve bought stuff from Fictionwise that I then also purchase as a paperback so I can share it with friends or give away as presents. If anything, free fiction only encourages me to keep putting my money on the authors that I like, many of whom I’ve come across thanks to the internet.

    I’m thirty years old.

  103. Justin Adair on August 21st, 2008

    And my oversight in my post was my stats: 31/M

  104. CV Rick on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I don’t have any publisher loyalty, but I’m very loyal to an author. If I like a story I’ll search out that author, read his/her blog, tip via paypal if that’s an option, and seek published books, anthologies, or sometimes print magazines that contain the author’s stories. We’ve entered a time in which the connection between author and reader is open and the publisher has little power as middleman.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No, I wouldn’t. On my site I run an informal story club where I link to the text and, if available, the audio of a short story. Then in the comments my readers and I discuss it. I only link to free stories and wouldn’t ask anyone to pay for a story for the discussion. Sometimes the author will join in the discussion, and I’d guess that a few books have been purchased as a result of that interaction.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No I don’t think that’s the case. This year I bought and read more anthologies and single-issues of magazines than ever before. I just don’t have any subscriptions, which means I don’t have any magazines that come to my house and remain unread. I like short fiction, but I’m inclined to wait for positive recommendations and released TOC’s before buying anthologies.

    I’m 42.

  105. Chris Pasley on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    If I like it, I do. I’m not likely to remember the name of the author too well (which is true of any story, regardless of the medium), but there have been several occasions I’ve read a story and sent it enthusiastically to friends. if I see the name on a book somewhere it’ll likely ring some bells and I might be more apt to actually buy it, armed with the positive association.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but I rarely subscribe to magazines these days. I get all my magazine-length needs from the internet. I did subscribe to F&SF but let my subscription lapse for unrelated reasons.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Hmm….no, not really, but I’m rarely inclined to buy short fiction. If there’s a story online, there’s a greater chance I’ll read it if it’s free, which I might otherwise have not read at all.

    To comment further on the whole debate, the problem is that short-form content is going 100% ad-based on the internet. It’s just how it is. What’s wrong with that is that internet ads don’t make much money because there’s a billion of them across the net and unless you’ve got some serious traffic and a good ad sales team you won’t see anywhere near what a print ad will get you. Probably not even then, but on the other hand the content is cheaper with no paper to print. The most economic model would seem to be a strictly online model that sold print anthologies or something once or twice a year.

    People don’t want to pay for what they can get elsewhere for free, and unfortunately, even as the New York Times learned, they don’t want to pay for short-form content. If you’re trying to work in the internet space, you’ve got to forget about trying to charge for it and figure out how to get ads, and just as important, eyeballs.

  106. Matthew Sanborn Smith on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    No.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    No.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No.

    I’m 39 and currently subscribe to F&SF and Asimov’s

  107. Xian B. on August 22nd, 2008

    28 years old, Canada. (For the record, I really enjoy short fiction as a medium. I just think the field is rife with poor to mediocre offerings, particularly online. I suspect the lower the cost, the lower the editorial standard of quality.)

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not from a single story, no. Free online stories are so hit-or-miss, even from reputable publishers, that I’ve become a total cynic. When I read a good story online I automatically assume it’s a fluke (though I always email the author to let them know I enjoyed it). I wouldn’t support a publisher unless they were able to demonstrate consistency in their quality. I’m aware this may be unreasonable.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I’ve never subscribed to a magazine, print or online, period. I have bought “best of” collections from magazine publishers, if that makes up for it.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Pay to read them online? No. But I wouldn’t have a problem purchasing a collection of great stories in print, even if they were simultaneously available for free online.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Less inclined to pay for short fiction in general? Not at all. I’m less inclined to pay for online short fiction, but more inclined to pay for the same short fiction in print. I think free online short fiction is effective advertising.

    Hope this helps you. I’m sorry if it’s discouraging. I’m trying to be honest. Best of luck!

  108. Robin Adair on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    If I have the money and I’m in a magnaminous mood, sure.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I actually have a couple of times, but my alterior motive was to sumit to their publication as a writer.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I don’t think so.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Personally, I hardly ever read short fiction until I got on the Web.

    My advice is to use short fiction in whatever genre to sell books by that author.

    Excerpts work well, as well. I don’t know how many times I’ve been suckered into buying a book by reading an excerpt at amazon.com but the result has been that my apartment resembles the Library of Congress!

    Any way, hope this helps.

    My age?

    I was born when Ike was elected for his second term.

  109. General X on August 22nd, 2008

    1. Yes, but support is a relative term. While I might wax poetic about the story and the publisher to my friends, other things are not necessarily included.

    2. No.

    3. No.

    4. Definitely yes.

    The thing is that there is a glut of free fiction out there. It would take me nothing but to sit all day and read those works. However, free fiction is not necessarily good fiction. I am more likely to read fiction from, say your site, than some no name blog. If you make me pay for the story, then i will go to the blog. Therein might be the saving grace. If you found a way to make money of the eyeballs, like advertising inside free stories, that might enable you to finance more and more free stories to begin with.
    Sorry if this sounds like me telling you how to do your job. I really love FSF.
    I am 24 years old.

  110. steve davidson on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes and no. It takes a lot of enticement to get me to read something on-line (if the price of printer ink came down, I’d print things out and I’d probably read more). In general though, if their is an expression made by the provider that it is really something I ought to be paying for, I’ll chip something in (whether I liked it or not). If there is no mention of compensation, I generally figure that it is a ‘loss-leader’ piece and happily consume without paying.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes – but the subscriptions were also free, so all it cost me was an email address.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. Such stories should be made available to the widest possible audience and I would think that the publishers would be eager to support them as they will receive a direct benefit, especially if one or more wins an award. This is truly a ‘loss-leader’ circumstance, a situation where ‘free’ can generate later sales.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Maybe, but there are a lot of other factors that have contributed more: few of the stories offered in print have interested me. Spending almost the cost of a paperback novel to acquire one, maybe two shorts in a magazine is cost-prohibitive. Sheer volume contributes also – rather than seeking things out myself these days, I’ve had to resort to recommendations from others – and most of those recommendations are for novels rather than shorts.

    ***

    I can see how an established writer can use free material to spur sales of their ‘for pay’ items and short fiction is the answer there. I can see how a book publisher can do the same for the benefit of their stable.

    The ‘stock in trade’ in those circumstances is not the short fiction, so it can work in a traditional ‘loss-leader, get them in the store’ type of marketing strategy.

    With magazines however, it doesn’t work because they are giving away what they are also selling. Baen’s method, for example, may work for others, but not for me. When I see ‘you get the first half free but if you want to finish the story, you’ll have to subscribe’ – I’m gone. If I see a single author’s piece offered as a come on and I know and like the author (or the story subject sounds compelling), I’ll read that piece. But it won’t make me buy the magazine with all the ‘unknowns’ in there and it won’t convince me that other authors – who I may not be familiar with – are worth shelling out coin for.

    I think the short fiction markets need to turn the strategy around; have the authors who appear in each issue hype their appearance on their own sites (I have a story appearing in X) and give them the means to allow people to subscribe right there.

    Steve

  111. Christopher Hawley on August 22nd, 2008

    Hello Gordon,
    To address your queries in order:

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Emphatically yeswhether the story in question was electronically self-published or a mainstream/paper-oriented publisher.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    Yes, I was/am somewhat impulsive in that area. I should note that in all but one instance I had no qualms about terminating the subscription at the earliest moment of opportunity, because the article/story which had motivated me to subscribe was of a quality which was not subsequently repeated.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    I sense ambiguity in the phrasing of your question (sorry!), but let me try to respond to either of two interpretations:

    [1] Were I a publisher (which I am not), I would like to hold out against the trend and continue the policy of free publication of the Good Stuff in order that
      (a) final selection might be made on the most informed basis possible, and
      (b) the spillover might (would) bring new readers.

    [2] As a reader, I would — and often do — pay to read works alleged to be in the top bracket by a number of sources whom I have learned to trust. Were I faced with the choice to pay&read, or not to read at all, I would probably pay to read … but would demand some physical, tangible, and loanable format in exchange. Were the choice to be among “pay publisher X $n*CURRENCY_UNIT” vs. “pay $0 to someone who wishes to promote community, criticism, and common ground for appreciation of writing excellence, the choice would almost certainly be the latter.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No; in fact, I find that I may pay =more for fiction that I might otherwise have declined/waited untill MMPB release/bought used/entirely overlooked … but that I am much happier with whatever sum I’m paying when someone has a new story which rocks and is willing to share. Latest case in point: Cory Doctorow’s _Little Brother_, which I downloaded without charge nor encumberment on first mention and read in
    the course of two extended nights with scant sleep. Within minutes of finishing his tale I had opened the bookseller-of-choice website and had ordered the physical / dead-tree / contains-all-the-same-words-in-the-same-arrangement printed copy…
    because I would want it anyhow, because it was the least I felt that I owed to C.D.and/or his publisher for the entertainment [not to mention the implicit trust which he & pub. extended to everyone], and because the first person to whom I loaned the physical copy has difficulty reading text from screens and prefers hard media for some things.

  112. BlueTyson on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Maybe. If it seems to be the sort of publication I might like, it does make it more likely I would buy it. If as you ask about later on, these stories are the Hugo etc. types, then absolutely that generates more feeling of goodwill, I think, at least to me.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes. Article stuff, too, even. Although I probably would have bought an electronic version if there was one for postage cost reasons.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Not if I was buying the mag already. Otherwise, perhaps. If it was only one story, wouldn’t be worth the cost of the magazine – so maybe that question could be put differently – would you pay x cents depending on length for a given story. No idea if your contracts let you do that, of course.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, completely the reverse. Has made me buy more in a big way. Heaps of stuff and authors I might have had no idea about before, that sort of thing.

    As a comment :-

    As far as experiments go – there are some half stories etc. at some of the digests, but no mailing lists/rss feeds for these like JBU has – that might be something to try as far as measuring stuff goes?

  113. BlueTyson on August 22nd, 2008

    wordpress doesn’t love me at the moment, it seems.

    Blue Tyson

  114. JA Howe on August 22nd, 2008

    1)Yes! I’ve looked for the writings of people I liked on Critters, I’ve looked for those from your magazine, from Asimov’s, from Mythic Circle, from Illumen, etc.

    2)Yes! At times when I’ve had money, I’ve subscribed to for instance F&SF or Realms of Fantasy, but only after seeing something I liked in it. My question to you is why would I spend money on it otherwise? If I as a writer am not entertaining people enough to get them to do that sort of thing, then I’m not doing my job.

    3)NO. I haven’t subscribed to F&SF in a long time, because I just haven’t seen anything in it that gets me.

    4)No. I have always believed in submitting and supporting both the pay and no-pay markets. Some of the no-pay magazines want to at some point get themselves up to where they can pay writers, others are ok with where they are. I think it’s the same with readers, or at least the concept runs parallel. I could be proven wrong in ten or twenty years, but I don’t believe so.

  115. Tim Moore on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes, very much so. For example, I received a copy of John Joseph Adam’s “Seeds of Change” as an ARC and enjoyed it immensely. I fully intend to buy a copy when it reaches a bookstore in my area. I have also done similar things with other authors – I bought all of Tobias Buckell’s books after reading a short story of his in “Seeds of Change” and the same with John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” (published free by Tor).

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    In a way. I subscribed to a couple of magazines because of authors I already knew and then found many other authors that I liked because of the magazine.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Perhaps if there were excerpts online or there were authors that I knew in the mix.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not at all. I do not like reading on a computer screen, due to vision issues, and am in an area that doesn’t support the Kindle. I vastly prefer the print edition of stories and typically go out of my way to pick them up over the online versions.

    I am 26.

  116. Eoghann Irving on August 22nd, 2008

    Mid-thirties male here.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Hmm, support is a little vague. If I liked the story I’ll certainly keep an eye out (and buy) more from that author. I’d also most likely bookmark the site that offered me the story and return if there was regular content. Since I have a website I might well link to it too. If by support you mean click on a “tip jar”… probably not for a single story, but a site that’s consistently offering stories I like, that I would donate to. Built up goodwill would make me more inclined to at least look at other publictions by that publisher too.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Subscribed, no. I have on occasion bought an issue of a magazine. I don’t actually subscribe to any magazines though (genre or otherwise).

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    How many stories? It would have to be as much or more content as the magazine usually contains. Even then it’s not a guarantee because there are plenty nominated stories that I don’t actually like.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, I’ve never been very inclined to pay for short fiction because in the majority of cases what is published is not what I enjoy reading. I seem to prefer longer form fiction, though I’ve always had a hard time pinning down the reasons for that.

    Can I also note that I think you are mistaken about free books. Tor just completed an experiment (inconclusive but possibly successful) where they gave away books at least some of which were the first in a series. Baen claims great success with this technique. It’s harder to employ that technique with short stories though unless they are part of a serial.

  117. Pam Phillips on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    I feel inclined to look for more work by the author. When I find a venue that I can return to and find something I like on a regular basis, then I realize it’s time to pay up and support the publisher.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No. Long ago, when I did subscribe to print magazines, too many issues went unread.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    Please don’t! You are performing a great service by making these award-nominated stories available. Charging for it is not worth the bad feelings.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    The reverse, in small measure. While so much fiction online is not worth my time, when I do find someone I like, I hunt down their works, as collections or novels. This benefits the authors, but not the places where I first found them. Maybe you could offer a gateway, like an Amazon affiliation, that would make it easier for readers buy books and support the authors they enjoy.

    When it comes to sites that offer excerpts, I am sometimes tempted to pay for the rest of a story, but not the cost of the whole issue, and definitely not with the requirement to sign up. I want a quick, relatively anonymous transaction that doesn’t break the spell. Too bad I can’t just hand you a buck over the internets.

    I am in my 40s.

  118. Delynn Lane on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    YES! In fact, the example you gave (John Scalzi’s “After the Coup”) is one recent example I can give… I read “After the Coup” and liked the style so much that I went out to my local bookstore and bought Old Man’s War and Zoe’s Tale (the only ones they had in stock!!!).

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No, but I’ve never subscribed to a print magazine, so I don’t think this question really applies to me!

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    Probably not, especially if it were available in hard copy (or for free!) somewhere else. I’ve never paid for something that can be read online!!!

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    Well, not really. I don’t like having only digital copies of stories, so I’m just as willing as ever to pay for a hard copy of a story (or, as occurs more often, a collection of short stories).

  119. Delynn Lane on August 22nd, 2008

    Oh, and I am 19 years old and female.

  120. F.J. Bergmann on August 22nd, 2008

    1 & 2. A good, free online story doesn’t usually cause me to make an online donation, but it does reassure me as to the quality of the publication if I’m considering subscribing or submitting. Definitely a good idea to have samples of content.

    3. Charging a fee to read the annual selection of award-nominated stories online is an excellent idea. I’d be more likely to do this than subscribe; and for the general public, the appeal is similar to the American Idol scenario, where folks pay for the “privilege” of voting.

    4. I’d rather read on paper. This generally involves having to pay. Or at least trek to the library.

    I think that your “limited time” free postings are a good idea. If they are good enough for the word to spread, this enables you to profit from latecomers and those who follow the recommendations of the initial readers. “Limited time offers” are a clearly-understood tactic in the American marketplace.

    53 years old.

  121. Merrie Haskell on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes, absolutely. Though keep in mind, “support” is potentially non-monetary. I may not have cash to spare, in which case I will pimp the heck out of it with word-of-mouth advertising, or write about it in my blog. I’m also inclined not necessarily to buy things for myself, but if it’s something I like and there’s something to buy, I may give it as a gift to a friend.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    …Not yet. But I have subscribed to electronic magazines because I liked the free content enough to want to see the pay content. The sad fact is, not enough print places post free content and advertise it in any meaningful way. None of them make their website a destination, as far as I’ve seen. The Realms of Fantasy site is literally two years out of date. The current issue advertised includes hype about the movie Eragon.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    No. This would make me angry, actually. So, you bought a story that’s so good it’s now eligible for an award, and now you want to make it hard for people to read it (so presumably they may like it and want to vote for it and continue the free advertising your magazine is already getting, essentially) just to make a buck? While I respect the desire to pay authors well, I don’t think that money is going to go into the author’s pocket in any way, and web-hosting is dirt cheap, so what’s the justification? The cost of a whole issue better come with a whole issue, *at the very least.*

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    In a round about way, yes, but not in the way this question is asking. It’s not that I don’t want to pay for short fiction. It’s that there is quality short fiction in the niches I like to read in happens to be free.

    And it’s not *entirely* a free thing, either. It’s an accessibility thing. I’m bored at work or on hold. I’d like to read some short fiction. I can’t get to the bookstore. I don’t have a copy of anything with me. I’m going to go to the place where the fewest clicks will get me something that makes me happy. If I’m on hold, I don’t have the free hands to type in a password for protected content, for example.

    I’m 33.

  122. Liviu on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not really; I will keep an eye on the author, check whatever else he/she published it or intends to publish, but in general I regard short fiction as a method of discovery new authors, or of enjoying a taste of favorite authors in between novels.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I never buy print magazines anymore but I buy a lot of e-magazines – 15-18 in the past year – though mostly new ones like GUD, Escape Velocity, Aeon, and one issue of Interzone for a specific reason. The big 3 including FSF are ossified publishing the same kind of thing/ authors over and over and as mentioned I look mostly for “newness” in my short fiction. I used to subscribe to Asimov’s print and then e and to FSF print for a while, but I do not anymore for the reasons above. I buy lots of original anthologies and I would not mind seeing short fiction becoming – e-magazines for new authors to break in, themed original anthologies for established authors with anything in-between going away.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I regard both Hugo and Nebula as irrelevant so I never pay more than cursory attention to what is nominated. I used to look more at Locus awards and take the time to vote very year but the post jury rigging of 2008 just sent that award to Hugo/Nebula irrelevance in my eyes and I definitely plan to avoid voting or paying more than cursory attention from now on. I was a subscriber for a while and there indeed I stopped my subscription because the Net made it of little value, since now I can find upcoming books, reviews, news about publishing freely so Locus has very little added value

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Actually, it made me pay more than before – but in different forms. I rarely read something because it’s free – at best I would give it a glance – but the blooming of new e-magazines that are reasonably priced and offer new voices, combined with the blooming of original anthologies both e and print, made me buy much more than in the past.
    SFF short fiction is alive, kicking – but moving away from traditional print magazines who are just withering away.

    Age 39, male

  123. the.fierce on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? *

    These days my buying budget is so small that I do not pick up books based purely on author, but only on recommendations. If I have the opportunity to preview something I am a thousand times more likely to buy it (or definitely discard it – another important detail to track) than merely reading a back blurb.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? *

    Absolutely. The only magazines I’ve subscribed to since the Web were that way.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?*

    Pricing structure incomplete; was that cost of an issue each, or one issue with all of the nominees?

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? *

    No, but the structure is changing; I’m more likely to drop money in the “tip jar” than buy books, but that’s again because of my economics. If I’m tipping the author, I know it’s going there directly and I may only have $3, whereas the paperback is $7, which is the additional cost of a bus ride to and from work.

  124. Rose on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not usually. If I read a story that I really like I’ll start looking for other material by the same author (blog, books, anthologies, etc). But it also depends on how the story is presented: if I feel like the publisher is being generous (offering a sizable amt of material, not putting expiration dates on the offer, etc.) I’ll be more happy to see that publisher’s imprint than if I feel they’re being stingy (or grudging–esp. for sci-fi publishers, a “what is all this internet nonsense” type attitude is a real turn-off). For example, if I hear about a great new author, maybe I’m on the fence about buying the book–but if the publisher is Tor (or Baen), that definitely puts a mark in the plus column.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I’ve never subscribed to a print magazine (of stories) at all. Or probably ever will.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. I’d go to a library or to a bookstore, if I could find one that still carried the magazine.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    I’m in my mid-twenties, so I definitely missed the era where it was common to pay for short fiction in magazines. Every time I’ve ever been tempted to buy a story magazine off the newsstand a quick flip through the issue has sent me toward Vogue instead. But I do really like short -story collections by my favorite authors and anthologies based around interesting topics, and I will pay for those. The difference, I guess, is that with real books I feel like I’m getting a better guarantee at quality and a more lasting value.

  125. Kimberly Kefalas on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes, obviously. If you have an online magazine, or a print magazine with an online presence, or if you are a print publisher that puts fiction by your authors online, the online content lets me know the general quality of your product, where that product is the *whole* magazine, electronic or print.

    If it’s free content that is *always* free, and I enjoy it, I want to ensure it continues. When I was younger I wasn’t necessarily in a position to do that, but I am now. I make paypal donations that mirror the cost I would pay for something in its “old school” form, usually; i.e., the cost of a new set of season-length DVDs for Shadow Unit.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes. With some frequency.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. I’m a subscriber.

    However, if you put them up, and sold a special edition in hard copy, I’d probably buy that. Or if you put them up collected, with interviews and some other special Extras, I’d probably pay the cost of a print publication for that collection even electronically. It’s sad, though, to think of it; if you give me the option to donate instead, I will, but you could be growing your fan base by allowing folks who might not be able to afford it to read the nominated stories. Eventually they might be able to afford it, and then they might subscribe.

    Free online fiction is smart business.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    It has not. It has made me more inclined to do so. It has introduced me to new authors and publications. It has led me to subscribe. It has led me to purchase books, both by authors I like and those edited by folks whose publications I tend to respect. It keeps me interested in the community and the authors and has certainly led to my spending scads and scads more money over the past three years on short and longer fiction alike.

  126. Kimberly Kefalas on August 22nd, 2008

    Oh, oops. 38, female.

  127. George Van Wagner on August 22nd, 2008

    1. Yes. i think that creative work that I enjoy deserves to be supported. However, before supporting the publisher, I’d like to be sure that a reasonable amount of whatever I stick in the tip jar is going to the writer. After all, it’s his work that I want to encourage as much, or perhaps even more than the publisher’s making his work available. Having spent the majority of my adult life in the music business, I know all too well what can happen to money that’s supposed to be aimed at the creator of a work. Which is why I’d like to see websites publishing short fiction have an brief explanation of how much of the income stream ends up in the creator’s pocket.

    2. I already subscribe to most all of the print markets for short genre fiction that I’m aware of (especially if they have electronic editions. My F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, and Interzone subs are all through Fictionwise, and thanks for making F&SF available in PDF, btw. Much appreciated on this end).

    3. On the occasions that i have a voting membership in Worldcon, I would certainly object to paying for the Hugo nominees that I hadn’t already read in the same way that a member of the Motion Picture Academy would object to having to go out of pocket to be an informed voter for their awards. On the other hand, if I’m not entitled to vote for the Hugos, I’d be willing to pay for the stories. It hasn’t come up yet, since, except for the stories that only appear in anthologies, I’ve usually got the issues of various magazines that have the stories (which would mean that I’ve already paid for them, wouldn’t it?).

    4. Obviously, I’m still paying for short fiction. I love the chance to discover new writers that freely accessible online fiction gives me, and I like having recommendations to give people who are looking for new fiction to read. I’ve even been known to subscribe to online magazines when I find one that has an editorial vision that works for me.

  128. STEVE on August 22nd, 2008

    1.NO
    2.NO
    3.NO
    4.NO [FREE IS USUALLY JUNK]

  129. Meg on August 22nd, 2008

    Q: When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    A: Depends on what you mean by “publisher”. Do you mean the website/webzine? Because that’s a different answer than the publisher. For example, supporting “Cosmo” is different from supporting their publisher, because they’re published by Hearst.

    If you mean the publication itself, then the answer is a yes/no.

    If it’s a smaller publication with good fiction that offers up all its issues for free, then I will definitely try to donate money a lot and often, to keep things going, so the author gets paid and people can keep enjoying the free stuff. Not to mention that if it’s free and readily accessible, I can easily recommend it to my friends on my blog and not worry they they have to pony up money for it if they don’t.

    If it’s a pay site, where maybe one story is free and the rest of the is for pay, then no. I feel cheated, frankly. I take my free sample and I go home.

    Q: Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    A: Nope. I don’t tend to subscribe to print magazines for fiction, because there’s really no point. The print magazines that I’ve seen just aren’t impressing me, and not for what they charge and what I get.

    However, if a website has had stories I read for free on their site and really liked, and if I like them in general, I will definitely donate to them.

    My fiancee and I (both rabid readers of the SF/F genre) support several sites with out-and-out donations, because it keeps the fiction free for everyone and it keeps good publications going without needing to rely on ads or paying for stories.

    Q: Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    A: Uh, frak no. Screw that for a lark. I’m not going to pay for a cow when the milk used to run free. I’ll just go get me another cow.

    Especially if the cow is asking the price of an issue.

    It’s like this. I love my literature, but I’m not made of money. I gotta take it free where I can, and I try to pay it forward by donating to good sites when I have a buck or two that I can expend. But honestly? Asking people to pay for something, that traditionally, has been open to the SF/F community at large just seems money grubbing and does NOTHING to earn my good will. It makes me resent whoever starts asking for money.

    Q: Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Yep.

    Online fiction as a whole has made me less inclined to pay for short fiction in print. Besides, there aren’t any magazines consistently good enough in print that I’d spend the money for a subscription.

    Free online fiction, especially if it’s good, makes me reluctant to deal with people who ask for money. Stories aren’t like movies. You don’t get a big exciting trailer for them. If it sucks, you don’t get your money back. Why pay for it, when some other site has the same quality, even if they’re not a big brand name.

    Brand names don’t really mean better quality anymore. The big magazines don’t have any better fare (and often times, they’re worse).

    All of which makes me more inclined to donate money to a site if I see that it’s putting out good stuff for free. It’s like the site did me a favor and it makes me want to do one for them in return. My goodwill does, on occasion, translate into cash.

    It also makes me more inclined to support the authors if I see them again in a print anthology or if they come out with novels. Getting to read some works (not just first chapters or samples) by an author goes a long way towards convincing me to throw money their way and convinces me that I’ll like them.

  130. C. S. Inman on August 22nd, 2008

    1. Yes. It’s part of webcomics culture that’s extended, for me, into short fiction. I read a lot of free work online, and if I like something and there’s a “donate” or a “tip jar” button at the bottom, I’ll often put money in.

    2. Not yet, but my answer might change since I just got promoted. ;) It’s a matter of money, really. I don’t have a subscription to F&SF, but it’s one among many I’d love to keep reading.

    3. Yes, I believe I would. I hope you offer this in the future!

    4. Not less inclined at all–but definitely less inclined to pay in one lump sum. I have $5 lying around more often than I have $25 lying around. I “tip” when the option is available.

  131. HollyJ on August 22nd, 2008

    I’m in my fifties and I started reading SF when I was 10 or 11. My dad loved SF and there were always Asimov and Bradbury books in the house when I was growing up.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I usually seek out other works by the author. If those are published by the publisher of the online story, then the publisher gets support. Otherwise, no.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. If I’m curious about a nominated story, I check the author’s website to see if it’s offered there for free.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. Many years ago, before the advent of the internet, I used to buy F&SF and other mags at the newsstand, but found that the number of stories I enjoy reading steadily declined in favor of stories not to my taste, and I stopped buying print mags for that reason. Now, with the amount of short fiction available online, I can easily find stories by authors whose work I like–no need to purchase an entire magazine to read a single story. My preference overall is for long fiction, and I like the physical sensation of holding a book in my hands, rather than a magazine. Because of that, when I buy short print fiction, I tend to purchase print anthologies in book form and make my choice based on my opinion of the anthology’s editor.

  132. james woodyatt on August 22nd, 2008

    “* When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?”

    I’m inclined to judge the quality of the material that publishers charge money for by the quality of the material they make available online for free. If they don’t make anything online available for free, then I have to rely on my friends to tell me that the publisher’s non-free material is any good. If they don’t say anything, then the publisher may as well not exist for me.

    Likewise, if the material that publishers make available online for free is utterly craptacular, then that will certainly make me less interested in the material they charge money for.

    “* Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?”

    I subscribe to no print magazines whatsoever. I buy books when I believe the printed material to be good enough that I want to enjoy it in hardcopy form. Otherwise, I read it on my laptop, and it takes a hell of a lot of peer pressure before I’ll cave and pay for something DRM-locked.

    “* Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?”

    Not a chance in hell.

    “* Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?”

    On the contrary, I probably wouldn’t have any interest in buying the short fiction anthologies I routinely do buy if it weren’t for my familiarity with other works by the collected authors that I’ve been able to read online for free. In short, the prevalence of free short fiction online has made me more inclined to pay for short fiction in printed hardcopy form.

  133. Jack William Bell on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    – Sure, but read my notes below.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    – No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    – No. Not unless you also sent me the printed copy as well.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    – Often things are worth what you pay for them, but that said I am less likely to pay for short fiction period. Not just because of free alternatives.
    ***** ABOUT ME ****

    I am a neo SF writer and longtime fan in my fifties. (That’s right, I am old.) I am also extremely technically skilled and have a deep understanding of both the micro and macro structures of the Internet. As a result I find myself far more in agreement with Cory Doctorow than I could ever be with Harlan Ellison on this subject.

    **** NOTES ****

    I think are are asking the wrong questions here. In my mind these questions translate to “How can I maintain my current business model without changing too much, despite the fact the Internet has already changed the ground beneath me?”

    A better meta-question to base your poll on would be “How can I change my business model to reflect the new realities of publishing brought on by the Internet, even if it means drastic changes in every area?”

    The first question makes you a buggy whip manufacturer. The second makes you Henry Ford. The underlying problem is simple: Things have changed. A lot. They are going to change more.

    Big IP (Intellectual Property) industries (like the RIAA) can sue and lobby to protect existing business models, and might even have a small amount of success in the short term. But little guys, like the magazine publishing industry, don’t have even that option. All who cling to what they know are doomed.

    The good news is that there is a pot of gold out there. It just requires that you re-think your business model from top to bottom and take a few risks on possible revenue streams. What if you had an important revenue stream built entirely around ‘affinity merchandise’ like T-Shirts? What if you worked with large companies or even private individuals to sponsor single stories or all stories by a certain author? What if you charged the authors to edit them and then posted the results for free, giving the authors 80% of any advertising revenue the story generated? What if you just rattled a tip jar every time someone read a story, while displaying the actual cost of buying, editing, and presenting the story so people will know where their money went?

    What if you did something entirely different than those ideas and it worked? Well, I think you might still have a business ten years from now. It might not be a ‘magazine’, but it would have income and it would pay authors to write.

    Rather not change? I don’t think we need to worry about F&SF taking up space on the magazine racks which won’t exist anywhere outside of specialty book stores in ten years.

    And that would be a very sad thing…

  134. Andy Spackman on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not really. I’m more likely to follow after that author than the publisher. It would make me more likely to visit that website again, but that loyalty might not translate to the publisher itself–as a reader. As an aspiring author it may help keep that publisher higher on my list.

    I think it’s more of an awareness thing than a direct impact on sales. It puts that publisher further to the front of my mind, and when I’m looking for something to read, thinking of places to submit, or stumble accross the imprint when browsing, it will have more brand equity drawing me toward it.

    So perhaps it’s better to think of this as a marketing expense rather than a sales channel. You ought to be surveying new subscribers to see what influenced their decision and whether they have ever read the stories you’ve posted online. Sometimes that’s the only way to see the effect of a promotional effort on sales.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. But I may be an anomaly. I work in a library that has print and/or electronic subscriptions to all the major magazines. So I can read just about whatever I want for free. If I read something online and want the magazine I wouldn’t buy an issue or a subscription, I’d go down to the periodicals room and read it there.

    In fact I maintain a personal subscription only to F&SF. My library has it both print and electronic, but it’s worth having my own copy.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. Because I already have those stories through my subscription (or the library–see previous response).

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. After all, I pay for a subscription to F&SF even though I have free access to it at work. If something is good enough, you don’t just want to experience it, you want to possess it.

    I think your model of putting up an old story for free for a month is a good one. Sure it raises the problem you describe. But that won’t happen too often. And it’s a relatively small problem considering the greater tumult that surrounds this issue and the various approaches publishers are experimenting with.

    I’m 31 years old.

  135. Mark Geary on August 22nd, 2008

    * I avoid reading fiction on my computer screen when possible.
    * No, I’m much more likely to subscribe after seeing a physical copy of the magazine.
    * If I didn’t already subscribe to F&SF and Asimov’s, I might pay the cost of one magazine issue to read _all_ the short fiction nominees.
    * Not me.

  136. Mike Cane on August 22nd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    NEVER! The writer, yes.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. But I no longer subscribe to anything in print.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. They should be considered promotional pieces to attract new readers to those writers. Again, the publisher is irrelevant.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. Sony has all of Philip K. Dick’s short stories for sale. If I owned a Reader, I’d buy the ones that aren’t available in collections. If Sony offered more short stories from authors I wanted to read and these stories weren’t available in collections, I’d buy them. It’s all about the writer.

    It is NEVER about the publisher for me, it’s about the writer. I am in my 50s. I never bought F&SF because of its nasty paper and two-column format. It was never reader-friendly. When I went out of my way to buy it, it was the special showcase issues featuring *writers* I liked: Harlan Ellison and Barry N. Malzberg, to name two. (Note the one magazine I picked up religiously was the magazine-sized Twilight Zone; and I *did* read it.)

    As for competition from free, that’s hard to battle. I’m not saying the free is *better* because it is free, I’m saying all the free tends to *distract* from *quality* material because it’s easier to check out free than to check out what might be *worthy* yet for-a-fee. This is why so many eBooks for sale online offer a lengthy excerpt for even the entire first chapter.

  137. Gary Gibson on August 23rd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    It’s not something that’s really occurred to me to do in particular, no. But it does make me more aware of those publications, which I think can lead to sales taken in the wider context.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Nope, but it’s been a long, long time since I subscribed to any magazines.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I would do so, but only if I could purchase a downloadable ‘collection’ of *all* the Hugo and Nebula nominated stories, regardless of which anthology or magazine they came from.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, I’m more inclined. That’s partly because I recently bought a Sony Reader, and I’m suddenly reading much more short stuff than I have in years, particularly whatever anthologies (Seeds of Change, Year’s Best, etc) I can get in e-format. I use free online short fiction as a guide to whether or not I might like an author enough to think about purchasing their other stuff. It’s saved me from making some purchasing decisions I might have regretted, and allowed me to find writers I enjoy. The end result is I actually spend *more* money on authors, since I feel like I’m taking less of a gamble on them when I buy them.

    I’m a male 43 year old author.

  138. J. S. Jones on August 23rd, 2008

    (1) In theory, yes. However, these days I hardly ever like a story that much, online or in print (Titanium Mike is an exception), and I don’t really have the money, which is why I’m doing most of my reading online in the first place.

    (2) No. If I had plenty of money and shelf space, I’d already be a subscriber. I prefer print. I used to pick up occasional issues at the book store and might do so now to get a print copy of something I liked, but these days, the few book stores that still exist don’t carry SF magazines.

    (3) This isn’t clear to me. Do you mean the cost of one issue for all the nominated stories together, whether there’s twenty or only one? Also, “do so” is ambiguous :)

    (4) No (I’ll skip the long philosophical explanation). Also I suspect most authors prefer to submit first to markets that can pay a little more on average.

    51

  139. Jan on August 23rd, 2008

    1. When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    It isn’t a conscious decision along the lines of “Hey! Cool story: I will now go out and give SUPPORT!” but mental notes are made: a) this author is cool; I will remember them b) this publisher/website published the cool author; I will check back to see what else they do.

    I have recently decided that Tor is made of win.

    Also, F&SF has been putting up archive stories? Really? That’s been kept quiet. *will go and look*

    2. Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I have never seen a SF-mag hardcopy. Ever. I’m comfortable reading on a screen at any length — and e-books/mags save space. So, er, define “print”.

    That said, I first found F&SF (later subscribed through Fictionwise) because of the zombie election story you put up. Of course, that was after you officially took it down; I read it either through Wayback or caches.

    I subscribed to — and now buy individual issues of, instead — Asimov’s (fictionwise again) because of story excerpts. I’ve purchased single issues from other mags based on online buzz/snippets.

    It works the other way, as well; I have not bothered to read/renew paid-for mags because of material published on their site. Namely, F&SF because of several of those F-ing dreadful Truesdale columns. Asimov’s nearly lost me recently as well, due to the awfulness that was their forum, but they seem to have cleaned it up considerably.

    Stupidity on official websites has made me reluctant to contribute a year+ subscription/hefty donation to *any* mag.

    3. Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    The award-nominated stories for that year? Not. A. Chance. In fact, that would alienate me.

    A collection of previous years’ award-nominees would be a different matter.

    4. Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    I don’t know. For me, there’s always been free fiction. My introduction to short SF was Strange Horizons. *shrugs*

    However, perhaps due to the many places to get fiction, I have a limited attention span and low stupidity tolerance. The fiction needs to be consistently *good* and *easily available* . Regardless of its Free/Paying status, if quality drops or Events Annoy me it is very, very easy to go elsewhere.

    It takes effort to pay up and no effort to click away. I’m willing to pay, but it had better be worth it.

    Female; 23

  140. Steve Buchheit on August 23rd, 2008

    1. Not the publisher as much as the author (if I like the story). Although the magazine’s name will stick in my head (more than if I read the story in an anthology).

    2. On the basis of a single story, no. On multiple good stories, yes. Also I have supported online publications that publish good material consistently.

    3. No. Although since F&SF has a few nominations each year, making a compilation issue might sell.

    4. No. Much of what is free isn’t good. A small fee for aggregation and editing of good short fiction, as I’ve already stated, I’m willing to pay for.

  141. Pat Smythe on August 23rd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? One story may not get me to subscribe, but a history of interesting material will.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? Yes.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? I think I would, especially if I was voting. When I buy a publication, I am buying the entire content. And I enjoy more than just the story.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? Not at all. I very much like short fiction and buy anthologies regularly. I grew up in the 60s reading my brother’s SF magazines and paperbacks and that has kept my interest life-long.

    51 yrs

  142. KNB on August 23rd, 2008

    Fiftyish, long-time spec-fic reader, now also a writer.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    - Sometimes, if they have Paypal. A couple of online magazines I read regularly, and those I support with an annual contribution. Others I support with occasional Paypal donations. If they don’t have Paypal, I don’t bother.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    - No. I buy individual copies. Top reasons for buying print mags: Stories by authors I know personally; appeals to save the mag; interesting cover. None of these is a useful business model.

    - I think online magazines take more risks, and often run more interesting stories. The print mags tend not to be as experimental, probably because they have a larger audience to satisfy. Also, there’s the bundling effect: A print mag will have 1-2 stories I love, and many others that don’t appeal.

    - I find it easier to read short fiction online. Compared with paper and print of mags, the look onscreen is cleaner and less cramped. Though I still buy books for novel- length stuff, which I find hard to read onscreen – especially in badly designed and inflexible PDFs.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    - Probably not.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    - It’s made me more inclined to read short fiction. I’d let all my subs lapse because I lost interest. The online stories made the genre fresh again for me as a reader. I do pay for one sub for a new magazine that sends me a PDF file, and I found that one on-line.

    - I’m not, BTW, talking about edgy stuff that wouldn’t go in a family magazine (though I read those too, online). I’m just talking about stories that are different and novel. It’s not that the print magazines don’t have them, but the online magazines have more.

  143. Matt Ruff on August 23rd, 2008

    I’m 42.

    1. When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not unless the publisher is also the author. Good writing makes me want to read more by that writer. What excites me about a publisher is good publishing.

    In the case of print publishing, that means a well-designed, physically pleasing book or magazine, reasonably priced for what it is. Ready availability is also a plus, although Amazon.com and the postal service pretty much have that covered.

    In the case of online publishing, what you’re really talking about is a highly specialized library service, and I judge it in much the same way I judge a bricks-and-mortar library. Does it offer stuff I want to read? Is it easy and pleasant to use? Is the price of admission reasonable? This last question is a killer for people hoping to charge a subscription for online magazines, because the “holdings” of an online publication are generally absurdly small. If someone opened a library across the street from your house offering nothing but back issues of F&SF, how much would you pay for a library card?

    2. Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    If all I want is a hard copy of the story to keep, I’ll fire up my laser printer. If I want a nicely printed copy of the story to keep, then I might buy that particular issue of the magazine, although it’s usually better to wait for the story to appear in a collection of the author’s work.

    The only reason to subscribe to the magazine is if I want to collect the magazine, which I almost surely don’t. If just want to read the magazine I’ll either read it for free online, or buy a copy of the latest issue at the airport to read on a flight and then throw away.

    3. Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. I’d also point out that in the case of the Hugos, which are voted on by fans, you’d effectively be charging the judges for the privilege of deciding whether to give you a prize. Not a great strategy if you like winning.

    4. Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, the public library system did that. As every library patron knows, the correct price to just read a story — as opposed to owning a physical copy of it — is free.

  144. Chris Reuter on August 23rd, 2008

    Age: 38.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to
    support the publisher of the piece?

    Depends on what you mean by support. I won’t seek out a specific
    publisher and buy another of their books or magazines in order to “pay
    for” the free work. However, if I’ve read some very good short
    stories for free on a specific magazine’s website, I’ll be more
    inclined to pay for the paper version with the expectation that it
    will be more of the same quality.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story
    you read on their site?

    I’ve never subscribed to a print (fiction) magazine at all, but I have
    purchased single issues to get a story by an author who I previously
    discovered online.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated
    stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an
    issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. But I might pay for a paper copy of those stories.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made
    you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Absolutely not. If it’s worth my time, it’s worth my money. The
    advantage of free online fiction is that I can start reading it to see
    if it’s worth my time without needing to make any other kind of
    investment.

    One other thought:

    I almost never pay for downloads and that goes double for services
    employing DRM. I would, however, be willing to pay a monthly
    subscription fee to read the current issue and all previous issues
    online.

  145. Josh English on August 23rd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Yes, especially if I know the site only pays writers through donated funds

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    The cost of an issue? No. 99 cents? Yes. Maybe 2 bucks for a longer story. I think the last issue of F&SF I bought was $4.95. A short story isn’t worth that much to me unless I know the author is good and someone I like to read. At this point, as a reader, the editor doesn’t much matter to me.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No, but it has opened up the amount of short fiction I can read on a limited budget in tough financial times. The glut of free fiction, though, has taught me the importance of editors. I run across lots of stories that have been through an “editor” or at least someone who said “I’ll put this on the site” without even so much as a spell check.

  146. Joanne Merriam on August 23rd, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    In the sense of buying more of their offerings, yes. In the sense of donations, only very rarely.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Yes.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Not because they’re Hugo- or Nebula-nominated. But if they happen to be by one of my favourite authors, then possibly. It would depend in a large part on how difficult it is to process the payment, how long the story is (I’d be more likely to pay for a novella) and if the story is available elsewhere. If a story was available for a fraction of the cost of an issue, I’d be more likely to pay for it. PayPaling somebody a buck doesn’t seem like a big deal, and I’d get a lot of stuff on a whim. 5 bucks becomes an amount of money I’d have to think about more.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No, I think it has made me more inclined to pay for short fiction. I used to be a novel-only kind of girl, in part because I just like longer stories, and in part because I hate the tactile sensation of touching newsprint, so unless somebody got me a gift subscription I never read short fiction. I only really started reading short fiction about ten years ago, and it was because it was available online for free.

  147. Joanne Merriam on August 23rd, 2008

    Oops! I forgot to say, I’m 35.

  148. Jake Freivald on August 23rd, 2008

    I’m 36 and male.

    Nine months ago I started an online magazine of extremely short fiction called Flash Fiction Online, so this topic is top of mind for me. I recently thought about the same issues when looking at my own business model.

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I think of the author first, but even before I started my own ‘zine I thought about supporting the publisher of fiction that I like. I want them to keep publishing good stuff. I went with advertising and a tip jar, but they’re not currently lucrative and I have serious doubts about how well they’d support something as expansive as F&SF.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but I don’t subscribe to very many things. I’ve made newsstand purchases because of stories I’ve read on their Web sites; that, along with previous experience with them, is a prime indication of quality.

    But that’s what really matters — quality — and my expectation of quality depends on how much I trust the editor. I’ll pick up F&SF or Asimov’s or Ellery Queen because I know that they get a lot of good slush to choose from and they make their choices well. There are other small press or free sites whose editors I trust as well (e.g., Shimmer, http://www.shimmerzine.com), and I’m just as likely to subscribe to those. (Shimmer is one of the few that I subscribe to, because they don’t sell on the newsstands.)

    On the other hand, there are magazines that I wouldn’t have bought if I had had a chance to sample their wares online first.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. It would probably annoy me, to be honest, and I’d hope to listen to them on Escape Pod instead, or wait for them to come out in an anthology.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not really. Professional editing matters. A lot.

  149. M. Frost on August 23rd, 2008

    Thanks for conducting the survey! I applaud your efforts toward evidence-based decision-making!!

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Often. When I read a story I really like, I’m most inclined to support the author. I also become more interested in the publishing venue. If this is a print or online journal, and I read enough stories I like, I consider a subscription.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Conditionally yes–I’ve chosen a few subscriptions based on SEVERAL stories or poems I read that I really enjoyed. A single great story isn’t enough to wow me into a subscription, but a tradition of great stories IS.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Hard to say. For some authors, yes. For authors I don’t know, probably not.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Not really. I usually am a targeted reader. That is, I seek the work of authors I know and love, and I’ll use the purchase of a magazine featuring their work as an opportunity to read pieces by authors I don’t know. I also discover writers new to me through the free online journals–usually from a very select group of high-quality online spec fiction sites.

    I’m in my 30s.

  150. Dave Kmiecik on August 24th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Sort of. I feel inclined to reward the author, and the publisher benefits as the middle man.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I can’t see that happening. I already subscribe to Fantasy and Science Fiction and Asimov’s. Any thing I missed is bound to be in either Hartwell or Dozier’s Best of the Year anthology.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    See my answer to the preceding question.

  151. Jackie M. on August 24th, 2008

    1. Yes. (Or rather: if I read several stories I like, I will be inclined to support a publisher, in the hopes of reading more stories like those. One story, however memorable, is probably not enough.)

    2. No. (I have, however, read stories online and then gone and purchased single issues from my local newsstand/bookseller. Which is not always easy to do, given the relative unavailability of newsstand copies of most short fiction magazines.)

    3. Unlikely. I have a hard enough time guilting myself into reading all of the nominees on the Hugo ballot in any given year; charging me for them will just encourage me to give in to my lazy impulses.

    4. I barely even noticed short fiction outside of the odd anthology (see relative unavailability of newsstand copies, and throw in “lack of obvious placement anywhere near actual genre novels in actual bookstores”) until I started reading Strange Horizons and Scifiction. So while you could argue that the availability of easily-grazed, online short fiction makes me less inclined to subscribe to print magazines, I’m basically only considering it at all because they introduced me to the form.

    You have not included what seems to be your real question: would I pay to access short fiction? And the answer is: sometimes, yes, maybe. If I hear good things about a story, or an author, or if I’m just bored one day at work and the title is fun, yes. I would download the odd story for a buck or two. (But Matt Ruff is write about charging for Hugo nominees: that’s a bad idea if you’re interested in winning.)

  152. Amy Sterling Casil on August 24th, 2008

    I had approximately the same number of readers for “To Kiss the Star” (free) as John Scalzi was saying he had for his recent story. About 5% ended up paying the modest cost that was asked for it after the “free” period was over.

    I don’t know about the payment structure, but I can understand John’s “eyeballs to eyeballs” comparison.

    I’m involved in a new venture in which we may see how this type of thing goes on and proves financially beneficial, so I’ll update on it in a couple of weeks or so.

  153. Matthew Wayne Selznick on August 24th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Absolutely. I put this into the context of podcast fiction — I listen to several podcasts that present short fiction. I’ve donated to the podcast, purchased material that the author of the short story published elsewhere, and done what I could to spread awareness of the venue.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, but I have donated to web magazines with no print presence. I’ve also subscribed to all three digest sf magazines repeatedly since the 1980′s.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Probably not. However, I don’t read them online, either. However, the podcast Escape Pod has presented audio versions of the Hugo nominees for a few years now, and I do support Escape Pod.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Absolutely not. I support the form, and I’m very likely to directly support an author through online donation and the purchase of other media by that author.

    To provide your age comparison, I’m 41 years old.

    To put my answers into further context, I’m an author whose first novel, “Brave Men Run — A Novel of the Sovereign Era,” is available as a free podcast and has an e-book edition that is offered on a “pay what it’s worth” model. I also have a paperback edition published by Swarm Press, an MP3 CD audiobook edition, and will have iPhone and Kindle editions available very soon.

    I’m a strong believer in providing a free version of your content because I’ve seen how well it works to build audience — about 20,000 people, and counting, have experienced “Brave Men Run” in one form or another. That’s a lot of people who are ready to consume more content from me. And yeah, they’re willing to pay for it. The Swarm Press edition has been as high as #53 on the Amazon bestseller chart, and continues to perform well. “Free” works as an audience-builder and I strongly recommend it as a marketing strategy for authors.

  154. John Klima on August 25th, 2008

    I’ve numbered the questions.

    1. Yes. Whether it’s an online publisher or a print publisher, I try my best to support as much of the short fiction field as I can. I particularly try to support new endeavors since I’d like to see what people do.

    2. My heart wants to say yes, but my brain keeps telling me no. Gordon carefully puts print magazine in the question to exclude places like Strange Horizons, Lone Star Stories, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Farrago’s Wainscot which don’t have a subscriptionable product. I honestly can’t think of any examples other than myself of print magazines that have put up online fiction, either for the heck of it or as a means to draw in subscribers. Now, if the next question wasn’t there, I might think otherwise, but I’m excluding magazines that put up award-nominated stories from this question. I know a few places have started to put up free fiction, but I’ve either already been a subscriber to those magazines or decided to not subscribe.

    3. I was going to say “I don’t I think I would,” and I’m going to change that to “no I wouldn’t” and be more emphatic about it. For me, the point of posting award-nominated stories is to assist in the voting process. I realize that there are people who read the stories for free this way and do not vote, but I can only speak for my own purposes. Now, if those nominated stories were available together (even in a POD format) as a sort of 2007 Award-Nominated Stories from F&SF publication? That could be something worth talking about.

    4. No. But I may be an exception. I do know that I’m prone to read the online, free fiction before my magazines for several reasons. The print magazines have a permanance: they are always there for me to read. I can get to them at my lesiure. The online fiction might stay up forever, there might be stories that get taken down, the publisher might only have them up for a limited time, etc. Also, since I tend to spend at least eight hours a day in front of a computer, it’s very convenient to read the online fiction. A new issue of Clarksworld Magazine or Strange Horizons only has a few stories compared to their print counterparts, so it takes me less time to read an entire issue. I think the prevalence of free fiction online has made it so that I am unwilling to pay for online fiction.

  155. Kell Brown on August 25th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not the publisher, no. It raises the profile of the author and I’ll look for the author again at the bookstore and I’ll be motivated to buy any magazine where their name appears in the table of contents. I don’t feel any obligation towards the publisher. What they put out for free I view as advertising. Like conventional advertising it comes with a cost with the expectation of later return which in a magazine’s case is a new or repeat subscriber. What motivates me to support the publisher is what they bring to the table. The content they provide in addition to or in support the stories (interviews, industry news, things I didn’t know I wanted to know before you wrote them). Consistently good stories, entertaining editorials, reviews, etc.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. It’s not enough to subscribe. The entire table of contents has to be good, month after month, even at Christmas, Halloween and on April 1st where the temptation to give into the holiday spirit is higher than the desire for a good story..

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    It’s conditional. If I’m subscriber charging for access is definitely not on since I already have those stories and I’ll feel like I’m being goosed for a thirteenth month for no additional value. Subscribers should get access for free. If I’m not a subscriber I might like to see a full paper production with all the nominees in it and some additional content (again, interviews, etc).

    I wouldn’t pay for online access. I don’t enjoy reading off my screen enough and for those stories I would bother to read most authors, in the interests of increasing their chances, post their nominated stories on their own websites.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I’ll happily pay for online stories written at the professional level, but magazine websites are usually poorly maintained, the material is badly presented (I imagine some of this is cost) and it’s often provided only in HTML for reading in the web browser (I want it to be as mobile as the paper copy, if the story in the magazine has pictures, the mobi/pdf/screen version should have pictures) so the experience is never that enjoyable so I tend to stay away entirely, free or not.

    Maybe a more direct answer for a slightly different question would help. Would I pay for F&SF as download? Yes. Provided it had the same production values as the print one and there was no delay between the release of the paper version and the digital. I still prefer the dead tree version because I’m not a subscriber and I can pick up an issue when the table of contents and the cover art entice me to do so.

  156. Sean OBrien on August 25th, 2008

    I’m a 46 year old aspiring scifi author and while you didn’t ask our opinions I’ll phrase mine in context of your questions.

    If the website for a free online story is well run then there will be advertising links which interest me. I will click on those links because they are relevant to me, this supports the author. Pay per Click ads cost me nothing. Affliate ads cost me money, but I’m getting something I want.

    I would be unlikely to subscribe to a magazine regardless of their online content.

    I might pay to read Hugo and Nebula nominees, if it were a reasonable price. This would be a convenience, and possibly a faster way to read the candidates.

    Free science fiction short stories are definitely taking revenue away from you. I am much less likely to pay for stories, even if the free ones have lower quality.

    The reason I publish my work online is that I’ll make far more money from advertising than I’ll ever make from publishing short stories. Novels are a different topic, the money is probably greater for paper novels.

  157. Steve L on August 25th, 2008

    I almost never read short sf and fantasy fiction online, and I don’t think I am missing much. I worked for several years as a web programmer so I am not exactly a Luddite. Although computer monitors have gotten much better over time, I don’t find it comfortable to sit and stare at a light source for reading enjoyment.

    I subscribe to F-and-SF (30 years now), Asimov’s, Analog, Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, PostScript Magazine, and also buy most of the well-reviewed original anthologies in the genre.

    As for the questions:
    1. I already support most professional-level publishers in the genre, even though I am not likely to read the online fiction they might offer.

    2. No. A reliable way to find good publications is to pick up a recent “best of the year” anthology and see where the stories you like were originally printed.

    3. Not too likely, since I probably already have the story on my shelf.

    4. Sadly, yes, I think there is an expectation that fiction online should be free, which is coupled with the expectation that free fiction is amateur-level fiction.

    50 years old

  158. Jonathan Strahan on August 25th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I want to lie and say ‘yes’, but the truth is that I tend to take things for granted when I find them online. The basic paradigm for the internet is that everything should be free, so when I find something like a story online for free it just seems how things should be. I’d need something else to prompt me to want to support the publisher, like being able to buy a nice print copy of the story, or something. Also, mostly I think when you’re reading it feels like the relationship is with the author and not the publisher, so it seems like a rather abstract connection to make to get to wanting to support the publisher because you’ve read a story on their website.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No, and I don’t think I would. I’m a very poor example, though. I subscribe to F&SF and Asimov’s, but I also get emailed them for free because I read for my year’s best. Pondering it a little more, I *have* been interested in buying something else from a publisher based on their site but its because the magazine looks cool or has a lot of writers I happen to like, rather than because of something free on a website.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. And I wouldn’t. Publishing award-nominated fiction on a website is a promotional activity. Why would I pay for someone to promote their stuff to me? Also, to get me to pay for something I want to end up with a physical object. However, probably contradicting what I’ve said, publishing award-nominated stories on your website does make me think warmly about the publisher – it’s good promotion.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    I think the existence of the internet has made me feel less like paying for anything online. If you’re not buying a physical object, everything feels like it should be free. So, I don’t think more free fiction online makes me feel less inclined to pay for short fiction – I’m very happy to pay for short fiction, I’m just not going to do it online.

  159. Jonathan Strahan on August 25th, 2008

    One more thing. If F&SF (and the other mags) made issues available on the F&SF website, and if I could buy single stories from each issue (much as you can buy tracks from iTunes rather than albums), then I think I would. For example, the latest issue of F&SF is $4.50 on Fictionwise. I could see paying $0.75 for a specific story I wanted, and being happy to pay it if I could just click a Paypal button or something.

  160. Jules on August 26th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Not particularly. I do usually feel inclined to seek out more work by the same author, which often ends up with me buying stuff from the same publisher, but that’s not necessarily the case.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. I’ve never subscribed to a print magazine at all.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Probably not, no. Put it at a lower price point (maybe half that) and I’d consider it.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I rarely paid for short fiction before the online stuff was available either — I used to make regular stops at my local library’s periodicals section instead. The vast majority of the money I spend on short fiction is on collections, and I think I buy as many of those now as I ever did.

  161. Jamie Grove - How Not To Write on August 26th, 2008

    1. I do but that’s only because I understand a little of what it takes to produce genre fiction (I’m also a mystery reader). That said, I do tend to support the author more than the publisher.

    2. Yes, but that was Atlantic Monthly and the only reason I subscribed was to get access to back issues online. I haven’t used it as much as I thought I would and now I’m letting that subscription lapse.

    3. Probably not unless you were also touting the fact that it was going to be a rev-share with the authors. But how much would you charge? I couldn’t see paying more than $0.99 to read a story and then you have to ask whether that’s really worth it in the big scheme of things.

    4. Not so much. Short fiction is my candy. (well, actually, candy is my candy but I’m sure you get the general idea)

    Age 38

  162. Schoey Chaelly on August 26th, 2008

    Q: When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    This depends on whether the story-I-liked was a fluke. I try to read (or, at least, skim) several of the stories before I decide whether or not I want to pay for a collection of them. If the publisher’s tastes seem to align with my own after a few first-reads, then I’m inclined to trust the publisher’s tastes and hope future publications will appeal to me all the same.

    Q: Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Never just one. Refer to the above – but I have.

    Q: Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    A: Not if the others are available for free. I understand that the publishers are in the market of selling stories, but I understand Hugos (et al.) to be applauding the author. I would guess that pricing those nominations might stand in the way of drawing new readers to an author (who wants to pay for someone they can’t trust to write a good story, nominated or otherwise?)

    Q: Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    Absolutely. To me, short fiction can be like the Myspace for writing: it is a sampling of an author’s style and imagination. If I want -more- short stories by the same author (or a publisher after I trust its tastes), then I will buy them. Some short fiction should be made free by Publishers – it’s good business for the authors (“eyeballs to eyeballs”), and it’s worked for music. It doesn’t mean Publishers have to offer up loads of free stuff, but it’s a Teaser Market now.

    Age 22.

  163. Fabrice Doublet on August 26th, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    Yes.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    When I began subscribing to magazines (circa 1992-95), it was because I had read good stories in anthologies that were first published in these magazines.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    I don’t need to since since I have a sub.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No. I read free stories online, but still pay for my favorite magazines and anthologies.

  164. Hakan on August 26th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? – Yes. I tend to go to Amazon and buy a book or two, especially if I liked the writer and the style.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? – No. I would buy that month’s edition. On the other hand, I already buy F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog and Interzone almost every month

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? – Not really. Not all Hugo/Nebula-nominated stories are to my taste. I would prefer to read them for free, if I can. If I like the writer, I’ll get a book from him/her. If I already have many of his/her stuff, probably I’d buy it in any case.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? – No. I will get the stuff I like for cash or free but having it free makes my life easier. I am not here to make the publisher rich. Some writers have donation links in their pages and more than once I have dropped the occasional £5 – which is more than the cost of F&SF in UK at its retail value. Publisher might get less but definitely the writer gets more. I like it that way.

  165. Benjamin Rosenbaum on August 27th, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Yes.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    I’m not sure, but I may have — McSweeney’s comes to mind; I believe I liked their online offering before subscribing to their print version, and that would have factored into my decision.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No.

  166. CC on August 27th, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? More the author than the publisher, but sometimes a publisher’s actions cause you to sit up and take notice (Let me tell you how much I love Baen).
    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? I don’t read print magazines, but I have bought a lot of print book compilations on that basis.
    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? Nope.
    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction. Heavens, no. In fact, I’d almost forgotten how enjoyable a short story could be until I started reading some again online.

    28, Female, Lifelong SF&F reader.

  167. TMD on August 27th, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? More the author than the publisher. But if the publisher shows themselves to consistently pick stuff I like, then yes.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? Not yet, but I could see it happening.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? Nope.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? Not at all. If anything, it’s more likely. I’m quite reluctant to subscribe to a mag (or buy an anthology) site unseen. And there’s a lot of new authors out there that I don’t know. So having short fiction freely available online makes me MORE likely to buy into publishers (magazines or otherwise) that consistently deliver the goods online.

    The key here (for me) is getting to know new authors. If I see a mag issue that has mostly stories by authors I love, I’d buy it. If I don’t recognize them, I wouldn’t (unless I could browse a bit, like in a retail bookstore). So if you gave away short fiction from each author on your site, but just enough so I can decide if I like them — then I could make a more informed decision about purchasing.

    Just imagine, someday we might even be so technologically advanced that I could “build my own magazine” each month. You list the titles and teasers available for each author (new and old), and I select which half dozen I want in my October issue. Ta-da! Customized mags for all! ;-)

    35, female, SF&F reader since childhood

  168. Michael Natale on August 28th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? <<< Yes, and have done so many times where I otherwise would not have been exposed to a particular author or magazine.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? <<< Yes – showing a taste of what a magazine publishes is far better advertising than virtually anything else. Barring being able to flip through a physical printed edition at a bookstore, tasting a sample online is very effective.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? <<< It would depend on how many stories were being offered for how much, but if at least 2 or 3 were authors I was into OR if a couple stories sounded interesting based on a brief summary, I probably would take the chance.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? <<< Not at all. The internet is such a new, dynamic global distribution channel for authors and publishers that I think the smart ones are using it to get content into the hands of consumers fast an inexpensively. Because of the ease of ‘publishing’ content, not all of the stuff that appears online is great. Personally if I find something offered for free that I really really like, after reading it I’ll donate/purchase/subscribe in order to support the content creator and hopefully get more. Joss Whedon’s internet serial “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” is a perfect example of this. I realize you wanted this limited to print fiction but the philosophy and success of this experiment translates over almost directly: content is content and if you produce something of quality, people will pay. Even if you give it to them for free at first.

  169. Susan on August 29th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I give absolutely no thought to the publisher in any circumstances. Unless I’m cataloguing something.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    Nope.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    No. There’s something called a library. It doesn’t exist on the internet, but in essence, FREE BOOKS!!!111one

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No. If I really like something I’ve read for free (online, library, borrowed from a friend) then I go and buy my own hard copy of it. Of course, there’s a problem with doing that for short fiction – nobody sells individual short stories! I mean, short story collections are all right for reading, but unless I really like the overwhelming majority of the stories in it, I’m not going to buy one.

  170. summer schultz on September 2nd, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    If you mean “are you likely to then buy the hard copy magazine” the answer is yes. I’d rather read a story on paper than on a screen, anyway, because am using a computer all day for work. In my mind, I guess computer=work, book=non-work.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    No. But I have subscribed to magazines on account of really liking stories I read in the magazines.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No. I have never paid to read a story online.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No. I devour short fiction… I subscribe to several magazines, buy several annual anthologies as soon as they come out, check books out from the library, and scour the thrift stores and used book stores for older collections. I trade books with my sisters (also F&SF fans.) Free short stories will not prevent me from buying books or magazines – they might actually entice me to spend even more money to check out a new author, collection, or magazine publication.

    I’m a 41-year-old female whose parents used to subscribe to F&SF – I’ve been reading this magazine for 35 years!

  171. Jim Henry on September 4th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    I’ve donated money to Strange Horizons and The Infinite Matrix before, so yes.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Electric Velocipede, because of story excerpts (not a whole story) that were on the site, — and also favorable reviews (on Tangent Online maybe?)

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    Well, not F&SF, because I would already own the issue in question. Asimov’s, ditto. Analog, probably not, because most of the Hugo-nominated stories they’ve posted on their site in recent years haven’t made me want to subscribe; not my kind of story, for the most part. Some other zine: quite possibly.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    I subscribe to four sf magazines now; ten years ago, only one (F&SF then, that plus Asimov’s, Electric Velocipede, and LCRW now). That ten years roughly corresponds to when lots of good free short fiction became available online. Overall I’m more interested in short fiction and relatively less interested in long novels and series than I used to be; not sure if that’s because of the greater availability of short fiction or because of my age (I’m 35) or what.

  172. Lyn C. A. Gardner on September 5th, 2008

    # When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    It depends. If I love all the stories I read for an issue, and the publisher is offering this as a teaser to get print subscriptions, I might be inclined to subscribe. I’d be less inclined if I could consistently get the whole thing for free, but if you had a full free sample issue and a significant discount for complete online subscriptions–say 1/3 the print price–I might be inclined to do that. However, I’d be much more likely to spend money to receive a physical product. I don’t know if it matters, but I’d be much more inclined to subscribe if this were the model: a full online subscription to all content, with email alerts when new content arrives; the price of a current print subscription would instead cover both the online access and a POD trade paperback anthology of the stories/articles I liked best at the end of the year (you’d need some system to let me mark them in my account online as I read them, for future inclusion). I would gladly do that rather than pay for a subscription; I’m much more likely to keep an anthology and return to it, particularly if it contained only the stories I loved best, and I don’t like to pay for things I’m not going to keep and use again. I have limited space and dislike having to keep entire issues for the few stories I love–let alone paying that much for the flimsy format of a magazine, the difficulty in quickly figuring out which issue contains the stories I want (I seldom want to reread the whole thing), etc.

    # Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    Maybe. I’d have to love a significant percentage of the content included in that issue.

    # Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    I’d love to pay to get a trade paperback of just those stories.

    # Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    No. However, when I do pay for short fiction, I prefer to have it in trade paperback format–I buy a LOT of anthologies and single-author collections. Magazines are usually too much of a mixed bag and the format is way too fragile for my tastes.

  173. FS on September 5th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?
    - Yes. I feel inclined to support outlets that put out the kind of material I want to read, in terms of quality and taste.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?
    - Yes, I subscribed to the New Yorker. Admittedly it wasn’t just for the fiction–they don’t have enough per issue to make it worthwhile for that reason alone, but the overall quality of what I was reading online favorably impressed me. They post most, if not all, of their magazine content on their web site for free. (I know, it’s probably nowhere near the same target market.)

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?
    - No, not to read them online. I might buy a special edition or something, but to be honest, I’m not particularly driven by awards, etc.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?
    -No. If anything, it has made me more inclined to pay for it. Quantity doesn’t necessarily equate to quality, and for myself, I find that publishers provide a filter that saves me time and energy sifting through the exponentially increasing online offerings. What sells me on a particular publication is also the personality of that publication, which is in large part due to its editors.

  174. FS on September 5th, 2008

    Sorry, I forgot to include my age in the previous comment. I’m 31.

  175. Glenn H on September 5th, 2008

    On the subject but off the wall. How about give the first half of the story free but sell the other half for I don’t know-whatever. Stop it right when it gets nice and juicy. I think you should try it for a great story just to test on an experimental sister site. To read the rest of the story click the Paypal here. Would it work or make people mad? Maybe state FREE introduction of a great new story, if they like it they can support the author and publisher.

  176. Dave A on September 18th, 2008

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? — Finding the free content on the F&SF site inspired me to subscribe and start buying back issues.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? — Yes, See Above.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? — No.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? — Again, see # 1.

    I’m 55.

  177. ET on September 25th, 2008

    Hi, Gordon. Some thoughts about this instead of directly answering your questions.

    Perhaps I’d better address free stuff in general, novels in particular, since I have more of what to base my observation compared to just short stories.

    First of all, when it comes to reading, I don’t like reading fiction online, but if the story or book is downloadable, I’d read it. I have several devices which can let me read e-books. I buy e-books (have done so at Fictionwise and Baen), and get them for free when I can.

    To me, getting books for free increases my awareness of the author and the store, and to a much lesser extent the publisher. If the publisher has an online store (Baen for example), that’s a win for the publisher.

    Making available free books doesn’t really hurt, the way I see it, but limiting what is available is a good idea. Baen has allowed making most (all?) of the Honor Harrington series available online. Had only the first book or two been made available, I might have bought the next ones. Since I got tired of the series around book 4, I didn’t buy any of these books, which IMO is a loss to Baen.

    I’m not sure whether the large number of free products results in a loss of sales. A lot of free stuff isn’t high quality enough to become a replacement source for content. I will make do with free stuff only in fields I’m unlikely to buy products (such as roleplaying games, in which I have only superficial interest right now). For novels, I’ve shifted somewhat from buying in stores to buying online, but except for cases like the above, I’d say that free books haven’t greatly changed how much I buy. (Though reduction in free time has had an effect.)

    I also don’t distinguish that much between free and low cost. There’s a difference, of course, in that I’ll take whatever is given to me for free, and won’t buy all that’s cheap, but if I’m offered something I perceive as good value, I’d buy it. I typically expect e-books to cost considerably less than print books for me to consider them good value.

    Considering this, regarding the Hugo and Nebula nominations, I think that I would consider buying them if they were offered as a downloadable collection for a low price (I wouldn’t pay for an online-only version). However, for me they fall into the same category as roleplaying material, so that’d have to seem particularly good value.

  178. Cat Sparks on October 12th, 2008

    There is so much high quality short fiction available right now, both in print and electronic form, that I feel utterly swamped and spoiled for choice. I like Jonathan’s suggestion of being able to buy a single story from a magazine the same way we download a single song from itunes. That way I could keep abreast of favourite authors and stories attracting particular attention. I would support a publisher who’d let me cherry pick like that.

  179. ET on October 18th, 2008

    Just wanted to add an example from another field.

    Game publisher Midway has recently made several back catalogue games available for free download. Each of the file names begins with “midway”, which made sure I didn’t forget. After the third such game was made available, I looked at the publisher’s site.

    Before that, I was not aware of Midway. They’re a small publisher, and though they published Unreal Tournament 3, a high profile game, I never even knew that. So giving away these games definitely increased my awareness of Midway, plus it engendered some good vibes towards it. No immediate financial reward in it, but considering they’re selling on their site old arcade games like Gauntlet II in packs of 3 for $5, they might get some money from me.

  180. David Smith on October 26th, 2008

    * When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the
    publisher of the piece?

    Absolutely – yes. Its always better to read a real magazine (i.e print) or a real book.
    Of course this raises the issue about what makes a ‘real’ magazine. Basically for
    me a magazine has an engaged community – not just a monthly collection of
    short stories. The editors ; publishes; writers; columnists, readers presence is what
    matters and what makes the difference – of course original stories help too. It has been
    said by our esteemed editor that stories are generally only read once. Well thats
    certainly not true of Analog SF – they have been publishing the same story for 75 years.

    * Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story
    you read on their site?

    yes – to be honest only political magazines. there are relatively few online
    sf magazines – i would buy interzone if i could get it delivered here (online is
    the only way i can keep in touch with the magazine). generally it can be
    harder than it should be to subscribe to sf magazines and get them delivered.

    * Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    I think F & SF would do better to have tiered subscriptions (mag only; mag + full web content) – so that long term subscribers get some reward.

    * Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to
    pay for short fiction?

    No- i think sf and f and sf has to address underlying topics that matter. Readers
    – well… human beings like to belong to something. F & SF needs to be more of a
    magazine and less of a monthly erudite collection of stories.

    Thanks for inviting comments Gordon – Ive done my best to be constructive (hoever it reads! )

    David

  181. Karl Ruben on October 28th, 2008

    1. I always feel inclined to support the writer of the piece – the desire to support the venue/publisher is contingent on whether they present a product that catches my interest. I’m sorry to say that I seldom make the effort to PayPal a dollar or two into a tip jar; but stories on places like Clarkesworld, your site, or Electric Velocipede, where they’re representing a desirable end product (Clarkesworld’s anthology, F&SF, EV), a good story makes it much more likely that I order a book or a subscription.

    2. Yes.

    3. No. However, a PDF/ebook anthology of the year’s award nominated from F&SF, like John Klima suggested, would be interesting.

    4. Absolutely, most emphatically not. The opposite, definitely!

  182. Laura on November 27th, 2008

    1. When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece? No. I feel that they put it out there for free, so they aren’t expecting compensation.

    2. Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site? Absolutely I have. I find most of the free content I read online to be inferior, and even some published work in my opinion is not great. If I read something I think is amazing, I would definately subscribe to the magazine in hopes of reading more fine work.

    3. Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so? Depends on the price. I wouldn’t pay the cost of the entire issue to read just one story.

    4. Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction? I do a lot more searching, reading free stuff online trying desperately trying to find something worth my time. But, I am more likely to find something great which then motivates me to pay. Without the option of looking, I have become reluctant to pay because I am most often disappointed.

    I like to keep books I like and short fiction as well. I read them again and again. I will admit I get all my news online, and don’t subscribe to a newspaper. I have different feelings towards my fiction. I like to have it. I like to lend it to others. I find the story often changes with each reading and I take away something new. .

    Oh, and I’m 30.

  183. rreugen on February 27th, 2009

    When you read a story online that you like, do you feel inclined to support the publisher of the piece?

    Sort of.
    I always click on the ads, because I read that this is a way for an online publisher to get revenue.

    Have you ever subscribed to a print magazine on account of a story you read on their site?

    Again, sort of.
    The reason for subscribing to F&SF for me was that I discovered how the editor’s selection of stories was much to my taste. I discovered that by following the TOC’s published on the website, reading free online stories and stories selected in anthologies.

    Most magazine publishers post their Hugo- and Nebula-nominated stories online for free. If F&SF started charging the cost of an issue to read these stories, would you do so?

    No.

    Do you think the prevalence of free short fiction online has made you less inclined to pay for short fiction?

    No.
    I would like to see F&SF go online and like it even more with a print-on-demand option. I would like to be able to pay for individual stories.
    I would like to see a nice, serious online magazine that uses the medium at it’s best, not like the e-zines of today which only try to copy the looks of the print mags.

    And, Gordon, to point to Scalzi that those who read the story on his site are not paying costumers is a little unfair in my opinion.
    They are paying costumers. My Internet sub is more expensive then the sub to F&SF. And by clicking pages and ads on websites, I redirect some of those money MYSELF to the authors/publishers I want.

    I think that the Internet Free Fiction lacks in quality, generally speaking. And I think some of it it’s your fault, actually. You are a good editor, a serious publisher and the owner of one of the most valued and respected magazines of the genre. If you would start publishing online more, with the same respect for quality and literature that you show to the print magazine, it would set a quality benchmark that is sorely needed.
    I think tor.com tries for that, and you can see how important that site had become.

  184. Harvey Wartosky on June 7th, 2009

    Gordon,

    I have been a subscriber since 1957 and am now a lifetime subscriber. I have read every issue cover to cover including the 1949 first issue that I located in a dusty used book store in Cincinnati.

    I unconditionally approve of your print publishing style and enjoy the tactile experience. I like to move from one room to another or outdoors without lugging some apparatus.

    Only one recommenddation, The reprint of the Robert Block story, The Hell-Bound Train, was wonderful. I would like to see in each issue a classic story that you choose, Nebula winner or not, in each issue. Select from some of the great names like Kuttner, Blish, Vance, Zelazny. The list goes on.

    Thank you for making my life richer.

  185. Brianna Harris on August 5th, 2009

    Personally I think you made a very good choice when you asked everyone to give their ages when replying to this post. I am 24 years old currently and I know that my reply today and my reply five years ago are very different.

    When I was still in my teens I had very limited funding to spend on things like magazine subscriptions no matter how much I liked the material. No, make that no matter how much I loved the material. Whenever I could find something free online that was of quality, I would eat it up –almost literally devouring those few precious tidbits of prose. Sure, I would have loved it if I could buy it, but it wasn’t even a possibility for me back then. I was very grateful. It helped to keep me hooked on certain websites/Authors. But I couldn’t pay for it. Not then.

    Now however I have a steady job with a good income. My situation has changed drastically, and I think there is no doubt that I would subscribe to a magazine based on one good story that I was able to read online for free. Of course my continuation of that subscription would depend entirely on the rest of the content I found there once I made my initial investment.

    This isn’t only true of free content online however. If I am at Borders browsing through magazines and happen to read an intriguing story in one of them while waiting for my coffee, I am very likely to bring that magazine home with me.

    On a similar line, I hate to buy books and magazines online if I cannot read something of what is inside. I have no idea if I am wasting money on something I am not interested in.

    This reluctance to buy unknown material is something that has obviously come to the attention of Amazon and other locations (ie: Audible). Consider the Kindle (Electronic Reader). When creating their online bookstore for the Kindle they made sure that everyone could download and read one full chapter of the book they wanted before they actually made the purchase. This is also a method used on their main website where you can “preview” books. I am not sure of the exact statistics, but I am guessing that more of the pre-viewable books are sold on average.

    As for whether or not I would pay the full price of an issue for a single online story….the answer is no. Not for just one story that was originally part of a collection selling for the same price.

  186. Frances Grimble on October 23rd, 2009

    This is October 22–and I just received the April/May issue with your editorial on this blog. (It may be the fault of my local PO.) I don’t view this website often. So it seems a bit late to comment on your questionnaire, but I will anyway.

    I run a small press (books). My strong feeling is that free content absolutely, almost always, undermines paid content. And that this trend increases as time goes on and readers are more and more trained to expect publications free.

    But, my experience is that many if not most readers don’t admit that getting freebies does not make them buy more publications, at times and places when they think publishers are keeping tabs. They do not want publishers to stop posting free content on the grounds that it is not working as marketing. It is easy for readers to claim that free content makes them pay for more fiction, but publishers have to see whether their numbers are actually working that way.

    Most readers who have no connection with publishing, are clueless about all the editorial and production stages that take place between submission by the author and the printing of the publication. They see publishers as unncessary middlemen, and even as greedy profit takers. They have no idea of the necessity of distributors and wholesalers and if they even understand these exist, definitely see them as greedy profit takers. Their model is that publications should flow straight from the author to readers–at practically no cost because they think hardly any work is being done. They think fiction authors especially are writing primarily for fun and so can do perfectly well without being paid.

    I think publishers need to reverse this trend and reset expectations. By not giving away so many freebies, and by explaining to readers what goes into editing and producing publications and how readers benefit from those steps.

  187. nathaniel dortch on January 1st, 2011

    I have seen and read a lot of fantasy fiction novels and short stories and they all seems
    to based around the exact story lines and characters like harry potter style and with only
    british white actors and actress, just like the nardia series.

    And i have written good stories starring african american and asian characters and my
    co-workers and family and friends keep telling me, why don’t i try to get these stories
    out for our minority races, like the african american, hispanics and asian cultures.

    To see a different approach for our children and young adults to see that we exist
    in fantasy and imaginations fiction and quality stories also. by me nathan dortch.

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