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F&SF is going bimonthly

The March 2009 issue will be the last monthly issue. Starting with the April/May 2009 issue, we’ll be publishing one issue every two months. Each issue will be 256 pages (16 pages longer than our last Oct/Nov issue) except for this year’s anniversary issue, which will be a jumbo.

Subscribers don’t need to take any action. If your current sub expires with the April 2009 issue or with the May 2009 issue, your sub now expires with the April/May 2009 issue.

We’ve made the change because rising costs—especially postal costs—and the current economy put us in a position where we either had to raise our rates severely or cut back somewhere. Given the state of the economy, I decided a cutback in frequency made the most sense. We’ll lose a little more than 10% of our content this year, but we should be in a great position for the coming years.

I know it’s a big change and it will take a little while to get used to it, but I think it will work out fine. Thank you all for your support.


50 Responses to “F&SF is going bimonthly”

  1. John O'Neill on January 6th, 2009

    Hey Gordon,

    As someone who especially loves those big double issues of F&SF, is it OK to say “Hey – cool!” ?

    Years ago, the double issues of F&SF were the only ones I bought. I know this is a change brought on by economic necessity, but I still find myself delighted. The bigger issues just seem more value for the money to me. Perhaps it’s because they frequently had longer stories, which I love.

    In any event, count this as one reader who doesn’t see this as a sign of the Apocalypse. :)


    – John

    John O’Neill
    Black Gate

  2. Scott Chisholm on January 7th, 2009

    I’ve really been enjoying the classic reprints that began with the December issue, and I was looking forward to a year’s worth of them. With the switch to bi-monthly, what will happen in regard to these reprints? Will there be two per issue? (I know this can’t reasonably be the case, as space for new stories cannot, and should not, be diminished any more than necesary here.) Just curious as to what might happen.

  3. Gordon Van Gelder on January 7th, 2009

    You’re not alone, John. I’ve heard from a few people who think it’s an improvement to go to six big issues.

    Scott, we’ll be running two classic reprints per issue in the next two issues. I’m not sure yet about the Aug/Sept. issue. Thanks for letting me know you like them. In the April/May issue we’ve got stories selected by Ted White and Audrey Ferman.

  4. Ken Falls on January 7th, 2009

    I understand why you will be making the changes to stay competitive although I so look forward to having a magazine in my mailbox once a month. I tear through it as soon as I possibly can! The fact that now I will have to wait two months for that feeling of elation is disheartening. I hope once our economy picks up that you would consider the format that is in place now. Please be assured that I have yet to find a magazine of this caliber and I am happy is is produced!! Thank you for your time.

  5. hnu on January 7th, 2009

    Congrats on the decision! I’m a big fan of the double issues myself, and I REALLY look forward to that jumbo anniversary issue. Imagine a copy of F&SF of around 400 pages… Sheer delight!
    Small question: is there going to be a December 2009/January 2010 double issue? How will you handle that?
    And, as a subscriber, I’d like to know when will my subscription end (it’s a 1 year subscription that started with the August 2008 issue).
    Thanks and good luck with the new format!

  6. PaperPilot on January 8th, 2009

    I can’t help but wonder what 10% will be cut. I realize I am quibbling. I enjoy all the magazine and don’t like to cut back on that enjoyment. Sigh.

  7. Jeff Silverstein on January 8th, 2009

    It’s not like one can’t understand the need. It is too bad but it way beats no F&SF at all. It’s hard to even imagine another publication so consistently fine after 60 years! I echo the sentiment that if it becomes possible to revert back to monthly please do.

    While I don’t know what a severe rate increase would mean and I assume that F&SF has done the market research to determine that more would be lost than gained I for one would take a 20% subscription hit without hesitation.

    Do what ya gotta do to keep F&SF going!

  8. pussreboots on January 8th, 2009

    I do enjoy the double Oct/Nov issue and it will give me a better chance of staying current with my reviews. This year I’m reviewing the stories at the 42 Challenge Blog. I’ve also been enjoying the reprints both in the magazines and on the website. I hope to see more of both, if possible. :)

  9. Gordon Van Gelder on January 8th, 2009

    The 10% cut is the number of total pages we’ll publish this year. It’s actually a bit over ten percent, but I’ve already forgotten precisely how many pages we’ll lose. Some of those lost pages would have had book reviews, film reviews, and “Curiosities” columns on them. Some of those pages would have had ads. And some of those pages would have had fiction on them. I suspect our total story count for 2009 will be very close to the same number of stories we published in 2008.

    For the subscription question, if your sub started with Aug. 2008 and expires with the July 2009 issue, your sub now expires with the June/July 2009 issue.

  10. EThomas on January 9th, 2009

    “[…]but we should be in a great position for the coming years.”

    I’ve been kind of confused by this part of your announcement in various places. Does this mean that _F & SF_ will be financially in a great position after this move, or does this mean that in future years we will have the same number of pages distributed over the six issues. Thanks in advance for any clarification you can provide.

    I very much appreciate the magazine and all you and your staff does for it and the SF/F/other short fiction field.

  11. Kalahari Kid on January 16th, 2009

    Maybe keep Dec and Jan as single issues, and all other months double…

  12. Jordan Hartnett on January 16th, 2009

    There is only one thing constant in the world: change. I am looking forward to seeing how things work out. I just renewed my subcscription for two-years.

    Personally, I would like to see the book reviews and movie reviews get cut rather than the stories. If you are going to cut the reviews and the “Curiosities,” then consider posting them online. Just because the magazine has less words, that doesn’t mean material has to be eliminated, it could just be posted online.

    One thing I have always enjoyed in the magazine are the cartoons. Especially the ones by S. Harris and Long. I hope we still can have those.

    Please keep up the good work. I’m sure F&SF will come out of this a stronger magazine!

  13. Mary Saenz on January 17th, 2009

    I really love this magazine. If I can only get it every two months instead of every month, I’ll live with it. I really enjoy the book reviews – that is the first section I read. Then I take my time reading each story. I hope this change in format helps the financial situation. I concur with the reply above – I would be willing to pay an additional 20% for my subscription.

  14. Joel Richards on January 20th, 2009

    I’m actually enthused about the double issue move, Gordon. Certainly because it improves the viability of the magazine, but much more than that—-it gives the mag more the feel of a book. Specifically, an original anthology, and not the kind of theme anthologies done by all and sundry by invitation (and done to death by them), those invites often to cronies. I mean the anthologies of the Universe, Orbit, Full Spectrum type—-open anthologies wherein many selections were winnowed by a fine editor to an original anthology of quality work.

    That’s how I envision an issue of a double issue F&SF coming to my mail box.

    Also—-a better candidate in this format for taking on airplane/vacation reads.

    A small caveat, though. This thing about reprints: I’ve enjoyed the hidden gems–the stories I’ve never read–but not a large section of the mag given over to Road Dog. Love the story, but I’ve read it and can read it again elsewhere. I’d rather have had an original in its place. Perhaps you might modify the reprints to be not past editors’ choices, but past editors’ hidden gem choices—-stories that might be new to many of us.

    anyways—-I’m behind the changes, and with enthusiasm.

  15. Gordon Van Gelder on January 21st, 2009

    Thanks for all the feedback.

    The reprints are only running this year as part of our Sixtieth Anniversary celebration.

    When Kris Rusch said she wanted to reprint “Road Dog,” I expected that we’d get a bunch of responses like yours, Joel. So far, though, the vast majority of responses have been along the lines of, “Thank you so much for reprinting that great story!”

  16. SHamm on January 25th, 2009

    Christ. MAD has just gone from monthly to quarterly.

    O totems of my youth!

  17. Gus Gyde on January 29th, 2009

    I am glad that our collective glass seems to be half full. The positive attitude will ensure that our economy will rebound and our magazine will endure. Change is always frightening but seldom bad, and only fatal on rare occasions. Keep the stories coming and I’ll keep adding the new thicker volumes to my collection. The thicker spines will add lots of big blocks of color. Aren’t we due for a deep blue or green book spine? Lots of light hues lately! :) Keep up the great work.

  18. Geoffrey A. Landis on January 31st, 2009

    I’m usually six or eight months behind in my reading anyway, so going to bimonthly with 1.8 times as much content per issue will mostly mean that I’ll have half as many copies of twice as thick issues lying around the house…

  19. Roger C Haslock on February 1st, 2009

    I haven’t read F&SF for many years, but the 2008 covers are instantly recognizable. Early this century I had to leave England, and sell my collection of SF books and magazines dating back (some of them) to 1945 – something like 3000 items, because I could not afford to ship them. Many items did not sell, and I offered them to charity shops. They did not want them, and I had to send them to the tip! Shameful!

    We are now in the global collapse forecast by some writers, and I am glad to see some of the old publishers still going. I hope they will survive.

    – Roger –

  20. Paul S. on February 2nd, 2009

    It is sad to be forced by the economy to be forced to do cut back, but I am glad you are staying in business. I don’t subscribe because my mailman mangles the binding on all my magazines. I do buy it at retail at the big box book stores. I just hope they don’t stop carrying it.

  21. Tom Ritchford on February 2nd, 2009

    Good move! I hope it works out for us – I’ve been a subscribe for the last 30 years (with only a few hiatuses)…

  22. Steven Rowell on February 2nd, 2009

    While I have always enjoyed getting your magazine every month, I understand the need to cut back on postage. I’ll just have to get used to looking for it every two months.

    I do have one request. If content gets removed, please don’t take out “Books to Look for.” That column has introduced me to many new books that I never would have found otherwise. I guess I just have similar tastes to Charles De Lint.

    In any case, I just extended my subscription by two years (even though I still have a year left on my last two year subscription). Hope it helps.


  23. Doug Mink on February 3rd, 2009

    I’ve been subscribing to F&SF for 40 years now, since high school, and I’m glad you’re doing everything you can to keep it going. I for one love the film reviews–it’s amazing how timely they are with the long lead time the magazine has–and book reviews as much as the stories. And the science fact articles, too: Isaac Asimov’s articles in F&SF helped lead me into a career in astronomy.

  24. Geo on February 3rd, 2009

    Wait a minute. Am I missing something here? “Bimonthly” mean twice a month, not every 2 months. This is very confusing.

  25. SHamm on February 7th, 2009

    “Bimonthy” means every other month. “Semi-monthly” means twice a month.

  26. Geo on February 7th, 2009

    Weird. When I was in school, bimonthly meant twice a month. I get paid bimonthly. Anyway, as for the size of the new magazines – how many stories will you be publishing in each magazine as per perviously?

  27. shoebooty on February 10th, 2009

    Geo If you get paid every 2 week then thats bi-weakly. every 2 month is bi-monthly.

  28. shoebooty on February 10th, 2009

    Regardless I rather have (S& SF) bi-monthly then no (S& SF) monthly at all !!! i’m sure every one that subscribed WILL AGREE and feels the same way. In this trouble some economy that we have going on right now the only smart way to survive and keep your head above the rough water is to do what you have to do to stay afloat and if that means cutting back and making adjustments then so be it. so Gordon for you and your fine staff keep up the good work and i will be looking forwards to reading all the fine issues still to come for the next 60 years!!!

  29. Frances Grimble on February 12th, 2009

    I’ve subscribed to _Fantasy and Science Fiction_ for decades. I also subscribe to _Asimov’s_, _Realms of Fantasy_, and the British magazine _PostScripts_. I want each and every one of these magazines to publish forever and to keep offering their publications in print format (not e-format which I’d just print out and put into a three-ring binder). Unfortunately I think the future of magazine and newspaper publishing is to move away from the advertising-supported model. The Internet offers so very many opportunities for advertising that it is spread very thin, so thin that many publications are unable to support themselves any more by selling ads. I live in San Francisco, and our major daily newspaper has gotten so thin it’s pathetic, even though they also have a website and sell ads there. I think that eventually, many periodicalas are going to have to start charging subscribers what the periodical is really worth and forget about supporting themselves by selling ads. _PostScripts_, for example, is going to hardcover and calling themselves an anthology of original stories–which is, actually, what _F & SF_, _Asimov’s_, and _Realms of Fantasy_ are also. And I will continue subscribing and hang the expense. If _F & SF_ charges more I will do the same thing. Magazines are where I find different writers whose other works interest me, and I also love the book reviews. I hope you don’t cut the book reviews.

    Frances Grimble

  30. Mary Loomer Oliver on February 14th, 2009

    I have a tendency to read mine in clumps, so twice as much half as often works fine for me 8-) I’ve been a subscriber since, if I remember correctly, somewhere in the 60’s. You’ll find me hard to discourage.

  31. John Carl on February 19th, 2009

    Is the “Curiosities” column being discontinued entirely?

  32. Gordon Van Gelder on February 19th, 2009

    The “Curioisities” columns will continue to occupy the last page of each issue.


  33. Jonathan Laden on February 22nd, 2009

    I feel this is the right move for F and SF.

    The format will help on the newsstand and the decreased frequency will help with postage costs, but it may be hard to tell that it did because we’re all swimming upstream against a ferocious economy.

    (The USPS is in a bit of a death spiral, raising rates to break even, then getting less volume because it has raised rates, so raising the rates ever more. The paper companies have gone nuts, etc.)

    I admire you for the fight you continue to wage.

  34. graham riley on February 23rd, 2009

    Dear Gordon,

    I first bought FSF in December 1951, and with a short break have been reader ever since.As a subscriber since about 1990, I also like the more substantial feel of the bigger issues. Anyway, I can at least look forward to your magazine in the future!

    Two questions:
    How will you mark the anniversery issues as something special?

    As I look at the shelf after shelf of back issues I wonder whether some of this
    wealth of SF history couldn’t be exploited by publishing a reprint three times a

    Looking forward to future issues.

  35. Geo on March 1st, 2009

    After careful deliberation, I’m stoked about the larger issues every two months. If you think about it, this will leave editors more times to read stories and choose the best to print, and add more to each issue. Statistically, this should give me a better chance to get published in FSF.

  36. Ray Steele on March 7th, 2009

    The switch to bi-monthly is better than no F&SF. But I’m worried the higher price will hurt news stand sales?

    I have been thinking (and I know it’s too late now) that the magazine should be published monthly (I like the covers!) but send 2 out to each subscriber at a time, i.e. the Jan and Feb issues would be sent out in one envelope. I think that may be a good way to go for other magazines, too.

  37. Allen Smith on March 21st, 2009

    I occasionally will buy F & SF, the main problem is that it isn’t carried by the majority of the bookstores I frequent. So, I’m subscribing. Going to bi-monthly with larger issues doesn’t bother me at all. What’s the next featured author issue, do you still do those?

  38. Gordon Van Gelder on March 23rd, 2009

    We still do single-author issues but we don’t have one scheduled right now. The April/May 2009 issue turned out to be a bit of a tribute to Tom Disch, but that wasn’t even planned.

  39. Bruce Day on March 25th, 2009

    As a binge reader the switch to every other month bothers me not at all. Were it not for a 2 month forced vacation it would have gone unnoticed till mid summer. But I have not missed an issue since 1960 and am pleased you are still around and doing a good job. In fact, the regular appearance of F&SF has been the most constant aspect of my long and varied existence.

    Maybe more suited for another thread but I was particularly saddened to learn of Thomas Disch. His death, not so much, as I am getting used to that, but that his last years were not so happy. One of my fondest memories is of reading “The Brave Little Toaster” to my two children by the the light of a lamp while on a camping trip.


  40. Bryan on May 12th, 2009

    I’m disappointed in that I have to wait just that much longer to get my F&SF! :(

    I do understand that rising costs have forced a change, and I would rather read F&SF bi-monthly than not at all.

    I do have a request – **STOP doing classic reprints**! I have been reading F&SF since 1980 (ah shoot, I’m old) thanks to my dad getting me hooked. Needless to say, if you’re going to reprint something, unless it is 30+ years old I’ve likely already read it. I can (and do) go back and read my old F&SFs from time-to-time, so this is nothing new.

    I’d much rather see the classic reprints offered in e-Book or PDF from your website. You could either approach this the way Baen Books does and consider it a promotion to hook more readers, which would obviously help you and also us readers (more readers = better content = continued F&SF!)

    Thanks and keep on printing!

  41. Bryan on May 12th, 2009

    BOO – you guys need to add a “preview message” button to this thing! C’mon, this is SOOO 1995.

    All my spelling and grammatical errors above are simply due to human imperfection.

    And the lack of a preview function.

  42. Bayrak on August 19th, 2009

    I occasionally will buy F & SF, the main problem is that it isn’t carried by the majority of the bookstores I frequent. So, I’m subscribing. Going to bi-monthly with larger issues doesn’t bother me at all. What’s the next featured author issue, do you still do those?

  43. Jeff Kempin on August 21st, 2009

    I’ve just come back to the F&SF fold after being away for 7-8 years. I’d originally started reading the mag back in the late 80’s and collected up a several year run before taking a break. Then in the late 90’s I came back to it for a few more years before dropping it again. I’d always had too many unread issues piling up and I never got caught up. Regrettably, I donated my whole collection (maybe 50-60 issues total) to a local book drive and I wish I had them all back now.
    Now that F&SF is bi-monthly I have started up the subscription again. I should be able to stay current with the book, although I am fighting the urge to order up a couple years worth of back issues and I look forward to reigniting my interest in SF.
    Even though I’m taking a chance with my mailman delivering the issues in decent condition by restarting the sub, that is my only choice apparently as none of the bookstores around me carry F&SF which is very frustrating. I’ve been to 3 different Borders and came up empty.

  44. Jeff Shadow on December 1st, 2009

    I just found this “blog” today-now I know what a blog is (I thought it was the sequel to 1958’s The Blob!). I drove to five Borders stores recently. They have cut back tremendously on magazine selection and on the number of copies that they do carry. So many customers just sit and read magazines with no intention of buying. Even though I have been out of work since September 2008 I still manage to buy each issue of F&SF. One store still has the September 2009 IASFM and no newer issues. When you locate F&SF there are often only three copies (or less).
    I lost over one hundred F&SF issues to termites (copies from 1975 to 1987) and am slowly replacing them with the help of eBay. Those critters came right up through the concrete and turned a box of books into a black heap of pulp and dust!
    Well, at least they had excellent taste!

  45. David L. Elliott on January 6th, 2010

    Best wishes to all the F&SF staff for the new year!

  46. nano on January 29th, 2010

    Best wishes to all the F&SF staff for the new year!

  47. Ivan Stoikov - Allan Bard on March 25th, 2010

    Hello, my name is Ivan Stoikov, aka Allan Bard, A writer whose 1st book, Tale Of The Rock Pieces, has been published recently in English. I’m Bulgarian, I saw the site for your great magazine and couldn’t refrain from sending this. In the past we had simlar magazine in Bulgaria too, but not so good as yours.. let me know please can i order and receive an e-version of the magazine? I guess this way it will be better to order it from here, Bulgaria i mean?
    Do you publish parts of stories, novels in the magazine? If yes, what should a writer do to achieve that?
    Best wishes to all the crew and fans!
    Ivan Stoikov – Allan Bard

  48. Jackson the Termite Inspector on January 12th, 2011

    Termites eat anything that is made from timber. Magazines are perfect when stacked away out of sight.

  49. Joe Island on June 5th, 2011

    I usually subscribe, but quite often forget to renew my subscription for a couple months (it’s easy to put off until it’s too late). During that time I buy from the local Barnes & Noble – they do carry a few copies, along with the other SF magazines (I do the same with them) and a few other genre literary magazines (mystery, etc.). One concern I have with the limited non-subscription availability is that it becomes more difficult for new readers to find the magazines.

  50. Gordon Van Gelder on June 9th, 2011

    Joe Island, the reduced distribution of magazines has been an issue since at least the mid-1990s (which is when the magazine and paperback distributors went through a major consolidation). We’ve been working for years to increase our distribution but it often feels a lot like rolling a big boulder up a hill.

    —Gordon V.G.

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