SF Magazine Publishing Will Be All About NichesS

With so many science-fiction magazines going under, it's a relief that John Joseph Adams and Prime Books are launching Lightspeed. But it's not enough just to fill your need for SF stories: Adams says Lightspeed will find its own niche.

Over at Borders' blog Babel Clash, Adams explains exactly how Lightspeed will differ from existing SF magazines. For one thing it'll publish only SF, no fantasy. But unlike other SF-only venues, it'll publish all SF, not just near-future stories. Another difference: Lightspeed will publish a 50-50 mix of reprints and original stories, because Adams figures its target audience is general readers, who haven't already read everything out there. Adds Adams:

[S]ince we're targeting new or casual readers of short fiction or science fiction in general, part of the reason for mixing the reprints and originals is to show them where science fiction comes from, where it is now, and where it's going.

And finally, the magazine's fiction and non-fiction will go together, so if there's a short story about robots, there'll be an article about famous robots from SF, or comparing Optimus Prime to Mechagodzilla.

Meanwhile, Lightspeed will also have its own unique revenue model, including advertising but also a monthly ebook edition that you can subscribe to. The ebook edition will have the following month's content all at once, so there's no waiting for the site to update twice a week. Adds Adams:

Other than that, we'll be experimenting with and exploring the possibilities of various new media like iPhone apps, and podcasts (which may not be a money-making venture, but can help us broaden our reach). Although there will be no print edition of Lightspeed, we will not be ignoring traditional media altogether; once a year we'll be publishing a Lightspeed anthology, which will collect all of the fiction that appeared in the magazine over the course of a calendar year.

With print magazines continuing to struggle and webzines having a hard time breaking out of the pack, here's hoping a more defined focus and some new revenue models will help magazine-publishing in general. Here's hoping.