One more from me before I get back to my other writing. I got an email this morning from the people at this new mostly on-line literary magazine, and though we're reluctant to do publicity for people, it looks sort of interesting and has got me thinking about the future of literary magazines. So I'm going to go ahead and talk about it before I've even read it, as dubious a proposition as that is!
Most notable, to me, is the fact that they pay writers $1000 a story -- a pretty foolproof way to get big names attached to their mag, and first dibs at a lot of genuinely good stuff. How many magazines pay that much for stories? Maybe five.
Also notable are the J. Crew models licking frogs and swilling malt liquor on the website -- shorthand, I suppose, for We are not going to be publishing William Trevor any time soon. Also, We are trying extremely hard to look hip. The feel of the stories (you can get a preview on the site) seems a little strenuously outré, kind of like McSweeney's minus the cute, plus Bladerunner.
The magazine is available in every format you can think of except, it seems, audiobook. And maybe I'm old, but I'm pretty typical of many readers of literary fiction, and I still haven't shifted over to reading fiction on line, or on a screen of any kind. Partly this is because I work at a bookstore and, like an Amish wheelwright, feel responsible for maintaining the Old Ways, and partly because nothing has pushed me in that direction. I get all the fiction I need in book and magazine form. I don't have a Kindle because I hate everything about them: the heavy marketing, the undercutting of bookstores, the high price, the fact that it's another screen, and the proprietary content -- you can't share your Kindle books with friends or get them out of the library. Screw dat! I could get books on my iPod but it's too small to stare at for long. Still. I feel like maybe I should start reading on-line fiction. It's the future...
You can get a print-on-demand hard copy of the magazine, too, and if one arrives at my bookstore, I'll definitely read it. Though I'm still trying to process that woman with the frog.
The big question: how can Electric Literature afford to pay $5000 for content every issue??? Plus more to pay the guy who has to read all those jillions of submissions they're going to get, keep the office lights on, bandwidth, or whatever. It seems crazy, but time will tell. Maybe big pay for writers combined with an aggressively unstuffy look is a winning formula.
Also interesting: there doesn't seem to be a way to subscribe to the thing. I wonder why not? [on edit: apparentely subscriptions are coming soon, along with the iPhone application.]