Some funny things about this particular prozine closure. I mean, obviously I'm watching the state of the publishing world, and sf/f, with more than idle interest. I want to be able to draw some conclusions, figure out what I think is going on and then make any changes within Twelfth Planet Press that may be needed.
The thing about RoF is ... well ... it was near on impossible to find in Australia. It's hard to read all those posts yesterday about the closure of this market and wonder how many had actually read a single copy of it or bought one. I actually really loved this one and spent a whole year chasing copies down across newsagents in Perth. I loved it though for the look of it. The fiction inside I didn't think was aimed at me. And when we discussed it at Last Short Story, there wasn't really any one of us readers who loved this market for the work it published. Personally, I think Fantasy Magazine outcompeted it, both in terms of quality and consistency of fantasy fiction published. There are also many aspects of Fantasy Magazine that appeal to the 21st Century reader that I think maybe RoF didn't - I don't download the podcasts but I like that they are there. I kind of like the publishing of one piece of fiction every Monday - it's a good way to ration out a monthly magazine to a busy reader. And Fantasy is as shiny and glossy as RoF, to me, it's just online.
The issue I can never get past with RoF was the way I was treated in terms of the subscription fiasco. And blogging it at the time, I discovered many others, in Australia at least, who shared the same experience. The ... trial issue fiasco ... I like to call it. Sign up online to receive one trial issue of the magazine. To the subscription department this apparently meant that you had committed to buy the magazine and you were a total bastard when you didn't immediately send them your money. I got 3 maybe 4 harrassing letters from the magazine with absolutely no contact details for me to able to discuss it or ask them to please stop. It was the point at which I believe they threatened me with debt collectors that I actually called the US phone number to sort it out, got the voice mail but was unable to leave a message as it was full. Probably cost me $10 to make that call. There were never any contact emails or any way to contact anyone within the magazine on their website.
It was after that that I swore I would never spend another dime (it was American money after all) on that magazine. If other people had similar experiences ... I can see where part of the problems came from.
But the fact is, regardless of all of this, times are incredibly tough right now. We don't know how much tougher they are going to get and publishers are tightening their belts and carving off what they can. It's too soon to offer real commentary on this period of time, since we're still smack bang in the middle of it. But for what it's worth, my thoughts are that we have just passed out the other side of one of the most decadent and prosperous times in our history. Things are easy in times like those and businesses can get away with a lot of loose business models but eventually, what goes up must come down. And I think we are going through a time when bad business models that have no buffer to weather out the bad times are going to fold.
Is it a bad thing? It's sad to know that we can no longer prop everything up but ... that's evolution, isn't it?