The Fate of Short Fiction Online
Posted on August 21, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 7 Comments
Over at the Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine blog, F&SF editor/publisher Gordon Van Gelder comments and wants your feedback on short fiction published online. If you’ve got a moment, check it out and give him your thoughts.
i noticed i hadn’t seen an update to your blog in my rss feed for like, 6 weeks. apparently the feed be b0rked. I tried to resubscribe and it said:
ERROR: atom is not a valid feed template
I think if we all pull together we can defeat the scourge of free online short fiction.
melinda @ 1: I don’t use it, but I believe I saw someone say the correct feed is atom1 now – try adding the one and see if that helps.
Online fiction is ephemera until its published on paper.
Meaning I usually do not become aware of it until it gets published in say “The Year’s Best Science Fiction.”
In such a form it could be around for years if not decades in collections such as libraries.
About ten years for the average library depending on how much it is used.
I freely admit to being an ODT chauvanist.
(ODT = On Dead Tree)
Perhaps if I purchased a Kindle, I might be swayed.
But reading fiction on my computer screen… It’s just not the same. My brain wants a paperback, or a digest-sized magazine, in my hands when I go into someone else’s mental playground and take a tour.
Reading, even with a laptop, is a sit-at-the-desk kind of thing, and while I love to read news and politics and such on-line, when it comes to fiction, my brain goes back to demanding it be of the ODT variety.
Again, a Kindle could change my mind, if it lives up the hype. But as long as books and stories can come to me ODT then I will continue to enjoy them and collect them ODT.
I suppose I’m an odd duck. Like most folks I speak with, I prefer my fiction in dead tree format, BUT…
I prefer my periodicals in electronic format. Short fiction has always appeared more often in periodical format, which means I prefer it online.
Freebies online (and public libraries) are a great way of trying out authors whose work I haven’t read before. There have been a lot of cases where I have read a short story, excerpt, or entire novel for free that has encouraged me to spend money on the author’s back catalogue and future output.