Digital Lit Journal Has Arrived

As Australia grapples with the future of lit journals online, a recent Guardian blog post says there has been “a renaissance rooted in technology” for the UK’s little magazines.

Interestingly, they’re not looking to existing print journals as the future. The London Review of Books is “currently £27m in the red” with an aging readership. “In fact, mention the LRB to anyone under 50 and you’re liable to send them into a deep coma.”

They see newer players like Hamish Hamilton’s Five Dials, whose editor Craig Taylor sees established literary magazines as losing touch with their audiences. Taylor says “Some literary magazines have grown precious to the point where the humour and liveliness has long since evaporated.” Founder of Pop Cult, Keegan Wilson agrees “The Paris Review and Ambit can be a little daunting and serious. I wanted Pop Cult to be fun, through contemporary and humorous stories.”

The obvious advantages of a web-based journal are that they are more affordable to print, distribute and market. Five Dials “has grown from 1,000 to 10,000 subscribers” by using Facebook, Twitter and other social networking to find readers.

The post also points to Shortlist Press who publish only short stories. Their publishing philosophy is simple: “you can read a short story in the time it takes to get to work, or while waiting for a friend in a bar, or in any of those spare moments you have during the day when you would normally consume the sugary fluff of the internet”. They use iTunes to distribute their product for just under UK£1.

The article concludes triumphantly “The literary magazine has come full circle. What didn’t kill them has made them stronger.”

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