The Internet Review of Science Fiction is an online periodical of reviews and commentary that's been around for a couple of years -- forever in Internet time. (grin) The current issue just out is: Vol IV, No. 4 (April/May 2007).
At the time I signed up, they were giving subscriptions away for free, and amazingly have continued that for some time. However, in their editorial this month it looks like things are about to change:
Last Chance For Free Subscriptions?
We've been requiring subscriptions since IROSF opened for readers; but they've always been free. That's gonna to change soon, so get your friends to sign up in the next 30 days or so!
People often shake their heads at our business model. No ads? No subscriptions? Paid authors? How does that work?
Ads, I'm glad to say, wouldn't work in any case. Although we have thousands of readers who peruse tens of thousands of articles every month, those numbers are actually far too low to generate real revenue. Why glad? Cause I don't like 'em. If I could make enough money to break even on ads alone, I would have to do so in order to ensure that everyone who might ever want to read one of our articles could do so without hassle. However, those numbers don't add up in any scenario, and we'll just have to find other ways to ensure everyone can have access to the information they need.
So: with the next issue, we will be rejiggering subscriptions along the following lines.
1. Academic: The reader may read two current and two archived articles per month, not including the editorial which will always be free. (Why make people pay for this?) There will be no charge for this kind of subscription, which is intended to make articles available to people with a one-time interest or academic specialty free of charge.
2. Basic: The reader may read all of the current issue and 10 archived articles per month.
3. Full: The reader has access to all of the current issue and all of the archived articles at all times.
4. Combined: The reader has a full subscription to IROSF and also a subscription to our sister publication, Æon Speculative Fiction.
These subscription options will be available in 1, 2, and 5 year increments. The actual dollar values are still to be determined.
In conjunction with this, there will be some new features, such as ebook formats for various readers and platforms.
So, what happens to your current subscription? Everyone who has subscribed to date will be grandfathered into full subscriptions lasting to the next anniversary date of their original sign-up. If said anniversary date is less than two months away, it will be given a two month extention.
That's almost as complicated as the Nebula rules, eh? Here's hoping it works!
But what if it doesn't?
Look: we're committed to making electronic publishing work. We don't mind losing a bit more money along the way. Our main goal is to get good stuff into the hands of readers. But we can't just throw money away forever.
If it turns out that people just aren't willing to pay for great content, then I guess it will die. If the content isn't actually all that great, then it deserves to die. But either way, we're not going to go down without a fight.
What if you want to donate more to keep it going?
There is absolutely a role for benefactors in this business. We will make it possible for benefactors who believe this is a worthwhile endeavor to donate additional funds to help keep things afloat. While we are still in startup mode, which means volunteer editorships and a money-losing bottom line, said donations will go entirely to keeping the enterprise afloat. There will be a few perks for benefactors.
Once the business becomes profitable, which will include paying editors for their valuable work ensuring the best possible content, donations will be used to fund subscriptions for those in need or new projects said benefactors might wish to see brought to fruition.
What about investors?
We're not aiming for a non-profit status along the lines of Strange Horizons, so the prospect of investing is not entirely absurd. But we're just not set up for it at this time.
Even as I put all this down in type, I realize how it may sound rather ridiculous, perhaps even— to be blunt— grandiose. To that I say: It is always better to dream big and fail than to aim for mediocrity.
Don't let their occasionally irregular publishing schedule dissuade you -- I find something of value in every issue. And even if I don't agree with their reviewers, the reviews themselves are comprehensive, well-considered and full of commentary -- and cover more books and magazines than I have time to read.
In This Issue
So far in the new issue I've run across an excellent Nader Elhefnawy review of Seeker by Jack McDevitt, the third of a series of books starting with one of my favorites, A Talent for War. (Boy, I thought I'd raved about that earlier on this blog, but apparently not -- I can't find it.) And Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold have an article on Anatomy of a Pitch Letter.
Anyway, I very much like IROSF, and for free maybe you will, too.
UPDATE: Jack McDevitt's Seeker recently won the 2007 Nebula for Best Novel.