By now you have probably noticed that we have changed our publication schedule to the last Monday of each month. The 21st is a very nice day on which to publish, but ultimately I decided that it is easier to work around a regular day-of-week schedule when trying to plan each issue. The other benefit is that this will be the October issue, online during most of October! Revolutionary! (Of course, if we followed the example of the print magazines, we'd be calling it the January issue or something. All the ink must make them crazy over there.)
That's not the only change in the works, though. The next biggie to arrive will be our long-announced (and once delayed) introduction of actual subscription fees. "What? Me pay for this?" you say. Well, we have been told that's what everyone will say right before they decide not to re-up their subscription. Everyone points to Strange Horizons as an example of how to break even on the web. Hold a fund-raiser, NPR style.
Thing is, I don't like fund raisers. I don't like them on NPR, and I like them even less on the web.
Perhaps I'm just an old fashioned capitalist, but I think that it is reasonable to ask people to pay for something that has value. Whether or not IROSF has value is debatable, of course, but that's a different issue. On the other hand, I also believe that on the web, information should be free. How to reconcile? Well, now I have a plan. Hear me out, and let me know what you think in our forums:
Beginning on or about December 1st of this year, IROSF will no longer offer free, one-year subscriptions. Those who have subscriptions will not have to pay anything until the subscription terminates. (If you're reading this, that means one year from when you signed up.) Instead we will offer five types of subscriptions!
- Trial Period Subscriptions: One time only, anyone who wants to see what IROSF is about can subscribe for two weeks. During that two week time period, the current issue and all archives will be available. As the clever among you will probably already have deduced, if you have easy access to unlimited email addresses, you may be able to keep creating new users and stringing them out indefinitely. We have a few ways to try to prevent this, but we may not bother. If you're willing to work that hard to bypass our other options, it's your karma, pal.
- Standard Annual Subscriptions: You like it? You buy it. Only $12 a year (the first year our goal is only to break even. That means the price could go DOWN if enough people are actually subscribers!)
- Supporting Annual Subscriptions: You really like it? You think it's super worthwhile, and you want to see us stick around? Yes, you may throw money at us. This is the fund raiser option: you can pay $24 or more, perhaps with several gradations, and you'll be eligible for special monthly prizes during the course of your subscription. Additionally, 2/3 of the amount above the basic $12 will go straight to our profit-sharing pool, which will go to contributing authors. See, you're not just supporting us, you're supporting the authors, editors, academics, and fans who have taken time to write for your edification and pleasure!
- One Article Right Now Subscriptions: You see an article you want to read? You need to reference? But you don't want to pay for the magazine, and you've already had a trial period? That's fine. You can read one article per month, either from the current issue or from the archives free of charge. And that's all.
- Fan Subscriptions: Readers familiar with the tradition of the fanzines may know that most fanzines are available for "the usual." The usual means: the reader must request the fanzine, and if he or she wants to continue receiving the ‘zine, a Letter of Comment (LoC) should be sent to the zine. An LoC can be praise, excoriation, or dialogue with some previous contribution. Fan Subscriptions at IROSF will be offered free of any monetary charge, upon receipt of one LoC, and will be good for four months. (You've had the free trial with which to get enough sense of IROSF to compose your LoC.) Here's the catch: although we are the Internet Review of Science Fiction, and although we do not accept print submissions, we will only accept LoC by snail mail. We may reproduce letters in whole or in part, reproducing the physical appearance of the letter or simply the text as we see fit.
Eventually, we also hope to introduce institutional subscriptions for libraries, museums, or other organizations, but as these will be IP based rather than username/login based, it's going to take some coding to work that up.
Now, we've been hinting at some other changes for far too long now. Once we get the subscriptions up and running, and some better tools for managing submissions, we plan to work very hard to bring you downloadable formats and perhaps some other, more dynamic features in the early part of next year. After that? Who knows. We'll see if anyone still likes us after all that!