Way back in January 2009, F&SF edition Gordon Van Gelder announced that his magazine would be switching to bimonthly publication. Instead of 11 issues a year, including a special double-sized issue every October, F&SF would publish six double issues a year, in an attempt to reduce mailing costs and other overhead. At the time there were ominous rumblings and dire prophecies, but it seems to have worked out nicely for the magazine, which has been been publishing regularly every since.
Since then I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop — meaning, when would the two remaining print SF magazines, Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction, follow suit? And on Wednesday Locus Online broke the news that both magazines would be switching to bimonthly publication starting in January 2017.
Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams explains in a forthcoming editorial that the magazines will now publish “six 208-page double issues” per year, a 16-page increase over current double issues. She expects the change will allow her to publish more novellas and a higher percentage of original cover art. Despite the change in publication schedule, she says readers “will receive the same number of pages of fiction as in the past,” and subscribers will “receive the same number of issue months” they purchased. Publishing bimonthly will allow them “to hold the current subscription prices a bit longer.” Both periodicals are published by Dell Magazines.
Speaking as someone who enjoys the big double issues, I view this as a positive development — and anything that helps the magazines save costs is a good thing. The current double-issue size is 192 pages, so the increase to 208 pages is another welcome change. However, it is a rather historic milestone for the genre. As Jonathan Strahan puts it:
Moving to a point where we have no monthly print fiction magazines left seems like some sort of turning point, though I don’t know towards what.