Monday, April 5, 2010

What Baen Universe Death Means for Internet Publishing

Not so great news: Jim Baen's Universe internet Sci-Fi magazine just published its last issue. Magazine is going out of business. One more internet failure.

But why? Can we assume that internet publishing doesn't work? Not so fast. Here is an article by Mike Resnik, editor-in-chief. In short, subscription based model of Baen Universe was beaten by advertisement based model of a dozen plus Sci-Fi magazines.

It's amazing. The model which shouldn't work, in opinion of all major publishers, like Rupert Murdoch etc., managed to beat the model which should. Instead of paying money for the stuff, people chose to get it for free. Surprise!

I don't know if this story can tell us something about other periodicals. Newspapers are in completely different world. News and entertainment magazines are very different from literary ones. But, at least in one area, free information model managed to beat subscription model.

I regret demise of Baen's Universe. I was a subscriber from the day one. But now I have a choice of multiple free high quality Sci-Fi internet magazines and learned something about internet publishing business.

This story doesn't affect any investment decisions. Not right now. But it might tell us something about future developments in internet publishing. It's possible that free model will coexist with subscription or paid model. But there is also a possibility that free will kill subscription. We'll see. So far I'm staying away from any company related to publishing, especially periodicals.

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