Following her great post on the future of speculative fiction magazines and discussions with the editor of Clarkesworld, Erin Hoffman has created a wiki page to accumulate ideas about a new business model. This is a key time where if things are done right we can create an online medium that benefits writers, editors and readers, unlike the horrible DRM-filled Amazon Kindle model. Sooner or later a good method of reading ebooks is going to take off, whether it’s a Sony Reader, an Iphone or something new. Thinking about a new model now means speculative fiction will be in a position of power when that time comes.
I like the idea of tipjars on stories, or using a Radiohead-style pay what you like subscription model. Magazines available bimonthly for a $2 minimum with the option to give more, for example. Having discussions about stories with the author, tuckerisation and bonus stories are all ways of making the purchase more appealing but there are more options out there.
There will be a sweet spot of pricing that makes a short story or a magazine an impulse buy, much like a 99c mp3. Making the fiction freely available in multiple formats with no DRM is vital. A Last.fm style chart or a facebook ebook application where people could display and read their favourite stories might be a success – people love to show off to their peers what they’re into.
What would you want to see in an online fiction magazine? Join in the debate at the new wiki, or in the comments.