Fanzines and the Internet or "Whither Thou Goest, Orion Press?"

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Open Letter
Title: Fanzines and the Internet or "Whither Thou Goest, Orion Press?"
From: Randy Landers
Addressed To: fans on alt.startrek.creative
Date(s): October 20, 1998
Medium: online
Fandom: Star Trek
Topic: Star Trek, Zines, Fandom and Profit, Zine Production
External Links: page 1/reference link, includes comments

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Fanzines and the Internet or "Whither Thou Goest, Orion Press? is an open letter written by Randy Landers, publisher of Orion Press about the decline of print fanzines. It was posted to alt.startrek.creative on October 20, 1998 and generated much discussion in the Star Trek fan community.

The original post on alt.startrek.creative had 225 posts by 44 authors.

It is an excellent example of the pros and cons of printfic vs netfic discussions of the late 1990s and how the decline of fanzines was perceived among the fan community.

In May 1999, this topic was widely discussed again in the same venue. See fanfiction: web or zine?.

Excerpts

All excerpts are from: Fanzines and the Internet or "Whither Thou Goest, Orion Press?" post to alt.startrek.creative by Randy Landers dated October 21, 1998.[1]

"I've been soul-searching regarding my involvement with ORION PRESS lately. It seems that the Internet is absolutely destroying the need for quality fanzines such as ours, and after two days in Orlando in March of hearing fans say "Why should I pay you for your zines when I can download it from the Internet for free?," I've decided that I have no desire to attend another Star Trek convention."
"However, the convention attendees at the last VulKon (who were snide in their derision toward the notion of "paying for zines") have made it quite clear than the very fanzines which got me involved in Star Trek fandom in the first place are likely to be headed the way of the dinosaur, the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon: extinction.
"The number of written submissions have fallen, too, for ANTARES and ERIDANI. Without submissions, we cannot do a zine. In the past three years, we've already seen the cancellation of ORION, TANTALUS, INTERLUDES and INVOLUTION. ERIDANI will be next at this rate. In the past, when contributors left, new contributors were always coming in to replace them. With the ease of posting material to the Internet, the new contributors are NOT materializing, and, bless 'em, the older ones (myself included) have moved on to other fandoms, or have had (as in my case) real life intrude deeply into their free time, or simply have lost interest in Trek altogether (thanks, in general, to various bunglings by The Powers That Be)."
"And letters of comment? What's that? NO ONE WRITES LOCS ANYMORE. The only reason folks write is to tell a story, which in essence, means they want to get feedback for their work. Guess what? Very few folks are even telling us 'good job, keep it up.' Instead, we get "Why was there no ERIDANI this time?" and "How dare you cancel INVOLUTION! I won't order again!" and "So & So says you suck, and I believe EVERY word s/he says" and "Geez! You're zines are TOO EXPENSIVE! How much money are you making off them?!!!""
"Will I continue to do fanzines? Yes, for a time, as long as there are enough readers to make it practical for me to do so. I love zines, and I love writing them, editing them, trying to illustrate them and publishing them. There's nothing like the joy I get in sitting down in the bathtub or on the sofa with a glass of chocolate milk and with one of our new releases, such as IDYLLS 18, OUTPOST 9 and CHEKOV'S ENTERPRISE, and reading it from cover to cover. It's a satisfaction that I have had a part in creating something lasting, even though it's "just a zine.""
"Sales this year, though, have been horrible, and we're having our worst year since leaving the vast Bill Hupe Publishing Empire. All sales are down across the board, and, as such, I will be forced to raise prices in January to compensate for the lack of sales, which may lead to even fewer sales. It's a self-destructive trend, but it's one I cannot avoid unless sales pick up dramatically. I have never been into fanzines for the money, lord knows, there ain't any to be made there. But as the head of a household and father of three, I cannot afford to lose the kind of money we've lost to date this year."
"I'm also bothered by the fact that our Internet site is extremely popular, but few of these readers are actually buying even an occasional zine. Given the expenses of maintaining the site (and keeping it advertisement free), unless sales pick up (and donations, too), the website will be going as well."
"I'm not trying to be so down, my friends, but this is just how I see it. I thought I'd give you some advance warning, and see if any of you might have some ideas, some suggestion as to how we could continue."
"And I'm a firm believer in venting steam, folks, and this has been about six months in coming. The debate with John Ordover in the Internet newsgroup alt.startrek.creative actually helped INVIGORATE me over the summer, and I thought I'd've shaken it off by now, but I haven't and I'm worried, and I'd actually like to hear from you..."

Reactions and Reviews

Perhaps because the author of the original post characterized his thoughts as venting, much of the feedback took issue with his position, feeling that print fanzines needed to adapt or die. Others questioned the basic premise behind fanzines. From Michael Roy Hollihan:
"The Internet is changing everything. Get used to it. How many hundred people do you figure used to read the fanzines of the 70's? How many thousands are reading ASC, and the various web sites and archives? And it is true--why should I pay you when I can get it from the author cheaper? Admittedly, I like the feel of a book or 'zine, but I have the devil's time getting hold of 'em sometimes. I can always print out the story I want to read. The business person who profits from connecting the author and reader is less important than ever before.

Again, the Internet and computers are changing everything. Information is becoming freer and more available than ever before. The means of distribution are so much cheaper and more accessible then ever. It's tougher than ever to convince people to pay, when digitally precise copies are usually free for the taking. Big corporations are having major problems protecting their investments in the face of this....

As for change, well again--deal with it. Do you remember mimeo? The delicious smell and feel of it? The wonderful purple ink, and how there were always typos that got past you, no matter how careful you were? And the hand-drawn-right-on-the-page artwork? Copiers and DTP [desktop publishing] killed that forever. Personally, I prefer them to mimeo, but the memories remain.... Do I want to bring it back and make it work? No, not really. I mourned its passing and enjoy what replaced it. And the writing still keeps coming....

Your love of good stories and the desire to share them with a community of people is what's most important. You just need to find a new way to pursue it. Let go of old assumptions and really *see* what's going on around you. Look at the tools you now have and develop new skills.

Welcome to the brave new world, same as the old one--just different."[2]
From Gabrielle Lawson:
"And why submit to a fanzine? I did once because someone asked me personally. Someone I consider an e-friend. But the result was disappointing. A first draft was used rather than the edited copy I sent them. The scenes weren't divided. My work was not displayed in its best form. I've gotten feedback from the editors, my two test readers and perhaps three other people since the zine was put out late last month. And I can't put it on my web site or post it to asc for a year (two years if it was Orion, right?). I could get more feedback on the net. Definitely, and I'd know what quality it was posted with because I'd be responsible for it.....How much easier is it to send an e-mail saying "I loved your story." A good story will get more than that. To date, I've received feedback via e-mail or web page from 43 people since I posted "Oswiecim" in September (or was it August.) I have gotten feedback from three people in the mail, and three people in person (my siblings). More on the net. Same with "If It's Not One Thing"....[3]
Other fans came out in support of print fanzines. From MAC:
"Much as I like getting free fanfic, NOTHING beats laying back after a really tough day and reading a good fanzine in bed. I'll NEVER give up such pleasure. Print zines are so much better than the crap that the pros keep throwing at us. I've become totally commited to buying mostly print zines now.

The one problem I have IS the feedback. It's easier to feedback by e-mail, so maybe if and e-mail addy was printed with each story the authors would get more.

Randy it's mainly because of you that I've bothered to continue continue my fanfic interest. I think ORION does it right in all areas and the prices ARE NOT too high."[4]
Sight impaired readers weighed in: From marta rodriguez:
"I was wondering how feasible it would be for the Trek zine editors to make these materials available on line for a fee, of course. I'd love to read the stories that appear on the Trek zines, but they are in print, and well, the mechanics of converting them to braille or some sort of speech output can be a little bit more complicated without a scanner. Ever since I got hooked on Trek I've read of the wonderful stories created by the fans in these zines, especially during those pre TNG years, when Paramount was dragging its feet on committing to any Trek projects. It would be a shame if those wonderful creations were lost to us all on account of the Net. After all, this medium is supposed to provide more access to information and/or entertainment, and a broader market for those who provide it. I see no reason why fanfic avenues like the web sites or the newsgroups can't coexist with the zines in a manner that is profitable for both. I certainly would be willing to buy subscriptions for those zines were they available online." [5]
Others focused on the ease of Internet fiction and the relative equal quality between Netfic and Printfic meant that the "free" NetFic made it more appealing. From A. LANGSDORF:
"As someone whose first exposure to fanfiction was through the Internet, I'm a little surprised that you sound so negative about it.

I have bought fanzines (many of them, but no Star Trek zines) and while some of them are WELL worth the money, several of them were disappointing in that while the story was nicely proofread and displayed, it was also very flat (poor characterization or plot or both).

I have no problem giving LoC, but it is MUCH easier to send feedback to an author via e-mail. No zine I know of has a direct-to-author address, while anything posted on USENET will have the posters e-mail address attached. If I don't know WHERE to send a letter to, I can't.

And printzines ARE expensive, especially with the cost of paper continuing to rise. Why should a pay $15 to $20 dollars for a zine with only has one author (or show if it's a multimedia zine) I like and in which the artwork is either poor or distracting (I tend to be very picky about artwork) .

And while they are plenty of bad writers out here, I am not PAYING to see their bad writing. I can skip a incoherent story and never miss it on the internet, but if I have a printzine with a bad story in it, I feel like I am missing 1/6 (or whatever fraction it is) of what I paid for."[6]
An Australian editor wondered whether the decline in zines was impacting fanfiction zines more than newsletters. From Jon Andersen:
I edit a zine myself - Dark Circus - which is a Dr Who essay zine, and it occasionally puts out a fiction issue for stories longer than the regular issues can contain. I've found that fiction zines, at least in Australia, tend to be less popular than 'regular' zines as a general rule. This is just an observation mind you - perhaps there's something missing that people want and you don't offer?"[7]

Another fan pointed out that one of the problems was that fanzine publishers like Randy were not advertising in the right places or educating fans about fanzines:

From kira-nerys:
"I am absolutely new to the fanfiction scene. I have been on the internet for a couple of years, but never knew this world existed until a few weeks ago. I just recently ordered my first fanzine (outpost 9) from Orion. So I have no idea what these fanzines entail. But what I have to say is that perhaps it would be wise to "advertise" a little more. I mean I've been on the net for quite some time but I never knew about Fanfiction. It was a completely unknown concept to me."[8]

and

"Perhaps you should try mailinglists? Even mailinglists that aren't specifically american or english. I think those are the first things that fans come in contact with when they start browsing the net. I've been on several for a long time. But never, ever have we discussed fanfiction on these Star Trek lists. I don't know why. One thing may be the fact that a lot of us reamin ignorant that there is such a thing and that there is a lot of really *GOOD* fanfic too. Both on the internet and in fanzines. Also, of course, having sites link to yours might be a good idea, but from what I've seen you advice people NOT to link to your site - why? I was going to link to ORION but found some note saying you didn't want people to do that. Isn't that working against yourself?"[9]
Randy responded to some of the comments above:
[On the topic of providing email contacts for more Locs]:"Most folks who don't provide their addresses want to protect their privacy. Our website has HTML tags that allow some authors to be contacted directly. Guess what? Most have never heard from 99% of the folks who've read their stories."

[On the relative cost of print zines vs Internet fic]:"Actually, you are_ paying... through your Internet fees. And in case you haven't noticed, the phone companies are adding a new Federal surcharge on Internet usage on your phone bill.[10]One month's bill for unlimited access can be, say $19.95. That's more than the price of a zine. And you may get more fiction, but you might find that the number of quality stories you find on line may be less than the number of stories in a given fanzine."

[On the increased costs of printed zines]:"Well, we don't lose money on printing novellas, which is what Oswiecim would be classified as. You're not having to take into consideration that every single contributor to an anthology zine gets a copy of that zine for free. Any given zine probably has 12-15 contributors, and you have to mark up the zine (and make an assumption about how many you'll sell) accordingly."

[On charging fees for netfic and sight impaired readers]:"Actually, any fee-based Trek site would be highly illegal and shut down within hours, I suspect. And we've always had zines available on disk for [sight impaired readers]."

[On the prohibition against linking to his site and how it might impact advertising: "I'd forgotten that was on there. At our previous ISP, we were being charged for excessive bandwidth. At Mindspring, we haven't reached that point yet. I'll delete those [restrictions]."[11] followed by a week later: "There have been over 2100 visitors to our TNG site alone, with over 370MB of bandwidth. Unfortunately, we just can't afford to keep them up without folks purchasing the zines. I am presently considering shutting down our TNG, DS9 and VOY sites completely."[12] The website went offline that evening. [13]
Eventually other fanzine publishers began to weigh in. From Laura Taylor:
"Several respondents have said they don't like 'zines because they tend to produce a certain type of story, or not all stories are up to the readers' standards, or so on and so forth. To both of these, I can only say: I include what writers submit. Outpost 9 is heavy on humor and action/adventure. Not because *I* shaped it that way; those were the types of stories people contributed. Outpost 10 will be deliberately all-romance, because I want to achieve some sort of balance from issue to issue....

Outpost 9 was my first experience editing a 'zine, and I was surprised at how fragmented and divisive DS9 fandom is, even though I'm a guilty party in that divisiveness. It's damn near impossible to produce a DS9 genzine that will please a significant portion, much less a majority, of DS9 fans. After the headaches of putting together Outpost 9, I'm not going to even try. As I said, it's the contributions that shape the 'zine: I just try to get the stories into good shape and put everything together into a neat, attractive package.

If you think there needs to be more Odo/Kira stories, write them and send them in! If you like introspective Sisko vignettes, ditto! 'Zines work the same way as ASC: if you want it, you write it. Think the quality of stories is subpar? Then write the best damn story you can! But bear in mind that tastes vary widely. I, personally, want to gag every time I read an Odo/Kira romance, but I imagine I have the same effect on many people with my Dukat stories. I happen to like action/adventure stories, but there are people who read only hurt/comfort.....But my goal was not to include only stories I *liked* - of the submissions I received, only one didn't make it in, and that was because the author objected quite forcefully to my effrontery in suggesting that, although his story was good, his writing style needed work. He withdrew his submission - after saying a few things to me that would singe your eyebrows - in protest against my editing comments. Nevertheless, I thought his story was good as a story, as I think all stories are fundamentally good. The storytellers, though...<G>

No anthology 'zine is going to appeal to everybody. The best they can hope to do is appeal to as wide an audience as possible. That's the nature of an anthology. Of all the stories in Strange New Worlds, I only liked one or two. I have about a dozen anthologies in my personal library that I own only because they contain an obscure Faulkner or O'Connor story that I couldn't find elsewhere. The rest I just ignore.

As I suggested to Randy outside of ASC, the solution may be to move away from the anthology. Yet even there problems remain. With a focused 'zine, you're appealing to a very specific segment of fandom, which means sales will drop. Then, of course, there's the ever-present problem with submissions. I have until the end of April to get enough DS9 romance stories to comprise a full-lenth 'zine. If I don't get enough, I'll have to postpone publication, or repackage it back into the tried-and-true anthology format. It's almost a no-win situation no matter what happens."[14]
Other fans were more interested in discussing the decline in LOCs. From pens nest:
"On further reflection, I think that perhaps people don't write LoCs as they used to because of the changes in the culture. I probably haven't been involved for long enough to judge, but my impression is that zine fandom used to be a closer-knit community than it is now. Readers regarded the zines they bought as 'theirs' in a way that may no longer apply. Nowadays, with the greater choice brought about by (a) the internet and (b) far greater commercial concentration on extracting money from fans, sorry, that should be, opportunities to buy stuff, there isn't the feeling of community among fanfic readers that there used to be. However, it may also be that society in general, not just the fanfic community, is less inclined to give 'strokes' these days. A pity."[15]
and also from pens nest:
"There is, however, the horrid possibility that people aren't writing fulsome letters of praise because the zines they are reading are no longer satisfying them. We fans are mostly quite kind, and the polite among us don't send LoCs detailing our criticisms and disappointments. We write only when we can praise, and if we can't praise, we don't write."[16]
Some compared US zine buying habits with the buying habits of non-US fans. From Baerbel Haddrell:
"In Germany, fanzines sell very well. Also Gabi just wrote that the Star Trek Forum stand was a big success again at a recent convention in Germany. They sold about DM 2000 worth of fanzines! Each month, the Forum offers new releases. They are usually of very high quality and I love reading them.

I wonder why the situation is so different in the USA. That you can download lots of fanfiction for free is certainly a factor. With the age of the internet also memberships in Star Trek clubs were going down because people can get news directly from the Internet. But at least in Germany clubs are still thriving. Yes, they have lower membership numbers nowadays, also the Star Trek Forum, but they are now quite stable and still high enough to make running such clubs worthwhile.

I was expecting something similar with US fanzines. There are of course much more English speaking fanfiction sites than German ones - although Germans who are on the net usually speak English as well. I am not surprised that the Internet reduced your sales but it shouldn`t be THIS bad![17]

I wonder, has it to do with some difference in mentality? Do Europeans enjoy reading books or fanzines more than Americans? My husband, who is English, and me, a German, we both have a huge collection of SF books and love reading.

I certainly love fanzines. I have a big collection - German and US ones. Lots of them are from Orion Press and only recently I ordered some more from you. I think you do a great job and I will continue to support you by buying more when I can afford it."[18]
Baerbel Haddrell also asked whether the type of fanzine subject matter could make a difference in zine sales:
"Hm, have a closer look at these titles. They are mainly TNG ones. Also in Germany, TNG submissions for the Forum are WAY down. There are hardly any new TNG fanzines available in Germany as well.

I think the reason is that people are divided in two factions (roughly speaking): The die-hard [[[Star Trek:TOS|TOS]] fan who is not very interested in modern Star Trek and the people who prefer the modern Star Trek are more involved with the latest series. I am one of the latter and I felt the same way: I still like TNG but compared to Voyager or certainly DS9 and New Frontier it is pale in comparison.

The best selling series in Germany is definitely DS9."[19]
One fan pointed out that the variety of fanfiction on the Internet made it more appealing to her. From Charlene Vickers:
"The other thing I get from the web that I can't get from zines is variety. You don't print erotica in your zines. That's your perogative. The K/S zines print nothing but K/S. Also their perogative. I enjoy both erotic and non-erotic Trek stories. So if I want both, I'd have to buy both K/S zines and Orion Press type zines. Lots of bucks. I also enjoy erotic pairings other than K/S, and, from what I've been able to discover, that is not available in zines at all (unless you're collecting the old ones). If it weren't for the net, I'd think that Kirk and Spock were the only TOS folk getting it off, and I *know* that's not true. The net is filling a niche that the zines aren't, IMO."[20]
The difficulty of paying in the pre-Paypal days, particularly for international fans, was also discussed. From Jungle Kitty:
[Many fanzine publishers]
  • don't accept credit cards (understandable, given it's a cottage industry)
  • don't accept cash
  • don't accept postal money orders
  • don't accept cheques drawn on a Canadian bank
  • don't accept money orders unless they're drawn on a US bank"[21]
One new fanzine publisher talked about her attempts to break into the "fanzine club." From Eva Seifert:
"Another reason I think print zines are hurting: I'm still very new at this (only 3 years) but one thing I have noticed is that there seems to be a "clique" in fandom. Unless you're one of the "good ole boys" from the original heydey of fandom, you're ignored - by long time fans and by other zine publishers. If nothing else, the online stuff is bringing in people who have never heard of zines. I'm constantly recommending other people's zines to my customers, especially since many of them are new to fandom and have never heard of zines until they ordered one of mine. (Also there aren't many DS9 zines out there.) But, to be blunt, I've rarely gotten queries about my zines from the "names" in fanzine publishing. I sometimes get the idea that fanzine publishing is a closed club and how dare anyone new intrude on it. At least, the ST zines seem to be; there are only 2 of us out there doing Hogan's Heroes zines. Perhaps that's an unfair impression, but from where I sit, it's also a true impression. Perhaps fanzine publishers need to be more supportive of others in the field. Ways to do so: Advertise other zines in theirs, or include flyers from other zines with their mailings. (I'm perfectly willing to send anyone brochures for my zines.) Read other publishers' zines and then recommend them to their readers. Circulate lists of cons with Orphan Zine Tables. All of that helps to broaden the base of readers. The competition zine publishers face is not each other. It is the free stuff online."[22]
She then went on to point out that:
"Another problem, though it's not one with Orion Press, or Clean Slate or KnightWriter and others, is that some zine publishers act as if they're doing you a favor if they condescend to fill your order in 6 months or take a year to answer a query, if they ever do. If I had that kind of a response when I first discovered zines, I wouldn't have bothered doing it again. I've been burned a couple of times, but I know that's the exception and not the rule.[23]
Ming Wathne, the creator of the Fanzine Archives wisely pointed out that print fanzines were more long lasting and reliable then NetFic:
"Well as the curator of the Fan Zine archives Randy does have a point. But the one thing seems to be missing in most of this talk. Do you read more than one story at a time--do you take the zine--story--to the Bathroom to contemplate. When you go back to get the story someone told you about--is it there? After tracking on line material for 2 years and being a Fan Editor myself as well I can see problems on line as well. How often do you actually print out an [online] story?"[24]
While the debate continued, a few fans brainstormed about ways to make fanzines more appealing. From Alana at Aleph Press:
"Hmm. Now I'm wondering about the concept of fanzines-on-tape.

i know a lot of people who listen to books while driving in the car. (I don't, but others do.) Obviously, you cannot surf web page *or* read a paper zine while driving. And fandom has a goodly number of the vision-impaired. So there would be a decent market for this.

What about fanzines on tape? If you sold them for the same price as real fanzines, you might actually be able to hire people as readers (given that the cost of an audiotape is about $2, if you sold the zine for the $11-20 that zines normally go for, the rest of that money can be used to subsidizing hiring readers, possibly drama majors from local colleges.)

Does this strike anyone as an interesting concept?"[25]
The idea was met with skepticism. From Randy Landers:
"Possibly, but I think you'd have a limited audience [for fanzines on tape]. You also raise the risk of attracting unwanted legal attention from Paramount who has little choice but to tolerate the net and zines. But stopping a fan from producing his or her own "audio dramas" might be something they'd consider pursuing. After all, they've gone after plays. Also, why stop it there? Who's to say that some energetic fan won't produce a Trek video taped episode or two in the coming years? Complete with CGI, no doubt. As someone who was an amateur film maker in high school and at college, I don't think it's all that unlikely someone won't try (if they haven't already, I'd be surprised)."[26]
As was the idea that fanzine publishers consider experimenting with simultaneous online and print publishing. From Marlissa:
"Let me respectfully suggest that you consider changing the way you think about this. Rather than asking, "How can I sell more zines?", try, "How can I reach more readers?... By making it available online you got more readers and more feedback than you probably would have had otherwise--or do you think I'm way off in this assumption? By making it available in hard copy form as well, you didn't miss those readers who want only zines, or who particularly wanted a zine version of that story."[27]
Another zine publisher dismissed the suggestion. From Ann Zewen:
"Your point of view has merit, Marlissa, but without going into a long, boring spiel, I'd just like to say that simultaneous publishing, especially of anthology zines, would be an expensive proposition because of reduced sales. And I don't think it would be fair of Randy to abandon his loyal contributors and readers who either don't have access to the Internet or simply want their nice, attractively printed zine.... In the meantime, if instant gratification is what you want, post your stories on the net; and if *free* stories are what you want, read them there. But if you want an attractive, well laid out, lovingly edited publication you can hold in your hands, then submit to or buy fanzines. Personally, I think there's room for both and will be for some time to come."[28]
The perception that print fanzines were better edited, and therefore a better product, persisted. From Joyce Harmon:
"Well, I'm someone who discovered fanfic through the net, two years before I started purchasing zines. And I'm very much a convert to zines. Why? Because there's an *editor*! There's plenty of fanfic on the internet, a huge amount, more than any one person could ever possibly read. Some of it is as excellent as any pro-fiction you can find in the bookstores. The difficulty is *finding* the excellent stories amid the huge inventory out there.

Don't get me wrong, I love all the democracy and easy-access stuff about the internet. If someone wants to start a website and post their stories, or post them to a mailing list or usenet group, more power to them, whether or not they have any talent. They're enjoying it, and probably plenty of other people are enjoying their work.

But as a *reader*, finding the fanfic you're interested in is like reading through a publishing house's slush pile, looking through all the thousands of submissions for the handful that the publisher will decide merits publication."[29]
Which led at least one fanzine publisher, Randy Landers, to proudly announce:
"Interesting that you should mention libraries. Our zines are sold to four university libraries, and two bookstores order zines from time to time."[30]

So...What Was The Outcome?

Like most Internet discussions, there was no "winner" in the debate and no final conclusions were drawn. Internet fans continued to read, write and post their fic online and fanzine publishers continued to struggle with finding both submissions and buyers.

After shutting down his fanfiction website due to bandwith and lost sale concerns, Randy returned to alt.startrek.creative a few months later to participate in another debate of the merits of online fic vs printfic: see fanfiction: web or zine?. [31] In June 1999, Orion Press once again announced that the costs of maintaining a website that offered free fanfic was not workable.

Randy wrote:
"By shutting down our free fan fiction web sites, we've saved over $175 a month because of the gigabytes of disk space and bandwidth we no longer have to pay for. And if people want our TNG, DS9 and VOY fan fiction, all they have to do is pony up around $10 for the latest issue of our zines."[32]

and

"We tried the free webfic site, and that didn't work. Like I said repeatedly, if only 1/10th of the visitors to the website had bought one zine per year, those websites would still be up and running and available. By posting the material to the websites three years after publication,[33] we lost sales from folks who are content to go through our 40MB of material rather than buy a single zine. I would love for someone to figure out how to make print media and the internet work. I suspect that PocketBooks and the other major publishers would be interested as well, but I'm not sure that it's ever going to happen. But, hey, if anyone's got a suggestion, I'll be glad to entertain it......I see ASC as a bookstore might see a public library. Like it or not, ASC is a competitor for ORION PRESS, not only in terms of readership, but also in terms of contributors."[34]
Other fanzine publishers felt differently. From Gabrielle Lawson:
"I've mentioned one already several times, but it takes a different philosophy, a different way of thinking about your zines. I offer mine first to my mailing list, because those are already in the proper format for e-mailing, then to asc, just

because that's easy to format. Then to my site, because that's not too hard either. Print comes last just because it takes time to format, print, copy, etc. But still, I try to get them all out within a few weeks.

My philosophy is different. I don't see the zines and the net as competition. I see them as two different ways to get my stories out to readers. Some of my readers online purchase the print copies. I'm not worried about how many I sell or don't sell. I don't have a print run. I can print the same zine fifteen years from now if someone says they want it.

My story site is free, since it's on GeoCities, so it doesn't cost me anything to put the stories up.

It's a completely different way of doing things, but it works very well for me. No muss, no fuss. Readers of both kinds."[35]

And, in an unusual twist of events, TPTB appeared in the thread to weigh in with their suggestions about marketing and selling fiction online. John Ordover, the editor of a company that professionally published Star Trek tie in books wrote:

"There are two ways to stay in business on the internet:

1) Sell advertising on your site

2) Understand that the site is nothing more than a catalogue and a form of advertising for your product.

If you're selling prose, try posting only the first few pages of a story.:)

John Ordover
Executive Editor
Star Trek Fiction
Pocket Books "[36]
and
"My sales are strong and growing, especially TNG, while yours are dropping off to the point where you say TNG is dying.:) I must be doing something right - and, frankly, you must be doing something wrong, or your sales would be growing (when sales slump, it's -always- the publisher's fault). Or it could be the webbies are right, and the day of printed fan-fiction is passing." [37]
Needless to say, this input was not welcomed:
"I have no explanation for this difference. Perhaps, though, the fact is that you've so flooded the market with books...that readers no longer have any need for fanzines."[38]

References

  1. reference link. reference link.
  2. alt.startrek.creative reply by Michael Roy Hollihan dated October 21, 1998.
  3. alt.startrek.creative reply by Gabrielle Lawson dated October 21, 1998.
  4. alt.startrek.creative reply by MAC dated October 21, 1998.
  5. alt.startrek.creative reply by marta rodriguez dated October 21, 1998.
  6. alt.startrek.creative reply by A. LANGSDORF dated October 21, 1998.
  7. alt.startrek.creative reply by Jon Andersen dated October 21, 1998.
  8. alt.startrek.creative reply by kira-nerys dated October 21, 1998; reference.
  9. alt.startrek.creative reply by kira-nerys dated October 22, 1998; reference link.
  10. This is an urban legend something that was known at the time. See reply by Laura Jacquez Valentine dated October 22, 1998; reference link.
  11. alt.startrek.creative reply by Randy Landers dated October 22, 1998; reference link.
  12. alt.startrek.creative reply by Randy Landers dated October 30, 1998; reference link.
  13. alt.startrek.creative reply by Randy Landers dated October 30, 1998; reference link.
  14. alt.startrek.creative reply by Laura Taylor dated October 21, 1998.
  15. alt.startrek.creative reply by pensnest dated October 22, 1998; reference link; reference link.
  16. alt.startrek.creative reply by pensnest dated October 21, 1998; reference link; reference link.
  17. Randy replied in a later posting that "Interestingly enough, German fanzine readers make up about 9% of our sales. That's a REMARKABLY HIGH figure. England comes in second with about 5% of our sales. The rest of the non-US resident readers come in to about 6% combined." post by Randy Landers dated Oct 22, 1998; reference link.
  18. alt.startrek.creative reply by Baerbel Haddrell dated October 21, 1998; reference link; reference link.
  19. alt.startrek.creative reply by Baerbel Haddrell dated October 21, 1998; reference link; reference link.
  20. alt.startrek.creative reply by Charlene Vickers dated October 22, 1998; reference link.
  21. alt.startrek.creative reply by Jungle Kitty dated October 22, 1998; reference link.
  22. alt.startrek.creative reply by Eva Seifert dated October 24, 1998; reference link.
  23. alt.startrek.creative reply by Eva Seifert dated October 24, 1998; reference link.
  24. alt.startrek.creative reply by Ming Wathne dated October 24, 1998; reference link.
  25. alt.startrek.creative reply by Aleph Press dated October 25, 1998; reference link.
  26. alt.startrek.creative reply by Randy Landers dated October 25, 1998; reference link.
  27. alt.startrek.creative reply by Marlissa dated October 27, 1998; link.
  28. alt.startrek.creative reply by Ann Zewen dated October 29, 1998; reference link.
  29. alt.startrek.creative reply by Joyce Harmon dated October 22, 1998; reference link.
  30. alt.startrek.creative reply by Randy Landers dated October 26, 1998; reference link.
  31. fanfiction: web or zine? thread in alt.startrek.creative dated May 28, 1999; reference link.
  32. fanfiction: web or zine? Randy Landers post in alt.startrek.creative dated May 30, 1999; reference link. Note that the actual cost of a fanzine at the time was closer to $20, not $10.
  33. The majority of fanzine publishers at the time required that the fanworks be kept offline for one year, so Orion Press' three year prohibition was unsuual.
  34. alt.startrek.creative reply and this followup by Randy Landers dated June 1, 1999; reference link and reference link.
  35. alt.startrek.creative reply by Gabrielle Lawson dated June 1, 1999; reference link.
  36. alt.startrek.creative reply by John Ordover dated June 1, 1999; reference link.
  37. alt.startrek.creative reply by John Ordover dated May 30, 1999; reference link.
  38. alt.startrek.creative reply by Randy Landers dated June 1, 1999; reference link.