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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Markets for Our Writing » Stan Schmidt retires from Analog

   
Author Topic: Stan Schmidt retires from Analog
genevive42
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Here's the link.

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2012/08/stan-schmidt-retires-from-analog/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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Robert Nowall
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I was surprised; thought he'd be there forever.

I've got two basic thoughts: one as a reader, the other as a writer.

As a reader...I started my subscription to Analog just after Ben Bova took over the reins from John W. Campbell. (I missed Campbell by about six issues.) I liked it a lot. When Stan Schmidt took over, I wasn't as happy with the direction the magazine went, and the longer he was there, the less happy I was. But a lot of the "less happy" no doubt comes from my own shifting tastes in reading material, largely away from new SF itself.

As a writer...I also started submitting in the Ben Bova era---stories that were bad and stories that Bova did me a big favor by rejecting. But Stan Schmidt also rejected everything I sent in---though, in my opinion and judgment, my stuff was as good as some of what was being published in Analog, though possibly "my stuff" wasn't "their cup of tea" as well. (This may also color my perception of Analog.)

(In general I've come away from equating "the editors" with "the gods" and see them as "fallible human beings" now.)

*****

Now, as to the new guy, Trevor Quachri, well, I don't recognize the name, so tenuous is my connection to Analog these days. Is he an SF writer, as Campbell, Bova, and Schmidt were and are? If so, it's a break with past tradition.

On the other hand...it could also be an opportunity for us SF writers to dust off something Schmidt rejected and send it in for reconsideration...though as managing editor Quachri might likely have seen some of the more recent rejections...

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rcmann
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Wonder what effect this will have on Asimov's?
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Robert Nowall
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Only now do I realize I should'a written "if not" instead of "if so"---danger in writing off the top of your head.
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rcmann
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Comparing the distribution that each of the Big Three has now, with that they had in the good ole days, I don't think it would hurt any of them to put some marketing experts into positions of authority. It doesn't make one bit of difference, IMO, if you produce crap or if you produce the best product on the market - if no one can find your product to buy it. Or even knows that it exists. i asked my teenage son a couple days ago if he has seen Analog on a magazine rack anywhere in town. He gave me a blank look. he had never heard of it. The boy is a college student and a lifelong sci-fi reader. I followed up. He had never heard of F&SF either. He only knew about Asimov's because I have submitted work to them.

Turns out, none of his school mates have ever seen or read a hard copy of any of the big three in their entire young lives. These are above average kids going to an above average school. I live in a medium sized US city. Not Chicago or LA by any means, but far from a village.

I would buy copies of all three, if I could get them. maybe no subscribe, but at least buy copies off the rack sometimes. Kind of hard to do when they aren't here to buy.

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LDWriter2
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rc if you are into E-pubs you can get some e-versions.

I forget for sure who the third Big one is but you can buy back copies of F&SF and/or Lightspeed through Barnes and Noble E-books.

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rcmann
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I don't want e-copies. I want to pick up a paper magazine, thumb through it to see if it has anything that looks interesting, and toss it in the cart. I don't want to have to go to extreme efforts to find, and more extreme efforts to purchase, something that is by definition supposed to be relaxing.

What puzzles me endlessly, (and it's not just in the writing industry) is the apparent confusion among so many people about the role of the customer. I'm seeing this all over the place. I am not surprised our economy is in the tank. Did none of these kids ever run a lemonade stand? or go door to door offering to do yard work?

It is not the customer's responsibility to hunt the seller down and force them to cough up a product. If you want someone to give you their money, you are supposed to sweet talk them out of it. They are not obligated to fork over. I am not saying one should grovel. I know I won't. But it's ridiculous think someone can stay in business by virtue of customers hunting them down, and then beating them savagely about the head and neck until the vendor finally breaks down and agrees to accept the money from sheer fatigue. It's not a good idea to make it hard for people to find your product.

I went into a department store today, (gospel truth, that's why I'm ranting) to buy a piece of electronics. Nobody was around so I went to the electronics counter and asked the clerk at the register for some help. My existence was ignored. I waited a moment, and another clerk came over to join them. I said, "Excuse me." Nada. I just wasn't there to them. I was a ghost, background noise, a tv that someone had left turned on.

Then I want to a different store. Same thing, nobody on the floor. Went to the register. At least this guy acknowledged me. He pointed across the store and said, "Those guys in photography have the keys to that cabinet. I couldn't help snapping. "You mean I have to chase them down?" He blinked and went after the guy with the key himself, after giving me a put-upon look.

It ain't the buyer's job to find the seller. It ain't the buyer's job to persuade the seller to show them merchandise. That's the seller's job. All the buyer (in my opinion) is required to do is make up their mind about whether or not they want to buy it.

Maybe the people who publish Analog, Asimov's, and F&SF actually make more money now than they did in the days when you could buy their magazines without needing to employ bloodhounds and private detectives. I would be surprised if that is the case. But maybe. But I am still not going to order an e-copy of a print magazine. It's the principle of the thing.

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Robert Nowall
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It was never easy for me to find SF magazines. Analog certainly wasn't common on the newsstands in the 1970s where I hung out---I first saw a copy in a drugstore in College Park, Maryland, while on vacation---then saw another, later issue, next door in the hotel lobby newsstand. (My parents would let me buy only one, and I chose the one with the later date.) I might have seen one or two more in the meantime, but the next one was at that same drugstore on another vacation---and I managed to wangle a subscription right after, missing only one issue in between. (I regret that---that was the issue with the first of Joe Haldeman's "Forever War" stories in it.)

I spotted scattered issues of other magazines all through the next few years, and bought a few---my first issue of F & SF came from another newstand, also in the Washington DC area (in fact, in the Watergate Building). But I managed to subscribe to them about three years after I subscribed to Analog. (Asimov's didn't come along till a few years later.)

But they were hard to find. They were often one-copy-only, and if you didn't get it then and there you didn't get it, because the next time they were gone. I saw the 50th Anniversary Issue of Amazing at one drugstore, and only at one drugstore---then managed to accidentally drop it behind the shelf. (A few months later I moved the shelf a little and retrieved and bought it.)

Nowadays I subscribe to the remaining Big Three---but I do see them at the big chain bookstores in town, which is a different town than the one I grew up in, too. Books-a-Million usually has Asimov's and Analog, while Barnes & Noble usually has F & SF. Some other oddities turn up here and there.

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LDWriter2
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Hmm, hard copies a bit harder to find since a couple bookstores closed around here. Obviously I don't know about where you live.

But Barnes and Noble carries some--I've never checked to see which ones or how many--SF magazines.

I don't know if Asimove's, Analog, etc have a button you can check online. Maybe on their forums.

I know I've seen them somewhere else but I can't think of where right now.

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Robert Nowall
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A little online research, and I find out the issue of Analog I passed on, in favor of the next month's issue, had a lead cover-art story by Stanley Schmidt.

Here's a link to a picture of the cover, if it works:

http://www.philsp.com/data/images/a/analog_197104.jpg

Here's a picture of the issue I bought:

http://www.philsp.com/data/images/a/analog_197105.jpg

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rcmann
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It puzzles me, that's all. Spec fiction is the most popular genre in existence. Just look at all the new tv shows and movies for example. Which I don't find surprising. From the beginning of history, people have loved stories about strange people and weird critters from far away places that "are not like us". Nowadays, with modern tech being what it is, you have to turn to spec fic to get that kind of story.

Yes magazines with a much narrower audience appeal, like Time, Newsweek, New Yorker, Playboy, Cosmo, etc. are all over the place. Even papers like the Examiner are poked in your face at every checkout. What do they know that the Old Three don't?

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Robert Nowall
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I have a theory, thought up on the spot as I read this, that the SF magazine "ghetto" might be analogous to Negro League baseball. ("Analogous"---heh heh heh...)

One of the purposes of the Negro Leagues was to keep the talent and ability high, so that when the door opened for them to play in the majors, they could walk in with heads held high and hold their own against what was there already.

But once the door did open and the players did walk through...it was the end of the Negro Leagues, which soon withered and died away.

The SF magazines could be said to have kept the talent and skill level high enough, so that when the moment was right and the culture outside was read, the writers just walked through---and the magazines withered.

(Not that Time, Newsweek, and Playboy are doing particularly well---their sale base is down substantially, the first two due in part to their political stance, and them and the third from an inability to compete with what's out there on the web.)

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rcmann
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But Sci-Fy network seems to be doing well.
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Robert Nowall
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They got taken over by the suits, changed their name to SyFy, badmouthed science fiction and science fiction fans, and now run pro wrestling in prime time. Almost as bad as the fate of the Nashville Network...
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rcmann
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egad, the horror...
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Crank
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quote:
Robert Nowall: I first saw a copy in a drugstore in College Park, Maryland, while on vacation
You're talking my home town! Do you happen to remember the name of this drugstore? I'm taking a roadie back home soon, and I will have no problem tracking down this place if it still exists.

S!

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Robert Nowall
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Ah! a solicited personal reminiscence...I can't recall the name of the drugstore; it was a chain in a strip mall a short walk down the street from the hotel we stayed at. Also it was 1971...probably, if it's still in business, it's changed hands and names several times.

I remember the hotel better---it was called the Park University Hotel, and I remember this because of a Mynah bird named Pepper inhabited the lobby. It would, when prompted, say things like, "Hello," "My name is Pepper," "Meow," and, of course, "Park University Hotel." This bird fascinated me and my brothers...

(Memory does fade: It might have been "hotel" or it might have been "motel." I'm going with "hotel" here.)

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