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Literary Magazines Continue to Thrive

The New York Times documents something we here at FishbowlNY have been noticing for some time now: that for all the doomsday predictions for the magazine industry and declining read rates for books, the literary magazine industry is thriving.

Jeffrey Lependorf, executive director of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, indicated that the organization’s membership has more than doubled in the last decade, from 230 to more than 500 publications and small presses.

The Times piece looks at the success of several San Francisco-based literary magazines like The Threepenny Review and McSweeney’s Quarterly, and online start-ups like The Rumpus. But it also mentions a few New York literary magazines, like Canteen Magazine, which has staff members in San Francisco and New York, as well as the indispensible Brooklyn-based Electric Literature.

While some literary magazines have seen success by adapting to, or capitalizing on, the new digital order, others have stuck with the print industry, and owe their longevity to their dedicated subscriber bases and low overhead costs. There seems to be room for both types of literary magazines, which, for the literary community, is a very, very good thing.

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