Empires Fall but Enclaves Rise

The Washington Post Book World had two interesting articles last Sunday, both of which taken together show two different data points on the ever-changing landscape of modern commerical publishing.

An essay about the recent funeral of legendary publisher Robert Giroux, of Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, used the retrospective of his long literary career buying such seminal 20th-century works as The Catcher in the Rye to comment on the very different and currently shifting nature of commercial publishing. The essay was more geared toward mainstream literary fiction rather than any specific genre, but its overall mood seems quite reflective of the current times.

And a column by Michael Dirda, noted reviewer of SF/F and a Guest of Honor at Capclave 2008, listed many of the best and brightest among the small presses that have emerged in the last decade. Most of those on his list are SF/F presses like Wildside and Night Shade–I don’t know if that’s because Dirda, with his SF/F reading experience, is more familiar with SF/F small presses or if it’s because there are more small presses in SF/F than in other genres.

The small press movement is very important to me because they publish far more short fiction than the larger publishers–not only anthologies and collections but many magazines–and also because this year I joined their ranks in my own small way by starting a magazine.

It will be fascinating to see where things go from here, especially in the world of short fiction. If Clarkesworld Magazine and its clever publisher Neil Clarke are any indication, audio short fiction may be one of the new frontiers.

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