Monday, March 12, 2007

Online vs. Print

In poetry circles, there seems to be an ongoing debate about the validity and legitimacy of online journals, webzines, and blogs. Many think of the back-and-forth in this way: Print is print and online is online and never the two shall meet. If a journal, for instance, does not have a long, storied history in print, then it won't carry the same weight as Paris Review or Ploughshares.

The reality is we’re all attracted to print, but we’re reading more online. It’s a nasty little secret established print publications won't admit. But the constraints on publishing online are fewer than on small presses and college-run organizations: no distribution issues, back issues are more readily available, and it's easier to track readership.

Consider these few points:

  1. Publications that focus their efforts on the Web are much more dynamic now than ever before. For example, MiPoesias and From the Fishhouse have audio components, which take the poetry experience to the next level by bringing the voice of the poet to the masses.
  2. Much of the Web traffic for literary Web sites comes from bloggers. I’ve said it before, but a favorable review of a poet or a book review can translate to numerous page hits for a Web journal--immediately. As print costs and subscription rates increase, established publishers will look to move more of their efforts online.
  3. Several online journals can nominate for top prizes such as the Pushcart and Best American Poetry.
  4. State councils and government agencies are now funding online literary ventures.
  5. And, (as of this post) online journals such as FailBetter.com are much more favorable to poet-bloggers who have previously posted their poems online.

As more and more MFA students graduate each year, and as the literary blogging community becomes increasingly savvy at getting their work noticed, we will become part of the established poetry circles. So it’s my hope that this whole silly debate between the online vs. print camps becomes irrelevant in 10 years.

3 comments:

twitches said...

I think most of these debates are silly, quite honestly. But then again, I never did care much for being reputable!

Carolee said...

i think (hope!) you're right that the future will be brighter for the reputation of online journals. hey, with new options for publishing our work and some lead time to practice, we may enjoy the benefits!

bostonerin said...

There are a lot of very reputable online journals...many of them are becoming just as selective as print-only ones. Publishing, like any industry, is slow to change. The Stodgy Oldsters will catch up one of these days...

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