Sunday, January 08, 2006

Magazine Formats

What's your preference for reading fiction magazines? Two-column text or single column text? "Digest" (5" x 7") or "glossy" ("8" x 10")? E-book or print? Lately I've been reading Fantasy and Science Fiction, and I have to say, I really love its format. I find it's a joy to read (completely apart from the content). I don't really like the large-format magazines because they aren't easily transported. I can fold it in half and stick it in my back pocket, but it's still long enough that it pokes me when I sit down. It also gets in pretty bad shape pretty quickly. I would dearly like for e-books to work, but so far I haven't seen a reader I could live with. An e-book reader can't weigh any more than a paperback book, but needs to have a screen that is as easily read and contains the same number of characters per page as a paperback (at least). It also can't get hot, needs to be comfortable to hold, and the batteries have to last a long time. In short, it has to be a paperback book that can hold thousands of stories. We're getting closer, but we aren't there yet.

So I like the digest format, but it wasn't until I picked up Fantasy and Science Fiction recently that I realized how much I prefer the single-column format. The problem with Asimov's and Analog (apart form the fact that they are longer) is that you can't fit even close to a full phrase on a single two-column line. I am a very visual person. Part of the reading experience for me is the white space on the page -- I actually use it in my own stories to help tell the tale. With two-column text, you simply don't have that luxury. The stories are just as enjoyable, of course, but the overall reading experience is just slightly better with F&SF.

So, if you'll excuse me, I've got a magazine to curl up with...

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