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This article is taken from PN Review 143, Volume 28 Number 3, January - February 2002.

Selling the Intangible - Literary e-zines and their profitability Edward Picot

Perhaps the most obvious difference between a literary magazine in print and a literary magazine on the World Wide Web is that the first is tangible and for sale, whereas the second is intangible (perhaps I should say virtual) and freely available to anyone who can find it.

Anyone attempting to launch a print journal has to tackle the questions of how much it will cost to publish and how that cost can be recovered. How will it be reproduced? How large a print-run should be risked? What cover-price should be charged? Once printed, how will it be distributed?

These questions simply do not apply to e-zines. The question of reproduction does not arise because strictly speaking an e-zine is not reproduced at all. The web pages of which the e-zine consists are simply 'posted' or 'uploaded' to a host computer connected to the Internet. Once the host computer has received them, anyone with a browser and an internet connection can look at them. The costs and complications involved with mechanical reproduction are obviated.

The problem of distribution is obviated too. All parts of the World Wide Web are theoretically able to connect with one another at any given moment. Geographical whereabouts is not a consideration. So once an HTML document is on a host computer, and the host computer is connected to the Internet, anyone with a browser can look at it at any time, from anywhere in the world. E-zine editors ...

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