Realms of Fantasy Probably Can’t be Saved

For the third time in nearly three years, Realms of Fantasy has announced that it will cease publication. The current owners, William and Kim Gilchrist of Damnation Books LLC, have announced the October 2011 issue will be the last.

Realms of Fantasy Folds (Again), Locus

Ugh. This isn’t surprising but it really pisses me off!

When this happened last year, I inquired about the sale terms because I was legitimately interested, and after one go-round that included some basic info, I got no response from Lapine when I followed up with a specific question about the subscriptions, the only liability he was looking to transfer:

“You seem to be expecting a new owner to pick up where you’re leaving off and continue with the established model. Is that an assumption, a preference or a stipulation? re: the subscription liability, has the revenue been amortized? It sounded like you were also looking at another magazine possibly taking it on, but how do plan to handle refund requests if that doesn’t work out? What’s your newsstand presence look like, and how does Curtis feel about the potential shuttering?”

Five days after I sent that to Lapine, a deal was announced with the Gilchrists who had no apparent experience in magazine publishing, but expressed the intent to carry on with the established model, making a solid case for Realms of Fantasy being a good fit with their ebook publishing business. I casually followed the transition for a couple of months before losing interest, and was disappointed to check in last week to find an uninspired website and social media presence, and PDF-only digital editions. I also realized I hadn’t noticed the magazine on the newsstands in months.

At this point, you’d have to be crazy to take another shot at reviving the brand, and not because I agree with its editor, Douglas Cohen, who suggested, “the sad truth of the matter is that there might not a place for niche magazines like Realms of Fantasy anymore.” I believe the exact opposite, but that place is definitely not in print on newsstands six times a year, and unfortunately, after the past three years, it’s unlikely to be under the Realms of Fantasy banner.

And that’s a damn shame.

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