Astra Magazine had creative freedom and a budget. It wasn’t enough.

In the United States, none of the Big Five publishers are currently funding these outlets. The infrastructure supporting national literary magazines is also crumbling: there are fewer newsstands, fewer bookstores stocking niche magazines, fewer advertisers willing to spend on print editions, and – in a world where information is increasingly being stored online – fewer people willing to subscribe.

Many literary journals, such as The Paris Review and The Drift, are non-profit. With the support of a foundation and a private donor, The Dial announced itself last week as a new non-profit literary magazine. And as their names suggest, publications like The Yale Review, The Hopkins Review, and The Kenyon Review are university-sponsored or tied to university publishers.

Magazines that are funded solely by corporations, benefactors, or universities are always going to be “deeply vulnerable to someone’s final decision,” Freeman said.

Earlier this year, The Believer, a small but respected literary journal, was sold by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to a company hoping to make money on the site by publishing content targeted to get clicks and online – achieve ads. The magazine was not a sure-fire success, but it had an outsized impact in the literary world. The Believer Festival, for example, helped make Las Vegas an unlikely literary hub.

After much uproar in the literary world, The Believer was sold back to its original publisher, McSweeney’s, and reissued this month in San Francisco.

One funding alternative, Freeman said, could be a “collaborative” model where editors are retail investors, collectively raising money and developing a self-sustaining financial structure. Long-running short story magazine One Story is an example, he said.

However, it could take years for these self-proclaimed “small” magazines to reach a critical mass of readers, which could make them difficult to sustain without long-term supporters, he said. It’s particularly challenging at a time when, he added, “we’re impatient to digest information and meaning because of the pace we live and the way our technology pushes us into predetermined silos.” “ Astra Magazine had creative freedom and a budget. It wasn’t enough.

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