The Value of Literary Magazines

Though literary magazines are becoming less and less common with the growth of the internet and all the wonders it holds, the “Little Magazine”, as it is often referred to, is still much more common than one might think. Universities and small or self publishers across the US still widely produce literary magazines. Many have even adapted their publications to our growing online world. Humboldt State University’s student run magazine, Toyon, now hosts an online version of its magazine and has worked toward visual-audio pieces such as spoken word poetry.

So how, despite this ever-growing world of instant information and entertainment, are these Little Magazines still alive? It can’t just be hipster millennials’ interest in outdated methods, right?

That’s correct – mostly because the literary magazine is not an outdated concept. Production of literary magazines is still highly valuable, even in our modern world. These small publications provide opportunities for writers that they would not otherwise receive, especially from large publishers that have become corporate entities. A writer’s desire to write and publish is something that will never die, no matter how much our informational world changes. The literary magazine rose as a method for writers to have their voices heard. The original purpose is something, despite our ever evolving world, that has not changed.

However, anyone with basic business knowledge knows that for a product to succeed, there must be both supply and demand. We have ample enough supply of talented and passionate writers, but is there a demand? The answer is yes! Because literary magazines are often small publications without agendas, they expose readers to new material from unfiltered voices. As humans, we lust after honesty and individuality. The literary magazine is a great source from which we can quench these natural thirsts. The work a writer submits to a Little Magazine is so frequently different than that which they would submit to a corporate publication or even allude toward on their social media. It has an element of raw individuality that can only come from writing for oneself.

In his article, “Little Magazine, What Now?”, Paul Bixler points out that 80% of American writers who arose after 1912 got their start in literary magazines. Throughout the article, Bixler advocates the use of literary magazines over a profit minded corporate alternative. He claims that literary magazines are a great way to break away from a corporate controlled world. By continuing to use literary magazines, we are taking literature into our own hands and refusing to conform to a consumeristic standard of art. Literary magazines keep control in the hands of the artists.


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