Looking at Subscription Data

The discussion in the comments about Amazon ranks sent me off on a tangent. I gathered some Amazon rankings for SFF magazines that offer subscriptions via Amazon and having got that data I thought I should do something with it.

As I also had the 2017 Fireside Report data I thought I’d compare the two. Now, this data is not great. Firstly, while the Fireside Report is methodical it is necessarily less strong on a per-magazine basis than it is in aggregate — one author incorrectly identified (or not identified) would have a big impact on the proportion listed. Secondly, the Amazon rankings I’ve got don’t necessarily represent the size of the readership consistently between the magazines — there is some major variation in business model between the magazines listed.

Still, I was curious. Story outlets that maintain an ongoing Kindle subscription model would be (I speculated) the more established and hence ‘traditional’ and hence reflect the least amount of social/cultural change.

Given all that, it is not surprising that the data is really just a big bunch of all-over-the-place when comparing rankings. I did tabulate sub-rankings in particular categories but those rankings on their own terms appeared to make no sense and/or not quite commensurate classifications within Amazon.

No strong conclusions to draw other than:

  • there’s no obvious commercial downside for outlets that have better representation
  • overall (as noted in the Fireside report) the level of representation isn’t good
  • Uncanny’s model doesn’t suit the ranking very well.

The last two columns are from the Fireside Report 2017 Google spreadsheet https://firesidefiction.com/blackspecfic-2017

Magazine Amazon Kindle Subs Rank
total stories, black authors % stories by black authors
Fantasy & Science Fiction

214,172

4

6.7%

Asimov’s

220,953

1

1.4%

Analog

263,553

0

0.0%

Clarkesworld

343,321

0

0.0%

Lightspeed

428,963

3

6.5%

Apex

564,541

6

18.8%

Nightmare Magazine

989,486

2

8.3%

Uncanny

2,464,628

4

12.5%

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6 comments

  1. Mark Hepworth

    Per a 2017 Locus I have (so 2016 data) the Big 3 are actually the other way round to their Amazon ranks – Analog, Asimovs, F&SF. Probably represents their rump of dedicated readers who sub direct rather than via Amazon.
    The rest seem to be in order, but Uncanny do better than that ranking suggests – I think they do a lot of their business via their yearly Kickstarter.

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  2. Laura

    Uncanny’s Year Five Kickstarter just wrapped up with 902 backers — not all levels include a subscription though. They also have Weightless Books subscriptions.

    F&SF emagazine subscriptions were exclusively through Amazon for a while, but now they’re at Weightless Books too.

    Apex has their own store. They sell through Weightless Books. And you can subscribe via their Patreon.

    Lightspeed/Nightmare and Clarkesworld also have direct sales and other options.

    Don’t know about the other 2 of the Big 3.

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  3. greghullender

    I think this just reaffirms, as you suggested, that the Fireside report simply doesn’t have enough data to draw any conclusions per magazine. It can draw some broad conclusions, but not any specific ones.

    I looked at adding Nightmare to the list of publications, but it doesn’t fit very well unless we assume Kindle is a much lower percentage of it’s subscriptions than it is of the other magazines.

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