One of the most exciting new short fiction publications of recent years, Jim Baen's Universe, is closing down after its fourth year, says editor Eric Flint. The magazine will cease publication with its April 2010 issue.

The reasons for the magazine's halt to publication speak to the challenges of starting any new magazine in this tough climate. Says Flint:

From the beginning, we were too dependent on the income from the Universe club. The Club's purpose was to provide the magazine with a much-needed initial surge of income-which it did indeed provide-and then, after the first year, to continue as an important but subsidiary source of income. Instead, the Club wound up being the source of about half of our annual income, from beginning to end.

That was just too much; or, to put it another way, a reliance on too few critically important subscribers. Once some of them began to fall by the wayside-which was inevitable and, indeed, something we expected-the magazine's income began to be badly squeezed.

It was our hope from the beginning that, as time went by, we'd expand our regular subscription base to the point where that base alone provided all the income we needed to keep publishing. Obviously, a situation where many customers are paying a small amount is a much more stable and dependable financial basis on which to operate a magazine.

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Going forward, any fiction magazine that aims to become self-supporting either has to collect tons of donations, rope in some bigger advertisers, or find a pool of subscribers that's both large and die-hard. [via Locus]