The demise of small online publications

This post was originally written on 7th July, 2009. Part of this post is quoted in the article “Persistent Identifiers: the ‘URN Granular’ Project of the German National Library and the University and State Library Halle” [PDF]

My poem “Covers and Spines” was published in issue #2 of Foundling Review, a brand-new weekly online literary publication (debuted two months ago in May). It publishes 2 stories, 3-4 poems and a B&W or sepia photograph in each issue. I visit the website at least once a week to read the newly-selected creative pieces. It is highly worrying that the website hasn’t been updated for two weeks. I hope this does not mean that the publication is ‘dead’.

I hate to see online publications go. LilyHiNgE, Softblow, Postal Poetry… the list goes on. All of a sudden the published works in those publications become orphans, URL-less. Other places don’t want them because editors tend to like fresh pieces (Cha editors included!). Unless you hide your poems’ or stories’ publication history (i.e. lie), your pieces are in a limbo: published yet not published. 
Well, at least some ‘dead’ online journals are not buried, yet. It is good, then, that the archives of Postal Potery and Lily: A Monthly Online Literary Review are still there, available for all. [Updated on Thursday 28 October 2010: Postal Poetry has a new archive; see here.] Can I suggest that all editors of online publications backup their websites? (Another task for Cha web

asters.) Don’t disappoint your contributors, please. I know we cannot have these websites eternally — I guess I am just hoping to have things a little bit longer …. 

And come back soon, Foundling Review!
Updated on Wedesday 8 July 2009: I have just been told that Softblow will be back! This is good news — I visited the website every month to read the new installments.
Updated on Wednesday 8 July 2009, 3:30pm: Check out the new issue (issue #21) of BluePrintReview — another brilliant and inspiring issue packed with lovely poetry and fiction as well as photography and art. And read the Call for Submissions – editor Dorothee Lang is considering reprints for the 22nd issue of BPR, titled “re /visit /cycle /turn” (here is one thoughtful and generous editor!).
Updated on Saturday 11 July 2009, 1:05pm: Foundling Review is back!

Updated on Thursday 28 October 2010: Cha now has a regular section entirely devoted to ‘lost’ works: “Lost Teas”.

17 Responses “The demise of small online publications” →
naperville mom
July 8, 2009
We got to spread word so more are aware and hopefully, more’d submit…:(
July 8, 2009
You’re quite right, which is why Dana and I are committed to keeping the Postal Poetry archives up as long as possible.
July 8, 2009
While waiting for softblow to resume service, here’s a stop-gap version, courtesy of the Internet Archive
July 8, 2009
Thank you, Alvin! I miss Softblow! I just re-visited some of my favourite writers’ poems — some seem to be missing but I am sure all will be well when the servers are ready. I must admit Softblow was one of the online publications that inspired us to begin Cha!
July 8, 2009
Cha must keep going.
Shadowy figure
July 8, 2009
Secret to preserving stuff on the internet: replication. It’s a bit hard to reconcile that with copyrights for poets and artists, but I guess it ought to be possible to have a duplicate of the entire site on some other domain for posteriority?
July 9, 2009
I agree, the demise of e-journals takes some very good and inspiring work off the net. Maybe the surviving, thriving journals like Cha could have a page available each issue or each year to publish a high quality piece that has been ‘lost’ this way? Just a thought.
July 9, 2009
Very good suggestion, Steve! We will talk to guest editors of Cha and see what they think as well!
July 9, 2009
Insightful piece. I also have to agree with Steve’s suggestion. Having a section devoted to lost works in Cha would be a great idea.
July 10, 2009
That’s an idea for qarrtsiluni too, maybe, own the road – to reprint ‘lost’ works, I mean. We did a “greatest blog hits” issue in ’07 because we felt that too many great works were languishing unread in blog archives. The whole issue of maintaining access to archives is another obsession of mine, and something where the online medium can really do better than print, if editors take advantage of multiple tagging schemes and the like. I fear that older online journals that don’t use modern content managment systems are missing out on such opportunities. So it’s not just a matter of keeping archives up, but also making them accessible to search engines and to regular visitors to the site.
Dave Bonta
July 10, 2009
(down the road, not own the road)
July 10, 2009
We are now seriously considering adding a section in Cha that is entirely devoted to ‘lost’ works. We need to give some more thoughts into this and see how this could work….
July 15, 2009
Tammy – we are happy that you like and read our issues, and hope that we sustain our standards and don’t go away like so many others.
We promise to be around for a long time. Some of our issues might get delayed by a day or two but I don’t recall delaying it by a week. It feels good to know that talented writers/editors like you are keeping us in your loop. And thoughts. Anupama / Assoc. Editor, Foundling Review
naperville mom
July 15, 2009
Great idea actually, of preserving archives… I also hope some of the print publications start to do the same with regard to works published 15 and more years ago, when they didn’t really have a digital version…
July 16, 2009
Congrats on being published in Foundling Review! I remember reading your poem and loving it. It’s really a shame when smaller e-zines simply disappear. But I’m sure at least Foundling Review is coming back soon.
Veil V 
July 17, 2009
Looks like they didn’t go anywhere. Check out their Assoc. Ed’s comments.
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One thought on “The demise of small online publications

  1. Archives are always welcome, and not just to the writer/contributor.

    Poems Niederngasse, edited by Pasquale Capocasa is also closed, like the ones mentioned here, and recently I learnt that The King's English, an online journal devoted to novellas and long stories, edited by Benjamin Chambers has stopped publication. These are just two, apart from Lily, which I know of personally because I was a contributor. When a journal you know, goes, a part of you also goes.


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