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The Precarious Existence of Independent Publications in a Digital Age: The Impact of Amazon’s Kindle Periodicals Discontinuation


As an avid reader and writer of short stories, I’ve always held a deep appreciation for the vital role independent publications play in nurturing and showcasing literary talent. Growing up, I eagerly subscribed to various magazines like The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, Asimov’s, and others, recognizing the delicate financial balance they maintained through contributions, subscriptions, advertising, and sometimes even personal sacrifices.

The advent of digital platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Periodicals program provided a glimmer of hope for these publications, offering a convenient way for readers to subscribe and access content. However, this lifeline has recently been severed, leaving independent publishers scrambling to stay afloat.

The Announcement and Its Repercussions

In March 2023, Amazon announced the discontinuation of all print and Kindle magazine and newspaper subscriptions, a decision that took effect on September 4th of the same year. This abrupt policy change sent shockwaves through the independent publishing community, as many relied heavily on Kindle Periodicals for subscriber acquisition and revenue generation.

The sudden loss of subscribers posed a significant challenge for these publications, as they were unable to directly contact and redirect affected readers to other subscription methods. Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, highlighted this issue, stating, “None of us know who these subscribers are” due to the third-party nature of Amazon’s platform.

The Result: A Publication’s Demise

The consequences of Amazon’s decision were swift and devastating. Fantasy Magazine, a respected publication in the genre, announced in its August 2023 issue that it would cease publication in October of the same year. The editorial cited the Kindle Periodicals debacle as the primary reason for this unfortunate outcome, emphasizing that the magazine had never reached a point of financial sustainability.

This stark reality underscores the precarious existence of independent publications, particularly those catering to niche audiences such as science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, romance, and young adult literature. Operating on shoestring budgets and relying on dedicated readerships, these publications often struggle to break even, let alone thrive.

The Struggle for Survival

In the face of this adversity, some independent publications are exploring alternative avenues for survival. Many have been invited to join Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, which offers a monthly subscription fee for access to books and select magazine subscriptions. However, even those who join Kindle Unlimited will experience a reduction in revenue compared to direct subscriptions.

Direct subscriptions, Weightless Books, and Patreon have emerged as potential lifelines for these publications, providing readers with direct ways to support their favorite magazines and authors. However, the transition from Amazon’s platform to these alternative methods poses challenges, as evidenced by Locus magazine’s quote from Lynne Thomas, editor of Uncanny: “This could not have come at a worse time for SFF periodicals since so many of us are also weathering the storms of reduced advertising revenue and the possible death of Twitter, which is vital for crowdfunding projects.”

The Role of Readers in Supporting Independent Publications

While many readers rely on free online content, often tolerating advertisements or utilizing ad-blocking software, it is crucial to recognize the importance of supporting independent publications that produce high-quality content. These publications provide a platform for emerging writers, promote diverse voices, and contribute to the vitality of the literary landscape.

For those who value short stories and independent publications, exploring ways to support them is essential. Subscribing directly to magazines, contributing to crowdfunding campaigns, and spreading the word about their work are tangible ways to make a difference.


The discontinuation of Amazon’s Kindle Periodicals program has dealt a severe blow to the already fragile ecosystem of independent publications. As these publications navigate this challenging landscape, readers have a vital role to play in ensuring their survival. By actively supporting these bastions of literary excellence, we can help preserve the diversity and creativity that define the world of short stories and independent publishing.

By actively supporting independent publications, readers can help ensure the survival of these vital literary outlets, preserving the diversity and creativity that define the world of short stories and independent publishing.