The Atlantic is going to start publishing fiction again. So no more of those newstand-only summer fiction issues (which were good, though, especially the 2008 one that highlighted emerging authors). Instead, a supplement will accompany the May issue that will include half a dozen short stories and — obligatory for all American magazines, for every single issue — an essay from the ubiquitous Joyce Carol Oates.
Here's an excerpt from the full note in the April issue:
"But as longtime, generously loyal readers know, for the past five years we have published fiction once a year in a special newstand issue, rather than in any of our 10 subscriber issues. During what has been widely noted to be a 'challenging' (read: harrowing) business environment for publishing, this has been a necessary compromise. But none of us has been particularly happy with it, and we have been searching for ways to once again place great fiction in front of all our readers."
The vote of confidence is encouraging. As they say later on in the editor's note: "We are seeing renewed interest in the short story."
Strangely, editor James Bennet doesn't mention what will happen with the Kindle model, which sells e-stories for $3.99. Will they continue with supplements, the Kindle model AND a summer fiction issue? It seems like they're experimenting with all forms of distribution and will stick to whatever works.
I actually respect this — it seems forward thinking. Even if the Atlantic editors don't know the course, they're willing to try out a few roads to find a viable model.