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Comments from the Locus Poll & Survey

Here are comments, presented anonymously and grouped by theme, submitted by voters in this year’s Locus Poll and Survey. Results of the poll were published in the magazine’s July issue; survey responses will appear in August.

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Current State of SF:

Although I still love SF&F, I find myself reading less of it these days. I still pick up books from a few favorite authors, but otherwise find I am spending more time reading non-fiction or Web content.

My favorite sub-genre at the moment is urban fantasy. These days I’m reading most of my books as ebooks on my kindle.

Nashville lost its two remaining large bookstores, Davis-Kidd (which started independent before joining an Ohio chain) in Dec. 2009, and a Borders location next to Vanderbilt University by end of April, 2011, both to bankruptcy, and both were in high-rent locations where re-negotiation of leases wasn’t possible. Borders’ lease was reportedly $60,000 per year. The used bookstore where I work on weekends, Bookman/Bookwoman, owned by SF collector Larry Woods, is adding a very few bestseller titles to a new-book sale display, but there is no newsstand, and this capital city of the state no longer has Locus on newsstands, nor the New York Review of Books for that matter, nor any new science fiction. A Borders site and one Barnes and Noble remain in the suburbs, 25 minutes from downtown.

Man, the short fiction was crap this year! Especially the novellas. I only voted for two but I actually read more than that. There were only 2 that were decent enough to vote for! And in the other short fiction categories there were no real good standout bests like in previous years. I had to deliberate among the mediocre stories to vote.

I almost decided not to fill in the Poll that much, because I had a large hole in the year, when I broke my leg. I didn’t have as much time to read, between therapy and doctor’s visits (it’s hard to read in a hospital/rehab, when there are frequent and unpredictable interruptions). I finally decided that I just barely read enough to be qualified to vote. It was a good year for collections. I could have easily chosen five different ones. The rest I often barely had five I thought were worth voting for. Dowling’s was the only first novel I read. I’m very skittish of first novels at this point. I can’t buy too many new books any more. I mostly go the specialty press route these days. I may have to start looking at more of the online short fiction, as a lot of your Recommended List was stuff I never saw.

I envy those with the time to keep up with the novels published every year. That was me maybe 30 years ago. After umpteen years of subscribing to several print magazines, I dropped all but one because I simply never read the issues that came in. Cheers for those who really keeping the SF field going!

I read very little short fiction, so I have to leave those categories blank. I’m interested in watching Steampunk evolve as a SF sub-genre, though I’ve yet to get hooked myself. With few exceptions (McGuire, Briggs, some Harrison and Armstrong), I deplore most of the dark fantasy/supernatural trash that’s being marketed as SF these days and inundating book store shelves in lieu of more evocative reading choices. Am currently mourning the death of Diana Wynne Jones while applauding the Harry Potter craze that sent publishers scurrying to bring her books and other wonderful YA SF fiction (Pat O’Shea’s “Hounds of the Morrigan”) back into print for a new generation of readers. I always enjoy both entering and seeing the results of the Locus Poll each year and DO(!) appreciate having the free issue added to my subscription for participating.

I’m very behind on reading the 2010 stuff so I couldn’t vote for anything, but I am currently plodding my way through I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett and finding it long-winded and crying out for editing. It is discouraging to think that once a writer has made his mark, as has Pratchett, any new book of his will automatically plunked into Locus’s Best-Book list, but it appears to be so. It is sad to think that this sub-par work is certain to get an award while other, more deserving works by less-known authors get passed over, but I’d bet on it. It makes me want to give up on reading in particular and society in general, and go live in a cave.

I returned to reading sf/f a couple of years ago, after nearly two decades of wandering in the wilderness of other genres. I was glad and grateful to find that Locus was still around to help me get reacquainted with the field. So much has changed — not least the fact that science fiction now seems to be a subset of fantasy, rather than the other way around! Thanks for being there, and for helping me to make sense of all the changes — and thanks especially for helping me to find books I enjoy reading. Book reviews are — and always have been — my favorite part of Locus, and I only wish you could have more of them!

The large amounts of short fiction available on the internet have made keeping up with the Locus Recommended Reading list more difficult and time consuming. I read fewer novels last year but did not find a lot of really good “free” short fiction. The best stories still appeared in anthologies.

A very nice selection to choose from this year! I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the nominees. Though I did have to add a few of my favorites. Thanks for the opportunity to vote!

… That story about the zombies? Is amazing.

I might have answered yes to some of these questions, but a I don’t have a credit card (I borrow a friend’s periodically), buying online gets harder and harder each year. And I look back on the 60s and 70s, when I routinely read all the print zines, knew the new writers coming up, and nominated and voted on the Hugos regularly with nostalgia. I just don’t have time. So I read mostly novels and look forward to retirement when hopefully more reading time will become available (G). I buy fewer books now than I used to. I’m old enough I actually need to downsize my private library. So I’m reading through my older books and passing them on to friends or the library. The library is my friend and I utilize it a lot, but it does mean it’s even harder to stay current on the good stuff. Keep the paper edition. I carry mine around, reading it when I have minutes here and there (and lunch time) until it is dog-eared and tattered. I would not read it as much if it were online only and had to compete with my home time to read it. Thanks for keeping it going. My friends rely on me to tell them the good stuff, and I rely on you (G). I am now going to make sure I’m not expired . . .

I’m no longer your target audience. There’s precious little non-military, non-tie-in SF being published these days.

I have found that there are fewer books coming out. My “wish” list has been cut by almost 50% over the last few years. Part of the problem is that book prices in Canada have not dropped as the Canadian dollar has gained strength. Our dollar is now more valuable than the US dollar but our book prices are still between 20 and 30 percent higher. The most drastic price differences can be found in hardcover books.

In 2009 I started teaching a science fiction writing course, and I approached the notion of sending more sf writers out into the uncertain world with some trepidation. I don’t know what’s changed between 2009 and 2010, but now I think that sheer uncertainty I faced in 2009 is more a strength than a weakness. Last year I told my students, “There has never been a better time to write science fiction,” and I say it with full conviction. Whether that translates into “sufficient remuneration” is another matter, but has it ever been otherwise except for a select few? If sf is all about facing the future, it’s about time we start acting like we know what we’re talking about (as many of my colleagues already have, and wonderfully so). “The world is a fantasy . . . so let’s find out about it.” — Dennis Sciama, 1983

Too many zombie & vampire books. Locus continues to be as entertaining and informative as always. After so many years, the poll could stand some re-vamping. Thank you for so much reading and thinking pleasure! Keep on keeping on!!

I’m hoping some of the print-only magazines will make the jump to electronic formats soon. I would read them online, or subscribe to them for my e-reader, if I could–but until then, I’m just not going there, because I don’t like the physical waste of disposable print formats.

As usual, I didn’t vote for any of the SF or F novels or collections, because I haven’t read any them, because virtually all of them are out only on hardback or trade paper, and as you can see above, I NEVER buy either new. I do have a couple of the novels that have come out in mass market (Chill, Starbound) but haven’t read them yet because they are part of series (and I like to have all before reading any – o/w I can’t remember anything and totally lose the continuity). So, as usual, I’ll understand if you don’t give me the free issue, as I didn’t fulfill the requirements. I do still really like Locus; it’s one of the highlights of my month when it comes.

I didn’t vote for short form nominees. I’ve only read novels this year and I didn’t read many at that. I read much more non fiction this year (I’m a historian). There are so many paranormal and media tie-in books on the shelf at the bookstores and libraries that I’m grateful for the Locus reviews to steer me through. My three sons are in elementary school now and starting to enjoy series fiction, so I will have to start paying more attention to the explosion of YA choices. Thanks for the great magazine each month. Now that you all have gone digital, I’m going to look into the subscription for the iPad. I used to be able to read the small print in Locus, but now the reading glasses come out as soon as I get the envelope opened. I started reading Locus in 1993 right out of graduate school–my eyes were much younger then!

I find that a year where I’m revisiting good writers continuing the stories they never meant to turn into a series (Willis, Butcher, Flint) isn’t a bad year. No breakthroughs, but good. Keep up the good work.

Last year seemed to be the year of “games”. This year looks to be the year of “ghosts.” I read STACKS of comix and graphic novels throughout the year and always am looking for more. The Starcraft Frontlines were some of the best media fiction I’ve read in a very, very long time – particularly Grace Randolph’s story “Newsworthy” – and my friend will soon lend me his stacks of Transformers comix. That, and webcomics. Truly, we live in the golden age of geekery in all its crazy wondrous forms and styles.

A.) I may have been a subscriber, once upon a time, but I had so many subscriptions back then that I can’t recall for certain. B.) I also first started reading scifi when I was ten, just in case my age and the number of years that I’ve read scifi causes some confusion. C.) The only reason I don’t read more scifi than fantasy is the difficulty in finding decent scifi versus the present deluge of fantasy. I’d prefer to see a better balance of scifi to fantasy on the market. D.) Although I’ve never been to a scifi convention I used to attend many anime conventions.

Current State of Locus:

Locus is doing a wonderful job of carrying on what Charles Brown started and expanding on it. Still the best of intelligent entertainment! I couldn’t keep up with SF without Locus! Glad to see you branching out into electronic/digital versions. When I had trouble with a couple of issues (one missing, one full of duplicate/missing page), I received fast, excellent personal service from your staff! Keep up the good work!

Thanks again for all your hard work!

Congratulations on a smooth transition.

As I am frequently overwhelmed by the sheer number of books clamoring for my attention, I find the “New and Notable Books” roundup at the back of each issue to be most helpful. I would ask that the sometimes unattributed value judgments there include the name of the reviewer. Instead of waiting for the wonderful “year in review” issue, it would be helpful to look back at what are the best books of the quarter, with a similar mix of editors and reviewers. It could be done in a round-table discussion format.

Locus is my foundation for understanding the genre through the years. Gary K. Wolfe is my bellwether for new books and I really like arguing with Gary Sleight over his comments on the classics. Now that Gardner Dozois is on hand with Short Fiction – I feel almost fulfilled! Thanks.

Most of the new hardcovers I buy are Russian books, trade pb price in the U.S. – aside from remainders, I almost never buy U.S. new hardcover sf, but the local public library is good. Locus remains good enough that I keep renewing, but I think about it. I HATE Terry Bisson’s fillos, and I think Locus spreads its coverage over too many fields. I would prefer more of a focus on written sf.

The only change I would make to Locus is a few more reviews of science fiction books of the fun, grand adventure sort, such as, Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet series and Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen series.

I can’t make up my mind if I like this survey format or the one using “pull downs”, but they’re both fairly simple to do. I also want to tell the staff that they’ve done a great job in carrying on this magazine, after the loss of Charles. I particularly like that the magazine isn’t slavishly following the format that was in effect, and that the staff is exploring new approaches.

Returned to Locus due to the online availability/lower price, so thanks for that. (Picked it up occasionally many years ago from a bookstore.) It’s helped me reconnect to what’s going on in SF, after sporadic SF reading from the late ’80s on (following voracious consumption in from the mid-70s to early 80s). Reviews and interviews are greatly appreciated, and would love to see some of those “literary essays”, if that becomes possible! P.S. For your poll, you should add an ebook category to the “books bought” question. They are most of my purchases now, and a great space-saver for someone with too many books…!

You folks continue to rock! Keep up the great work. I am very happy that Locus has continued at such a high level after Mr. Brown’s passing.

Keep up the great work! Love the magazine, love the website.

Keep up the GOOD work!

There is too much published, uploaded, recorded, etc., every month to keep up with, which makes Locus and Locus Online that much more important: reviews you can trust and the editors’ choices of what to review. In addition, since I don’t have time to read even all of Locus, I sometimes consider my subscription to print mag a donation to a good cause; mostly I consider the subsc a pleasure for the work: Wolfe reviews, Doctorow rants, interviews, and a few bits of relevant news.

I really enjoy LOCUS, especially the book reviews and the author interviews.

Include more middle grade and especially YA material.

I depend on Locus to stay up on the science fiction world.

Keep up the good work. Charles Brown’s legacy is in good hands.

I’m a long-time fan of Locus, but this is the first time I’ve voted on the Locus awards. Thanks for such a great magazine. I usual read it at the Library.

Keep going and thanks for the great work! Also really big thanks for digital subscriptions – I had had to lapse the print subscription because of budget restraints, but the digital is affordable – and so much faster in Amsterdam, the Netherlands!!!

Keep up the good work!

Counting subscriber votes twice is dishonest.

Would love to subscribe to the e-edition but find it way (honesty offensively) overpriced.

Hello, This form intentionally left blank. I choose not to vote in the Locus awards so long as my vote, as a non-subscriber, only counts for half.

Glad to see Locus is carrying on, in the finest tradition of the Hawaiian Shirt-Wearers Association!

Brilliant job…Charles would be proud imho.

Still enjoy reading Locus after all these years, even though F/SF does not make up the majority of my reading. Love the reviews.

Please, fewer spoilers in the reviews. Otherwise, thanks for the great work you do.

The mag has not skipped a beat since the death of Charles M. Brown: excellent work. Especially good were the issues devoted to digital SF and Steampunk. I can’t praise those issues enough for being full of great information and thought provoking content: all that and the usual good stuff, too. Rock on, Locus Staff, rock on!

You guys are awesome! Please never go away.

As happens every year too many books, so little time! Glad to see that Locus is in good hands after Charles’ death.

Keep up the good work!

Thank you! I work for a public library & use Locus to select our F & SF. I especially appreciate info about authors. Saw note about your poll on Sharon Lee’s blog.

A wonderful magazine. Keeps you updated on the scifi scene. As a struggling writer, the magazine motivates.

Locus Online is really indispensible. Keep up the great work Mark!

I always enjoy LOCUS! I like all the news and book reviews and interviews and etc. I don’t always get to read as much as I’d like of the recommended books, so don’t feel as confident about voting in the poll, but I DO support the science fiction community!!

Thanks a lot for the quality of your publication that allow me to choose among the vast amount of American SFandF published what to read (I’m a poor lonesome reader lost in France !)

I love the Locus! I promise I’ll start looking at the website this year.

Faren Miller does great in-depth reviews. I miss seeing her in that role.

I’m waiting for e-readers to get better before I buy one, but thanks for the move to a digital edition, I hate waiting for all the news because I’m overseas.

Just to note that although I’m not a subscriber I’ve been buying Locus faithfully for well over a decade from my local specialist bookstore. Now I could subscribe without going through him but I like supporting the bookstore and the mag. It’s a shame then that I don’t get double voting rights like other subscribers even though I feel I “pay my dues”.

Locus is THE source for my SF/Fantasy news.

Locus is key source of info for me on the world of speculative fiction. Keep up the good work.

I look forward to the quarterly list of upcoming books; then I reserve the ones I am interested in at the library. I am not buying as many books as I did in previous years -no place to keep them. Also like reading the reviews in Locus and the “People & Publishing” sections.

I really enjoy reading your interviews with working writers every month. Keep up the good work.

What We Should Have Asked About on the Survey:

Why aren’t e-books listed as a separate category? Most of the books I buy these days are in e-book form.

I think you should consider adding a podcast category. I enjoy listening to the Coode Street Podcast — and it was Gary and Jonathan who were urging people to cast ballots no matter how much new stuff they read. For me, that wasn’t very much this year. As for the magazine, I enjoy Graham Sleight’s retrospective reviews.

The questions could do with an update. In particular the book format questions should include ebooks.

I get the majority of my books as e-books, so the paperback/hardback questions are a bit dated, and based on last year. Also, most of my genre related reading is various online blogs, which don’t quite seem to fit in magazine (though online magazines are there) and its not really clear whether they’d make a relevant write-in or not.

I’m back with Locus after I stopped subscribing to for a couple of years after being a long-time subscriber and a regular reader of issues bought at book store since 1979. My convention-going (WC’s & WFC’s mostly since 1997) has been sharply curtailed lately -due mostly to my personal need to reduce flying for my carbon footprint since I’m not doing SF&F art shows anymore to justify it. I’ve only flown once in the past two years and used to fly 4-5X with half of those for SF&F cons. (I live in FL; I rarely can take the time to drive to a decent con. I went to MegaCon in Orlando under protest…) So I really felt I was missing out. Locus is one way to stay connected to the SF&F **reading** community (as opposed to other media, which is everywhere…) w/o going to a convention. Your book reviews and end-of-year reviews are still essential reading and weigh heavily on my book-purchasing decisions. One reason I went to the Kindle as an early adopter was to reduce paperback clutter and to support my favorite writers by purchasing rather than borrowing and buying used books. One thing that’s absent from your survey is the number of ebooks purchased; Essentially, I buy ebooks instead of paperbacks now and the number I entered in the survey in that section reflects that. Hardbacks and trades I bought as exactly as those formats. Locus Online is also a great resource for up to the minute news and so I cheerfully re-upped when you offered the digital version this year, which I now read on my Kindle DX and will try the Ipad version next. Thanks for going that route!

I mostly purchase ebooks, or borrow from my local Library.

On the poll: I’m buying the majority of my fiction as e-books (Kindle) these days, because being able to increase the font size on an e-reader allows me to read three or four times as much as I could otherwise. I still buy and read pb/hc editions when that’s all I can get, but if a Kindle edition is available, that’s what I buy. I was really surprised that the poll isn’t yet asking about the number of e-books we purchase. Given all the dialogue (and hype) about the future of printed books, I’d think data on e-book purchases would be interesting to both readers and advertisers. (Also, it just feels strange and wrong to report in the poll that I’m buying no more than a dozen new books per month, when the reality is closer to three times that, if you include electronic editions.)

This wasn’t a choice under “Where do you buy most of your used fiction,” but I think in this economy it probably should be: I get much of my collection from my local library’s bi-annual book sale (which includes donated books, not just used library copies). I’ve gotten wonderful selections there, most in good condition, often things I’ve been looking for but couldn’t afford to buy new (including hardcovers). It’s a great way to support my local library and increase my private library, for not a lot of money. Thanks!

Most of the books I buy now are for the e-reader although there are still some I pick up in Trade or Paperback.

I buy 100% of my books in ebook (Kindle) format now due to failing eyesight, convenience, cost, storage, etc. I found it a little strange that your poll didn’t ask about my ebook purchase habits. Aren’t you even remotely interested in whether your readers are buying ebooks?

Other things of note not entirely reflected in the poll: – I swap a lot of books on paperbackswap – I would subscribe to print magazines like Asimov’s & Analog but they can only be subscribed to via Kindle device, not Kindle for computer. – I also sometimes purchase ebooks of Fantasy, Lightspeed & Clarkesworld. – I only started subscribing to Locus when it became offered digitally. – I get a lot of my sci fi news from author blogs & twitter.

Still loving Locus. Maybe ask about blogs people follow? I read lots of author blogs.

You didn’t ask how many e-books per month/year I bought. So you are only getting a small fraction of my purchases represented in the poll.

This year I’ve purchased all of my books on the Kindle, but in the perfect life (aka when I settle down and have a permanent city to live in), I’d support a local bookstore, pick up paperbacks when I can, and buy my absolute favourite books in hardcover.

Poll needs to be updated to include digital novel purchases. Can’t fit anymore books in my apt. so new books are mostly purchased for the Kindle. Also, I’ve seen about five or six movies in the theater this year, which is less than your second option and more than your first.

Ask about e-book purchases next year–that’s where most of my sci-fi purchases come from.

I have bought over 30 ebooks in the last month alone. Your buying habits poll needs to change to reflect it. It currently makes it look like I bought no books, when I have bought 72 ebooks in the last year, but none in print.

The effects of ebooks on my responses are interesting (to me, anyway). I’ve almost made the transition from buying mostly hardbacks to buying mostly ebooks for Kindle, hence I’ve ceased considering myself a collector. I will still buy the hardback if: I am part-way through a series that I already own half+; I love the cover art; the book itself is lovely or has interior illustrations, charts, or photos. You really need to add a question about how many ebooks one purchases per month and year. I’ve been reading more, as I find it much easier to read on the Kindle (older eyes like the variable type size, and the FLAT surface). A recent tornado warning revealed the shift in family values: I grabbed shoes, a ruana with a hood, my purse (which contained my wallet and my smart phone), and my Kindle, and I was ready to walk away from the ruins if necessary. My husband grabbed his laptop, his phone, his Kindle, and shoes. We spent the scary half hour engaged with technology: my husband watched the radar map of the storm; I played backgammon on my Kindle. Who needs a flying car or a jetpack? I can carry a library’s worth of books in my purse! And Locus! And games! I love the electronic version of Locus, by the way. I find that easier to read on my Kindle as well.

I buy tons of ebooks but you didn’t have that category listed!

You should ask how many ebooks I buy. I only buy paper books if they’re not available as ebooks which skewed the numbers low.

I read 25+ books per month on my e-reader. Very few hardcover or paperback. Surprised you didn’t have a question on that.

Number of books (hardcover, paperbacks, etc.) I buy has decreased significantly since I got an e-reader, as new digital books are usually available earlier and at a lower cost than just-published hardcovers, and having them in digital form means I can continue to keep all my books without being forced out of my house by the overflowing bookshelves.

While I have been reading SF/F for 55+ years, I’ve never developed a taste for short stories (too short) or for horror/dark fantasy. Also, most of the “paperbacks” I buy actually are ebooks; chemical sensitivities put a limit on how many paper books I can read.

RE: How many hardcover, trade, paperbacks do I buy? I’m am almost totally Kindle converted. I bought over 30 e-books from Amazon last year and only 3 hardcover because I just couldn’t wait for the e-books. I suggest you add “How many e-books did you buy? And maybe for what platform–Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.

You ask how many hardcover or trade paperbacks we buy, but not how many “kindle” editions – and I find that I now buy more Kindles than others…

I am now exclusively buying e-books. You should reflect this on your poll. As a matter of fact I was the first subscriber to the digital edition of Locus!

Most of the new books I’m buying are from Amazon for my Kindle.

Need to ask how many e-books one purchases. They make up a significant percentage of my new book purchases.

I buy at least 5-10 ebooks per month, and at least 3 audiobooks. These were not asked about. These are more accessible to me, being legally blind.

You left out ebook. I buy 2-4 ebooks per month, I’m out of space for paper backs and hardbacks, so I buy ebooks instead.

I no longer buy paper books if I can avoid it. I now prefer e-books (for the Kindle or iPad depending on which formats are available). Until July last year, I bought about 12 hardbacks and 4 paperbacks per month. You might consider adding e-book sales to next year’s survey. The digital edition of Locus is excellent and much appreciated. As a UK subscriber I now get my copy on the first of the month and I can enlarge the font to read it easily. When renewal time comes around I will definitely be changing to the digital format.

You should ask about reading ebooks on other devices. I’ve used a Sony PSP and now my smartphone so I don’t feel the need to get a dedicated ereader.

Big E-book shift this year. I have a 4,000 vol home library, and the last six months of last year I bought 90% of new reading on the Ipad. 10 years from now paper books will have the market share of clay tablets.

I was surprised that of the markets nominated so few were podcast fiction. I consume 3/4 of my short fiction as audio fiction by subscribing to various short fiction podcasts, a few of which I wrote in for the poll. It might be a good feather in Locus’ cap to start paying more attention to audio fiction, including in your market reviews of short fiction.

You did not ask about e-books. I buy 5-9 per month.

All of my book purchases are now via my Kindle DX. The poll seems have the assumption that books are being purchased hard copy.

I think it might be time to add e-books to the how many you purchase questions.

I buy everything to my Kindle, why the question about Hardcover is no longer relevant.

So glad ebooks came along. Physical space to store our collection was becoming a problem and with backlit readers I can read at night without disturbing my husband. Now the format issue with DRM ebooks needs resolved so when you change devices to one with a different format that you don’t have to rebuy your ebooks in new format! Only Baen as a publisher and a few other specific titles sell books in all formats which is as it should be.

You need to add a category for “how many e-books do you buy” to the poll. Most of the books I’ve bought in the past year have been electronic, since I no longer have room to add many paper books to my collection. For some reason, I haven’t read much SF/F this year – mostly just new entries in continuing series.

I had to put 0 for number of hardcovers and paperbacks. Because of my disabled condition (stroke, paralyzed right hand) I cannot hold a physical book and turn pages. I therefore only get ebooks. I get more than 100 new ebooks each month. You should list ebooks as well as hardcovers and paperbacks on next year’s poll. Thank you for finally offering a digital edition so I can again be a Locus subscriber.

I don’t get to see enough current sf to vote in the poll, we’re too far out of the loop over here. For the same reason, the current sf I do see is generally sourced online, but I tend to prefer audio (most of the current short sf I “read” comes from sites like Escape Pod). Perhaps you should add some questions to the survey about listening habits, you don’t really deal with this at all, and audio fiction has become a major part of publishing. E-books are a problem outside the UK and the US, because of DRM and cross-border copyright issues. I would be using e-books a lot if I could be sure that publishers will allow me to download the books I need/want. Right now, I am reluctant to invest in the hardware, when I’m not sure what I will be permitted to download. One last point: thank you very much for making the digital version of Locus available to international subscribers. This is a great idea.

Why We Asked What We Did on the Survey:

I wish you wouldn’t ask my age, unless to establish that I’m over 18. In an industry where age bias is rampant, why would you want to get me to reveal how old I am?

I regret that there was no time frame for many questions: eg., subjects that I once was but am no longer interested in; sf magazines which I once subscribed to but no longer. At 70, and an sf reader since 1950, I have done/read/watched many of these forms. My answers describe what THIS PARTICULAR YEAR I read, watched, and participated in. It’s been a very limited year!

Misplaced my subscription number, oh, well. Just thought that this year I would actually try to respond to the poll at all, even though I have read a grand total of 9 books that were published in 2010. I don’t particularly force myself to keep up with what’s current, and I’m not sure about the validity of polling the popularity of books among people who do, but I suppose there’s not much of a better way to do it. What are “Heroes” and “Lost” still doing on the poll? I still dig “Lost”, but it’s over, and so is “Heroes”, isn’t it? You might want to add a “webcomics” checkbox on the list, too. Also, maybe how many people write? Or even did National Novel Writing Month? I used to read short fiction too, but I’ve mostly abandoned it; it just doesn’t grab me much anymore.

About your survey: whoever creates the online version needs to be made aware of the existence of radio buttons. They’re very handy for multiple-choice questions where the user should only pick one answer. I am amused by your use of a text box for inputting gender. I am actually female, not Dalek, but I wanted to make a point. :p

Some of the questions are a little too intrusive for this type of poll.

I think the potential nominees pool is unfortunately restricted and I don’t understand the absence of the publications I wrote in. Hopefully in future years this can be corrected.

Might want to update the “online publications do you read regularly’ question next year; my understanding is that Baen’s Universe and IROSF are pretty well defunct.

Woa, dude. Way too many survey questions.

This poll had a surprising number of books I’d never heard of on it, and lacked several I would have expected – especially Baen publications, for some reason.

Both of my full time occupations Scientist and parent should be listed as occupational choices. ANALOG seems to get the once over short swift from Locus More attention should be paid to it.

Some categories in the poll seem fairly out of date – many of the shows mentioned are no longer on the air, and the online magazines don’t seem to be current either. You could definitely benefit from a write-in box for related subjects, to get some responses on what the current new things are that readers are interested in. You could also include an option under movie watching for people who (legitimately or otherwise) download the movies they watch. That would be interesting. A marital option for being de facto would be appreciated – I always tick married because it’s the closest equivalent, but I dislike having to do so, and think it’s very old fashioned to be dividing people between ‘married’ and single’. And no, ‘other’ is not an acceptable alternative. It’s not exactly unusual for couples to live together without marriage – or is it? You won’t know without having an option in the poll!

Editorial responses: 1) We ask a lot of questions to create a profile of our audience, in part to lure potential advertisers, in part so we can compare results to those from past years. Individual responses are never identified by name. 2) We leave candidate magazines, TV shows, etc., as options as long as they appeared at all in the eligibility year (2010), even though by the time of the poll they may have been long expired. 3) We know about radio buttons. If you can select more than one option for a question, that’s allowed.

Other Suggestions:

It is time for a new/updated ‘All-Time’. It provides essential information for book collecting, reading lists, and so forth. It has been over ten years since the previous compilation. Please.

If possible, in your yearly roundup for voting, would it be possible to note which SF/Fantasy movies came out in that year? While not a part of the Locus poll it would make nominating for the Hugos easier.

At the top of the poll you ask for our subscriber number, but nowhere else do you ask about your magazine. I buy it regularly through my comic shop, so yes I am a reader (and buyer). You ask if we get our news online. Yes I read news online, but I also read the LA Times daily. Just the online result would be very misleading…

Suggest coming up with a better term than “mainstream fiction” to describe all non-genre books. Maybe just “non-genre fiction”? There’s quite a lot of interesting work out there that isn’t sf/mystery/romance etc, without really fitting into any but the most jaded definitions of “mainstream”. I know it’s a practical term, but it’s still kind of annoying.

Locus, I wouldn’t mind seeing more coverage and reviews of media related fiction. There are some enjoyable Star Trek and Dr Who novels being published and I wish those efforts were not falling on deaf ears (and eyes) by the genres most revered critical source. Otherwise, keep up the great work. PS. Enough with the Steampunk already.

I would be interested in a question about Republican/Democrat/Independent next year.

I answered “No” to “Does SF form the major part of your pleasure reading?” on the premise that you weren’t including fantasy and paranormal romance in SF; I’m not sure whether that is accurate. In “how many per month” questions, there should be an answer between Zero and One; e.g. “fewer than 1.” Answering “1-2 per month” would exaggerate the number of movies I see in theaters, but “0,” which I marked, gives the false impression that I never watch movies in theaters.

It seems to me that the editor and artist awards should be separated into pro and non-pro (or semi-pro or whatever) categories.

Given the proliferation of fiction and fandom podcast, I would be interested to see data gathered about them as their own category. Fiction podcasts would include StarShipSofa, EscapePod, PodCastle, PseudoPod, the Drabblecast, the Clarkesworld podcast, the Lightspeed podcast, the Tor.com podcast, Transmissions from Beyond, &c. Fandom podcasts could include SF Signal, Geeks Guide to the Galaxy, Adventures in Scifi Publishing, I Should Be Writing, Writing Excuses, &c.

You left out TV shows on DVD as an interest option, particularly old TV, including SF. Also, with a library of about 7000 books, about half unread, I rarely get to this year’s books until several years down the road. Hence the unbearable blankness of the poll. Sorry.

Time for another all-time poll! I know it’s a pain for you, but it’s so much fun for us readers. Thanks for Locus.

Related subjects you are interested in: Classical Literature

Since you’re in a position to do so, having all the data, it would be nice if along with your recommended list, you also published online a complete list of all new SF and fantasy and YA SF/Fantasy books published each year. It’s easy to forget that a particular book was new, or NOT new, during the eligibility period. It would be a great service to lesser-known writers and to those of us with bad/aging memories, and would make Locusmag.com the go-to resource for ALL the awards in a year. (I use similar movies-this-year sites when nominating for Writers Guild awards.)

Could have a digital subscription to ‘print’ magazine category.

Editorial responses: 1) All-time poll, or polls: we’ll get to them, possibly later this year. 2) Lists of movies: probably not. Locus is still book-oriented; lots of other publications cover movies and TV. 3) Complete lists of published SF/F: we have close to such a thing on the website already, and have had for a decade: annual ‘Directory’ lists (e.g. 2010); they include all books reviewed in the magazine, all titles appearing on our bestseller list or any of those we track, and all books listed on the website’s weekly ‘new books’ pages. 4) Other ideas: we’ll keep them in mind, and think about them again when we update the poll and survey forms next year. Thanks for everyone’s comments.

Comments

Comment from Hal Hall
Time July 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

Good Day:
Locus has created a valuable resource in the “Locus Survey” data. It would be a service for you to compile all that data and release it as a book, that might be more widely accessible than the annual listings in Locus. You might consider depositing one copy in the top 20 SF research collections, as SFRA did with their Pilgrim Award compilation.
Hal Hall

Comment from james
Time July 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

As you found in your survey, there is an elephant in your review room. Books sales are exceeding paper books on Amazon and elsewhere. Take a close look at Borders Books demise. They could not here the digital music nor see the Perl writing on the Kindle screen. Full disclosure: I am a former journalist who just epublished an urban fantasy/scifi thrille on all platforms.Holotar. Last Queen of the White Shamans. It was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest in Science Fiction and has hit as hight as 14153 9″ Amazon’s ranking with five star reviews- and yet it is not even eligible for a Locus review or consideration for awards. Locus is about futuristic thinking and still the holy grail of genre fiction. But as Borders just learned, survival of the fittest requires adaption and natural selection. I hope to see the Locus I grew up with open its doors to authors and readers of the future. A fan, james

Comment from back seat astronaut
Time July 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Wow. Whenever I used to hear people worrying that “the book” was going to disappear due to digital technologies, I thought “Yeah yeah, people probably said books were going to disappear when movies were invented, and again when TV was invented, and so on for each new technology, and it’s never actually happened. Books will be fine.” Now, after reading the comments above, I’m suddenly terrified that books are on their way out! I hate reading on screens. I like reading on paper. I’m gonna be really sad when nobody prints books anymore because ebooks are “where the money is.”


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