Sixpenny Magazine: a new journal of illustrated fiction

We at Electric Literature are always interested in combining fiction with digital innovation, so were excited to hear about Sixpenny Magazine, a new journal of “illustrated stories for your pocket.” Sixpenny takes it’s name from the “everyman” sixpence magazines of yore, but adapts the format for the digital times. Each story takes six minutes to read, and the first issue will have work from Bill Roorbach, Judy Chicurel, Max Allbee, and more. The magazine launches on March 1st with an event at NYC’s Bowery Poetry Club.

We asked publisher Kate Thomas a few questions about the journal:

What motivated you to start Sixpenny?

Elizabeth [Leonard] and I wanted to have something to read on a smartphone that wouldn’t make us feel dirty after we read it, like more Kardashian news for example. We wanted something that would bring substance to the in-between parts of our days and we love literary fiction and I love graphic novels. We wanted something that was inclusive and far-reaching, and everything brewed together to make Sixpenny. Every story takes about six minutes to read.

What role do you see the magazine having in the literary world?

We’d like to see literary fiction be subject to a broader criticism, outside of the literary and academic world. I do a short story book club with my non-writer friends and it works really well for a busy lifestyle, but initially it was difficult for my friends to feel as if their opinion was worthwhile because they didn’t have much experience with short fiction. There was an “otherness” about short stories that I’d like to see go away with Sixpenny, because literary fiction is such a life enriching thing and I think everyone could use more of it.

What is the difference between the digital and the print editions?

The digital edition works on a “choose-your-own” subscription price basis and all the profits are shared equally by the writers, illustrators, and founding editors of Sixpenny — about 14 people. We do not have advertisements, because we want a totally immersive experience. At the end of each story, the writers and illustrators discuss their inspirations for the story and there is a discussion area for the readers too so it becomes a little short story “book club” community. The idea is that the readers become a part of our co-operative magazine and are invested in making it what they want it to be. We also like the idea of artists being paid for their work!

We have a limited edition print run because we love print, just a real tactile desire for it. It’s also pocket sized, 5.5 by 6 inches, and has unnecessary gold foil because it’s beautiful. It’s not a money maker for sure.

We will also be doing a maker edition so that people can print out their own magazine using folded letter or A4 paper and turn it into works of literary art, by using paper engineering for example, or altering the text.

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