Editorial from #8

Photograph by Alan Weedon

IN 2004, I CLAIMED I would never watch a movie on a laptop computer. When I first started The Suburban Review it was a stapled-together pamphlet and at every launch a part of me would pine for a spine, a perfectly bound glossy cover, a feeling of weight.

To have it in my hands, I radically transformed the structure of the magazine, rolling together print budgets into one annual issue and spending the rest of the year concentrating on publishing content on our website. Contributors praised me for my commitment to print in an industry that was increasingly turning digital. Any mention of e-books or e-journals was most often met with a vaguely disgusted sneer.

The thing about website content is that it’s free. Without funding or advertising dollars, we spent two years publishing writing online, paying nothing and earning nothing. We judged the success of the writing by how many clicks and shares we received on social media. And we paid the social media giants to promote that content, to get more clicks and shares.

Our fully paid print issues came out each year, funded mostly by Pozible campaigns. I was invited to speak about the future of print at the NGV art book fair. When the panel was asked ‘Why print?’ my esteemed colleagues had wonderful, relevant answers. Me? The only answer I could think of was prestige. When I got home I opened my bedroom wardrobe and was confronted by boxes and boxes of prestige.

So, I called a staff meeting. We decided to never give away anything for free and to pay every contributor we will ever publish.

It’s 2017 and I have signed up to four different movie-streaming services. The Suburban Review is now a quarterly e-journal.