Magazine article Newsweek

Not the Same Ol' Story

Magazine article Newsweek

Not the Same Ol' Story

Article excerpt

Byline: --Bret Begun

It doesn't take an M.F.A. to figure out the content of a literary journal named One Story. Subscribers get--that's right!--one story mailed to them every three weeks. It's a paperback work of fiction that's 20-odd pages long, which allows you to say that you subscribe to a lit journal--and that you read it too. About 1,000 people can make this claim so far, with 30 to 50 eager readers signing on each week. Not bad for a tiny publication in a business with a whopping failure rate. "For all of our start-up costs, it's now pretty much holding its own," says One Story publisher Maribeth Batcha. "Our readers have said they tear the envelope open and read it like it's a letter from a friend." Subscribers to quarterlies have traditionally anticipated the next installment the way you do an AmEx bill. "Most lit magazines are like castor oil," says Rob Spillman, of three-year-old Tin House. "They're bland and supposed to be good for you. …

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