The Fate of Fate

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 11, 2008 — 1 Comment

The Minnesota Star Tribune does a charming profile of venerable UFO/occult/Fortean magazine Fate, interviewing editor Phyllis Galde about the magazine’s storied past and (somewhat uncertain) future.

Fate Cover from 1950

Fate cover from 1950.

“At first glance, Fate looks like a pulp-era throwback, which, in many ways, it is. Even when the cover doesn’t feature an image recycled from a Cold War-heyday issue, Fate leaves a decidedly retro impression. While most magazines have become increasingly visual, Fate sticks with its small, type-heavy basic layout and reader-submitted mug shots. Fate was born in 1948 Chicago, the creation of former “Amazing Stories” editor Ray Palmer, who is said to have spun the first UFO hoax. The magazine was sold in 1988 to Llewellyn, a St. Paul-based publisher specializing in New Age and occult titles. Galde, a former Lllewellyn editor, bought it in 2001.”

While Fate has an extremely loyal readership, it is also a shrinking one. Their subscriptions have halved in the last ten years, they’ve gone from monthly to bimonthly, and a large percentage of their subscribers are elderly (Galde quips that it is “the last thing people give up before they go to the nursing home”). Despite these setbacks, Galde is optimistic that the magazine will pick up new readers interested in hauntings, energy vortexes, and aliens.

“Galde said that 600 new subscriptions (some from lapsed former subscribers) have come in over the past three months and that the website (www.fatemag.com) gets 750,000 hits a month.”

But can a tiny niche magazine like Fate (or other Pagan/metaphysical/New Age publications for that matter) survive in our troubled economy? When so many magazines are going under that there can be a regularly updated blog about it, and when print institutions like Time, Newsweek, and the Christian Science Monitor are bleeding money, jobs, and undergoing drastic format changes is it only a matter of time before we start seeing the after-shocks among “our” titles? When even the normally recession-proof New Age community is taking a hit, Pagan magazine editors and business owners have to be a little worried.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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