Tin House, the Portland-based publishing company that strengthened Oregon’s literary profile, will end its printed magazine next year.
The move was announced with a tweet Thursday, stating that the 20th-anniversary issue, due to publish in June, will be its last.
The magazine, which published its first issue in 1999, has been a home for many kinds of writers but became widely recognized for championing emerging fiction writers and poets. Its pages include well-established talents such as Richard Ford, Marilynne Robinson, Miranda July, Tommy Pico and Fatimah Asghar.
Publisher Win McCormack said in a written statement: "Given the current costs of producing a literary magazine, I have decided to shift resources to Tin House’s other two divisions: Tin House Books and the Tin House Workshop...We will continue to publish original fiction, nonfiction, and poetry online at tinhouse.com, with a focus on new voices, a cause the magazine championed throughout its 20 year history."
Editor Rob Spillman, based in New York, also contributed to the statement, saying: "Twenty years feels like the right time to be stepping away and moving on to new adventures. I look forward to focusing on other opportunities at the intersection of art and activism."
Deputy editor Holly MacArthur said the decision was not made in a hurry.
“We decided that a 20-year anniversary would be a good time to call it a day. We’ve had an amazing run.”
McCormack bought the “New Republic” magazine two years ago. MacArthur confirmed, “that’s costing money." And magazines continue to be an expensive proposition to produce. Paper costs are on the rise across the U.S., and she adds the company has been increasing salaries to retain staff and made the decision to pay its interns.
“All those started adding up to make things a little tight,” she said.
Tin House will continue publishing books and conducting the workshops that have become a nationally-recognized literary salon, both of which are profitable.
MacArthur called 2018 a moment to “quit while we’re ahead”.
Some staffers involved in the magazine’s art direction will stay on to work on Tin House’s book offerings. Spillman and one other staffer in New York will not stay on. At least two other staffers in Portland will depart after the 80th issue publishes next summer. Some contributors, like poetry editor Camille T. Dungy, were engaged on a freelance basis.
The magazine’s exit marks the end of a powerful brand.
Jane Friedman, a publishing consultant based in Charlottesville, Virginia, said the announcement came as a surprise.
“The Tin House journal was one of the very few that had a very recognizable style aesthetic, mission, editors. It was very consistent and stable for 20 years,” Friedman said. She notes the magazine’s circulation statements showed relatively steady numbers in recent years, with subscribership around 10,500-11,000.
While some publishers might have turned to a marketing push or crowdfunding to deal with rising costs, Friedman said she wonders if there’s a desire among McCormack and the editors to move on.
“Maybe we should see this as the next evolution of a really strong brand.”
MacArthur, Tin House's deputy editor, said the final issue will be a big one, including some of the many and varied Tin House alumni.
“We loved having Stephen King’s first poetry, Ursula K. LeGuin’s last story, but our favorite thing was finding new writers. We really were thrilled when we found a story and read it and say, ‘Oh my gosh, this person’s never been published.'”