Online magazine


An online magazine is a magazine that is delivered in an electronic form. An online magazine may be online-only, or may be the online version of an otherwise print-published magazine. Today, most online magazines are Internet websites.

An online magazine that caters to a niche or special interest subject matter, i.e. a zine, is referred to as an ezine (usually pronounced "e-zeen"). An ezine that appears on the World Wide Web is called a webzine, although webzine may also refer to all online magazines. Other names include cyberzine and hyperzine. For web sites that represent an existing print magazine, the web site is usually referred to as " Online", whereas an online only magazine is often titled " Online Magazine".


A webzine tends to be published on a regulated basis (weekly, biweekly, monthly) and may maintain an editorial control system. A distinguishing characteristic from blogs is that webzines bypass the strict adherence to the reverse-chronological format; the front page is mostly clickable headlines and is laid out either manually on a periodic basis, or automatically based on the story type.


Today, the majority of online magazines use a website. Historically, the first e-zines were delivered on electronic media such as CD-ROM by mail; this is now relatively rare. There are some publishers that publish with an online presence that is archived on to CDs at the end of the publishing year as a volume and distributed through postal mail.

There are also subscription newsletters delivered by e-mail. Most modern online magazines use websites, and often offer e-mail subscription to either notify the subscriber of updated content, or in some cases, send the content itself.

Sometimes you can deliver them in the mail as an interactive CD-ROM.

Business model

Many general interest online magazines provide free access to all aspects of their online content although some publishers have opted to require a subscription fee to access premium online article and/or multi-media content. Online magazines generate revenue based on targeted search ads to web-site visitors, banner ads (online display advertising), affiliate links, online classified ads, product-purchase capabilities, advertiser directory links, or alternative informational/commercial purpose.

Many large print-publishers now provide digital reproduction of their print magazine titles through various online services for a fee. These service providers also refer to their collections of these digital format products as online magazines.

The original ezines and diskmags, due to their low cost and initial non-mainstream targets, may be seen as a disruptive technology to traditional publishing houses.


Cult of the Dead Cow claims to have published the first ezine, starting in 1984, with its ezine still in production more than 20 years later. While this claim is hotly debated, ezines certainly began in the BBS days of the 1980s. Phrack began publication in 1985 and, unlike Cult of the Dead Cow which publishes articles individually, Phrack published collections of articles in a manner more similar to a print magazine. The collaborative fiction webzine DargonZine had its origins on the BITNET academic network in 1984 and continues to be published to this day.


In the late 1990s Ezine publishers began adapting to the interactive qualities of the Internet instead of duplicating magazines on the web. Some of these attempts included Kafenio and Zone451 (now renamed JustSayGo and first published in traditional format in 1995).

Zone 451 originally emerged online as BBS newsletter under the banner ILA Music Reviews (derived from a play on creator Naeem Ali Randhawa's middle name). As the potential of the newly developing World Wide Web became evident, Randhawa enlisted writer and journalist Dylan Young to help develop and expand the project. Together they co-founded Eye-Net Reviews. Eye-Net Reviews was subsequently relaunched in 1996 as Zone451, after Toronto's alternative newspaper, Eye Weekly, sent the webzine a Cease & Desist order citing trademark infringement. In its relaunched form, Zone451 expanded its content and range, covering not only music but film, gaming, poetry and literature, sports, travel, art and food, becoming the Web's first true general interest publication. Zone451's staff also increased beyond its humble beginnings, swelling at its zenith, with Randhawa as Publisher and Young as Editor-in-chief, to as many as 26 writers, photographers, graphic designers, programmers, and sales managers. Zone451 was the first online publication to be accredited by the Montreal Expos and the National Hockey League (NHL)and, between 1996-1997, it was the Internet's most downloaded Web-based literature and travel publication. In 1998, Young left Zone451 to pursue directions in print journalism. Randhawa continued to publish Zone451 and even moved its headquarters from Montreal, Quebec to Dallas, Texas. Once in Dallas, Zone451 became primarily a travel journalism publication and was eventually relaunched once more as

Themestream (2001, now defunct) was another attempt at generating content by opening its pages to everybody who cared to write and get paid by the click. Webseed tried to take up on the idea but to the contrary of Themestream created individual zines. This experiment was terminated shortly after the dot-com crash though some of the zines created are still on the market such as NatureOfAnimals or FranceForFreebooters.

The tendency seems to be that the new concepts of the Ezines go more towards interactive content and those using old fashioned layouts are slowly ceasing publication, such as zinos. These changing trends are in part due to escalating problems getting ezines past ever-more-vigilant spam filters and to the increasing popularity of weblogs (blogs). Many established ezines have now become little more than teasers for web-based versions, or for blog versions that provide greater interaction.

However, a Canadian magazine that has consistently published since 1999 is Writer's Cramp. WC caught on with international writers and readers in 1999 with its first Hallowe'en Issue, featuring Frank Thayer, Robert Liberty, Ron Carpenter and Richard Mason. It wasn’t long before there was an atmosphere of familiar camaraderie among those writers who returned issue after issue to display their finest works.

Working on a shoestring and spare time, Robert Liberty grew the magazine from 500 hits a month to over a thousand a day, introducing a whole new stable of highly creative writers and poets to the international web magazine audience, and the magazine is still publishing today.

In the 2000s, some webzines began appearing in a printed format to complement their online versions. These included Movie Insider, Slate, Synthesis and Lucire magazines.

Webzine conferences

Between 1998 and 2005, in San Francisco and New York, a series of webzine-focused conferences brought together independent personal online publishers to share their experiences. Started by Srini Kumar, the "Webzine" conferences were continued primarily by filmmaker Ryan Junell and Eddie Codel. Junell has worked to track the history of the early webzine movement through these festivals; his research is linked below. After a hiatus, Codel and Junell organized the return of the Webzine conference to the Bay Area in 2005. Webzine 2005 took place over two days at the Swedish-American Hall in San Francisco. It consisted of three main areas: speakers and panel discussions, workshops and a self-organizing area called the Master's Lounge modeled after BAR Camp. Webzine 2005 was emceed by veteran Webzine emcee Justin Hall, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders.

See also


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