Pressing on: the journals that are sticking to print
Print publications are under increasing pressure, but the editors of the ‘Cork Literary Review’ and ‘The Penny Dreadful’ are confident old-fashioned books will not go away
Print will not disappear, says O’Connell. “There will always be room for both print and digital publishing. People thought the bicycle was going to be threatened by the motor car but now, the bicycle is making a huge comeback.”
Cork-based writers John Keating and Marc O’Connell also remain committed to the print version of their literary journal, The Penny Dreadful, the second issue of which was published recently.
The publication came about by accident as the two men were bemoaning the difficulty of sitting down to practise their craft. They agreed they would each write a story, then photocopy and staple them together in what would be an anonymous pamphlet that they would deposit in coffee shops, libraries and other cultural venues. They included an email address for comments.
Keating and O’Connell received a large number of unsolicited submissions, and so the journal was born. The current issue of emerging and established writers includes a poem by Paul Muldoon. This was the result of Keating running into Muldoon in Cork and hanging out with him.
“John gave him a copy of the magazine. Paul liked it and submitted a poem,” says O’Connell. The journal is named after the cheap, serialised publications that were popular in Victorian England. The journal is “a high-minded venture that takes writing seriously but doesn’t take itself seriously”.
The editors are influenced by literary journals such as The Stinging Fly and The Shop. While The Penny Dreadful is available online, the digital version exists to supplement and promote the printed version.
“It acts as a jumping-off point for selling the magazine [which includes original artwork]. We’re committed to print. The magazine is a product that we sell. But we’re not Luddites. We think the online and print version support one another.”
O’Connell doesn’t think print is going to taper off. “People get very angry at the suggestion that books might cease to exist. I think they’ll continue in the way that vinyl has in the music industry. Print may not necessarily be the principal way that people read, because convenience will probably win out. But I don’t think print is ever going away.”
He adds that a book or journal “is an object that you own. It’s a unique thing which you can keep for the rest of your life. A Kindle book doesn’t have the same visceral quality as a printed one.”