Published 14 January 2009 · Main Posts why Overland is free online Jeff Sparrow In a postscript to her review of Overland 193, Angela Meyer notes: ‘PS: It looks like you can read all of Overland online now. Don’t know how it will help the subscriptions, but it’s all here.’ Her question raises a series of issues with which all literary journals are, one imagines, currently grappling. How should a print journal relate to the web? What does the potential — and the expectations — of the new digital environment mean to the traditional subscription-based models by which the ‘little magazines’ have traditionally been funded? I don’t think anyone’s really got a complete handle on this yet but what follows is the way that we’re thinking about it. Firstly, the web makes writing more accessible. If you are a journal of ideas, then reaching more readers is unequivocally A Good Thing. More people have probably now read Antony Loewenstein’s essay for Overland 193 on screen than in the print edition. Those extra readers are something to be celebrated, not to be frightened of. Secondly, reading – particularly reading intensely – is an aesthetic experience. Despite all the wonders of the intertubes, it’s still more pleasurable to read a nicely designed and typeset page on paper than on screen, particularly if it’s fiction or a long and complicated essay. Most of us use the internet for browsing and we do our serious reading in an armchair or in bed or in the bath – basically, anywhere that gets us away from the computer. That’s why a website can never – at least, not with today’s technology – substitute for a printed journal. Readers who discover Overland online will (we hope!) still want to hold a physical copy in their hands. Thirdly, the digital revolution has already changed the nature of subscribing. For most of the twentieth century, a magazine subscriber was part of an exclusive club: unless you took out a sub, you couldn’t read the particular journal in which you were interested. Today, however, most people can, without too much difficulty, get access to full text versions of most publications (through, say, university or public library databases). Basically, if you don’t want to pay for a journal, you no longer really have to. In that sense, subscribers to Overland are inevitably becoming more like subscribers to public radio stations. You can listen to 3RRR or 3PBS for free but people who really care about what such stations are doing recognise that they should manifest that support by becoming a subscriber. In the case of public radio, the act of subscription becomes an expression of community as much as simply a cash transaction. An Overland sub is a little different (in that you do actually receive four copies of the journal) but it reflects the same sentiment. People who think that arguments about the politics of culture and the culture of politics are important will, we hope, continue to subscribe, even if it’s physically possible to read the entire journal without paying a cent. That, of course, all amounts to an extended hint … Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 25 May 202326 May 2023 · Main Posts The ‘Chinese question’ and colonial capitalism in New Gold Mountain Christy Tan SBS’s New Gold Mountain sets out to recover the history of the Gold Rush from the marginalised perspective of Chinese settlers but instead reinforces the erasure of Indigenous sovereignty. Although celebrated for its multilingual script and diverse representation, the mini-TV series ignores how the settlement of Chinese migrants and their recruitment into colonial capitalism consolidates the ongoing displacement of First Nations peoples. First published in Overland Issue 228 15 February 202322 February 2023 · Main Posts Self-translation and bilingual writing as a transnational writer in the age of machine translation Ouyang Yu To cut a long story short, it all boils down to the need to go as far away from oneself as possible before one realizes another need to come back to reclaim what has been lost in the process while tying the knot of the opposite ends and merging them into a new transformation.