Best of the Net 2011  



This year brings the sixth issue of Sundress Publications' Best of the Net. Since our first call for nominations in 2006, we've seen tremendous growth in online publishing. The first edition of the anthology received nominations of fiction and poetry from around fifty journals. This year, well over a hundred journals sent us their best work in three genres—poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Obviously, as Best of the Net has grown, the number of people who contribute their time and energy has also increased; we had our largest number ever of readers, editors, judges, and interns working behind the scenes.

A lot has changed since 2006. Back then, online publications were not generally afforded the same respect as traditional print journals. We at Sundress struggled with the question of legitimacy. What makes print, with its limited reach, more acceptable than electronic publishing, with its potentially unlimited audience? we asked ourselves. Our answer was to reject the idea that Best of the Net must be in print because, as Erin Elizabeth Smith stated in 2006, "the lack of respect given to Internet publications by the writing community, the college English community, as well as the publishing community is shocking, especially since so many of those writers are currently publishing online themselves." To publish the anthology in print was to work against the very thing that online publishing set out to do—offer writing in a medium that was as flexible, wide-reaching, and democratic as humanly possible.

With portable technologies such as the smartphone, the e-reader, and the tablet near ubiquitous, "print versus online" is no longer an issue of legitimacy but of longevity. Faced with unprecedented budget cuts, university-sponsored journals find themselves moving online to reduce costs. Social media has made it possible to successfully promote books without the need for expensive advertising agencies. Big-name bookstores, once demonized for killing smaller independent shops, are now struggling to compete with Amazon and digital delivery services. The so-called traditional publishing industry is undergoing a paradigm shift. As more authors, readers, and publishers embrace digital formats, the stigma previously associated with online publishing is, if not gone, then at least diminished.

Yes, a lot has changed.

It seems like some commentator declares print "dead" every other day. But we think it's a little too soon to sign its death certificate. Consider the rise of independent presses, many of which are releasing books worthy of our most prestigious awards. The relative ease and economy of print-on-demand. The artful, innovative work being done by letterpress artisans and bookmakers all over the world. We at Sundress and Best of the Net don't see print and electronic publishing as enemies; similarly, we imagine our anthology as a companion of, not a competitor with, other "best of" print collections. There is simply too much great writing out there to be confined to a single medium.

Long live online and print publishing. Long live moveable type and photocopiers. Long live small presses and independent booksellers. Long live subscription drives and Kickstarter campaigns. And, of course, long live the people who support writing in all of its forms and at every stage of its development.

The Editorial Staff
2011 Best of the Net Anthology