How big is SF fandom?

Whilst debating the possibilities of tomorrows SF magazines, I began idly wondering how big SF fandom really is. To give the question some parameters, SF fandom in this case means written speculative fiction, not mass media sci-fi. Once you add together all the cons, ‘zines, online and offline communities and all the other ways that fandom manifests, and excluding the large number of keen SF readers who likely aren’t even aware fandom exists, how many people are actually engaged in fandom? And as a subsidiary question, is fandom growing or shrinking?

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7 thoughts on “How big is SF fandom?”

      1. Wow.

        I would be shocked if it’s as many as ten thousand. Just look at the attendance at literary-oriented conventions – several thousands in the best cases – or at online presence. A good rule of thumb is that in any community you have 10% content producers, 90% consumers, and there probably aren’t more than a thousand people who write, or even comment on writing, about written SF.

        You’ll get bigger numbers, of course, if your definition of SF fandom includes the fandoms of specific written works like Harry Potter, Twilight, and A Song of Ice and Fire, and once you start crossing over into YA fandom the numbers also climb up. But if you’re looking at people who are interested in science fiction as a genre rather than fans of a particular author or series, ten thousand is probably the upper limit.

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      2. I think somewhere between 10,000 and 750,000 is a starting point. 10,000 strikes me as a good figure for science fiction fandom, if you keep strictly to the con attending crowd in America / UK. Although even the. That seems low. 750,000 might come closer to the fandom of speculative fiction globally, and yes I do think Potter / Twilight etc count. If you start looking at the crossover with comics, RPG’s etc it’s probably twice that number of people who engage in fandom in some way.

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  1. There are probably at least a dozen US cons that regularly draw an attendance of over 2,000 from the local area. Dragon*Con is in excess of 30,000; Comic-Con in excess of 100,000. Anime conventions draw from a different demographic and there are several with over 5,000 annually.

    The big French SF conventions can get up to 10,000 and French comic conventions are bigger than Comic-Con. So are Japanese manga conventions.

    Then again, it depends on your definition. I know some people who would maintain that the number of people in true SF fandom is defined by the number of people who attend Corflu each year.

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