3
April

Whither Fandom?

14 Comments

I like to think I’m fairly upbeat on this blog, but I’ve been thinking about some­thing lately, and I wanted to air it here, where maybe it’ll pro­voke some dis­cus­sion. I think when I do stuff like this, I’m sub­con­sciously hoping some wise voice will come out of the wood­work and tell me that every­thing will be okay, which is what I really want to hear.

(Keep in mind, I’ve done no actual sta­tis­tical research here, I am MUSING. I am thinking out loud. If you’ve got hard num­bers to prove me wrong, please do so. It would actu­ally make me feel a lot better).

I just got off a mini signing tour (I hit Pan­de­mo­nium in Boston and Flights of Fan­tasy in Albany, sup­pos­edly with Tobias Buckell, but he was taken ill at the last minute). In Albany, I had the oppor­tu­nity to chat at length with Joe Berlant, who has (like my dear friend the late George Scithers) led a life in fandom and been the orga­nizing hand behind many cons.

The con­ver­sa­tion turned (as it always seems to these days) to the future of pub­lishing. Maria Perry (who owns Flights of Fan­tasy) talked a bit about how all the major pub­lishing houses were cut­ting back on sales staff (most impor­tantly the reps who come out to stores like hers to pitch titles) directing folks to web­sites instead. We won­dered if the Peer Com­par­ison Model for exec­u­tive salaries is part of the problem for major pub­lishing houses (it sure is for many other big busi­nesses), with the people who actu­ally do the work of making/selling the product (sales reps, mar­keting and pub­licity staff, edi­to­rial and art staff) get­ting cut in order to afford higher and higher exec­u­tive com­pen­sa­tion in the face of shrinking profits. We talked about amazon’s preda­tory busi­ness style, the rise of ePiracy, the increasing com­pe­ti­tion for reader time and dol­lars in more sophis­ti­cated video games and better, cheaper and more readily acces­sible video entertainment.

The light at the end of the tunnel, we hoped, was the voracity of readers. And here’s where I got really sad. We agreed that the key was young people doing what I had done in my youth: dis­cov­ering science-fiction and fan­tasy, get­ting addicted to it, and becoming com­mitted to reading pretty much every­thing I could get my hands on for the rest of my days. We talked about exam­ples of that and I began to think I  might be wit­nessing a trend.

Just as there’s a streamlining/centralizing of busi­nesses pro­viding books (only ONE book super­store — B&N, and only SIX major pub­lishing houses, and only really ONE or TWO major places to buy books online), there seems to be a streamlining/centralization of the things people are fans of. I remember being a very broad reader inside genre even in my youth, typ­i­cally fol­lowing as many as twenty authors at once. I didn’t care if it was a block­buster or a midlister. I didn’t wait for Oprah or the Today Show to start buzzing about a book. I explored on my own. It was the *genre* I was com­mitted to, and I couldn’t wait to read every story that existed in it.

So, yeah. Kids are reading. But are they reading *more* than Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins and now *maybe* George R. R. Martin? Are they using these as jumping points to move on to Steven Gould, or Greg Van Eekhout, or Sam Sykes, or redis­cov­ering Piers Anthony, or Steven R. Don­aldson, or Robin Hobb? And sure, they’re eating up the recent block­buster fran­chises in the cinema (Jackson’s Lord of the Rings flicks, the Spider Man and Iron Man movies, Frank Miller’s 300), but is that leading them to read paper comics or their dig­ital equiv­a­lent, and once they do, are they moving on to the more obscure titles? Garth Ennis? Warren Ellis? Bill Will­ingham? Mark Smylie?

Maybe someone out there has done a sta­tis­tical study on this. I’m not sure, and it trou­bles me.

Here’s some­thing else. I grew up in fandom. I was a fan LONG before I was a pro, and I still go to cons (now for work) with the same wide-eyed wonder I did in my youth. My very first con was Lunacon in Rye, New York, and I remember run­ning around the halls of the Hilton LARPing a game based on Piers Anthony’s Appren­tice Adept series. I just went to that same con again. I had an absolute blast (meeting Howard Tayler and lis­tening to his keynote speech was the high­light of the con), but I had to admit that the event was much smaller and much … well … grayer, than I remem­bered. Joe (who has got a few gray hairs him­self, lord love him) nodded sagely at this point and agreed. You see it at all the major city cons, Philcon, Balticon. He pointed out that Albacon 2011 had been can­celled due to a lack of members.

I remember attending Arisia and Boskone roughly a month apart. Both were in Boston at the exact same hotel. Boskone is a lit­erary con, and it showed the same signs of shrinkage and age that the other city cons I just men­tioned did. Arisia was vibrant and bustling by com­par­ison, but it wasn’t lit­erary at all. The pri­mary focus of the con seemed to be anime, sexual kink and the sort of ram­pant cel­e­bra­tion of geekdom that you get at the major “pro­fes­sional cons” (for-profit cons orga­nized by pros, instead of fan run events — I’m refer­ring to SDCC, NYCC and maybe Drag­onCon, does ICon fall into this cat­e­gory as well?). What little lit­erary pro­gram­ming there was played second fiddle to the other stuff I was seeing there. Here were the young people, the next gen­er­a­tion of SF/F fans, and I wasn’t con­vinced they were reading beyond the blockbusters.

All this wor­ries me. The SF/F genre and com­mu­nity are my lifeblood. They reared me, drove me, sus­tain me even today. It’s my tribe and my home. And a tribe is only as vibrant as the next gen­er­a­tion coming up within it. I under­stand that I can’t say that SF/F fandom is dying any more than I can say that pub­lishing, book­stores or print media is dying. But I do think it’s *changing* just as those other arenas are.

I just hope that it’s changing for the better, and that there’ll be room for dinosaurs like me in the new order that evolves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaunmduke Shaun Duke

    I think it’s a legit­i­mate con­cern you have, though it’s hard for any of us to say whether people who read the block­busters actu­ally read other things in the genre.  We do really need a sta­tis­tical study on that.

    That said, I do share many of your fears about fandom:  namely, that so many people read genre, and yet they don’t, because genre for them are the twelve or so books in the last year that hap­pened to sell like hot­cakes at a hot­cakes fes­tival.   don’t think it counts to call one­self a genre reader if the only genre book you’ve read are what you were forced to read in school and the one block­buster you con­sumed because everyone else was.

    But there’s a lot of data we need to make any claims about any of this.  Where’s a soci­ol­o­gist when we need one?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Lee/558368845 Mike Lee

    I’ve been thinking along these lines too, lately, and I believe that the shrinking of con­ven­tions can be traced to two fac­tors: 1.) the emer­gence of mega-cons like SDCC, NYCC and Drag­onCon, and 2.) the rise of the internet and social media. Mega-conventions are pop­ular because not only do they offer some­thing for pretty much everyone, they are also big enough to draw in the biggest names in media. They also happen to be very expen­sive to attend, so most fans tend to save up their money and skip smaller cons so that they can afford to hit the huge ones each year.

    Then there is the internet. More than any­thing else, con­ven­tions were about get­ting together and hanging out with people who shared your inter­ests — espe­cially back in the day, when sf/fantasy wasn’t main­stream. The first con­ven­tion I ever attended was Kubla Kahn, back in 1982, and it was a rev­e­la­tion for me. I will never forget that feeling of kin­ship, of family, that I expe­ri­enced at the con­ven­tion. It felt like coming home.

    Now, how­ever, you can find people with sim­ilar inter­ests with just a few clicks of the key­board. Y0u can par­tic­i­pate in fandom from the com­fort of your home. And there’s nothing wrong with that — but it’s changed the nature of con­ven­tions for­ever. Now, it’s increas­ingly about par­ties, and kink, and cos­tuming — things that you can’t get through an online expe­ri­ence. So I def­i­nitely think that the Golden Age of con­ven­tions has passed. There will be fewer and fewer each year, and the ones that remain will cater to an entirely dif­ferent seg­ment of fandom than us old-timers once knew.

    Now, having said all this, I don’t believe that readers are becoming nar­rower in focus as well. Casual readers might focus on just the book or series of the moment, but I don’t know that they con­sti­tute the majority of readers today. People that love to read will devour books by the stack, the same as they always have.

  • http://twitter.com/gregvaneekhout Greg van Eekhout

    There I was, reading your blog, when my name came up. I don’t have the kind of stats you’re asking about either. But I do have some obser­va­tions about con-going fandom that I’ve formed over the last few years. And, yeah, the cons I’ve gone to that were put on by a local fan group have seemed smaller and grayer to me. But the ones put on quasi-professionally — and I include SDCC in this, since the full-time staff com­prises only small per­centage of the people run­ning the con, and it’s not a for-profit busi­ness — give me hope that there are enough young, enthu­si­astic fans with broad and varied inter­ests to keep the field (what­ever “the field” is), alive and vibrant. It’s not the fandom of 30 or 20 or even 10 years ago, but it’s large in number and broad in interest.

    At SDCC, the panels I’ve been on haven’t included big names, but they still draw 20 — 50 audi­ence mem­bers, and that’s with all kinds of com­pe­ti­tion from Hollywood-driven events and big-name authors and all that.

  • Amanda Bonilla

    I think the “selling” of SF/F and reading in gen­eral is going to fall on teachers, librar­ians, and peers. I live in a super small town and our one local book­store stocks NOTHING in SF/F and our one public library is even worse. Kids need to be encour­aged to read beyond what is trending and teachers need to foster the love of reading by let­ting stu­dents explore rather than simply shove mind-numbing cur­riculum down their throats. Like­wise, I’d like to see more authors being invited to speak at schools. Whether we write YA or not, enthu­siasm can be con­ta­gious and it only takes one child’s curiosity to spread to others. 

    Not everyone can afford a Kindle or Nook. The ease of one-click shop­ping isn’t avail­able to everyone, espe­cially now that fam­i­lies are counting their pen­nies more than ever. It’s dis­heart­ening to see book­stores closing across the country. We need more Indie book­stores and big retail chains alike that sup­port the SF/F genre. 

    This is the Youtube gen­er­a­tion. Teens spend hours surfing the site for crazy videos. The fandom is still present, there’s just too many options. I can’t com­pletely knock it, though. My son has taught him­self to dance and play the piano from Youtube videos. With school, friends, sports, video games, and the internet, his time is already spread thin. And let’s face it: kids have a short atten­tion span as it is. The trend will come back around to reading, comic books, graphic novels, etc., and young readers will be there ready to con­sume what­ever we writers can dish out. 

  • http://twitter.com/SciFiAudiobooks John

      I’ve seen China Mieville pack in 2,000 people to hear him talk at SDCC, while that is a small frac­tion of the crowd there that is HUGE com­pared to other con­ven­tions.  
    Yea those darn kids are on the lawn, but I think they’ll turn out ok. 

  • http://twitter.com/theliz13 The Liz, who else?

    As much as I hate the Amazon monopoly of online books, I do have to say I take heart in the boom of the e-book industry. 
    Yes, it is harder to buy a paper book, a fact that con­cerns me, because RAR I’m a dinosaur and I refuse to sac­ri­fice that deli­cious new print smell on release day. 
    But, those who BUT the kindle, the nook, the i-whatsit, are people who buy BOOKS. LOTS of books. I’m not as in touch with this latest Twi­light reading gen­er­a­tion, but the slightly older gen­er­a­tion, kids in Col­lege now, are still devouring books. Sci-fi, mys­tery, urban fan­tasy. 
    I look at these kids in jeal­ousy, b/c I’ll be honest.  My ‘to-read’ list ALWAYS exceeds my budget, and my deci­sions on books to buy on release day often boil down to my per­sonal rela­tion­ship with the Author, or the series. 
    When I embrace a book, I embrace it to the depth of knowing EVERY detail. It becomes a need and a PASSION. I will dig (and HAVE dug) change out of the couch cush­ions, laundry, and car seats just to scrape together enough for the next paper­back. (Another beef with amazon. They don’t take quar­ters online.)
    I see a lot of the same pas­sion in the younger kids I know, I just envy the fact that most of them, lacking kids and mort­gages, find it easier to buy all the books.
    I don’t think fandom will ever die. Nor will the printed word. I just think we’ll have to see it merge and grow in ways we cannot pre­dict. No one can pre­dict where fandom will burst forth (One word: Bronies) and flower, but wher­ever it does, if we encourage it, we’ll see it branch into other genres and con­tinue to catch fire. 
    So, don’t despair. I just hope the pub­lishing houses are willing to be as flex­ible as they need to be to embrace the changing demands out there. 

  • http://twitter.com/SheckyX Shecky X

    Fandom has always been ini­ti­ated, pro­moted and prop­a­gated by itself. Those who are poten­tial fans will sooner or later run across some­thing that flips that switch, and they will start dig­ging. I def­i­nitely know that’s what hap­pened to me — my first SFF book was an anthology, MAN ON THE MOON, that was just sit­ting around at a garage sale for a nickel (yes, it was that long ago). I read it and won­dered what this amazing stuff was. I even­tu­ally found it at my local public library and read the ENTIRE sec­tion (which wasn’t big, being a small-town library in the rural South, but it was there) in a matter of months. Every time there was a new SFF title in the local or school library, I grabbed it. That’s the sine qua non of fandom: one work that piques the curiosity.

    As for cons… well, let’s be honest. They’re a lot more expen­sive these days, espe­cially con­sid­ering the sky­rock­eting cost of hotels. So, in gen­eral, the people who go are finan­cially com­fort­able or have been plan­ning for that one trip for quite some time. It’s a matter of dol­lars for a lot of people. Heck, there are a pile of cons *I’D* like to go to but are simply out of rea­son­able reach for me, both finan­cially and time-wise (employers take a dim view of people wanting to take every Friday and Monday off :D ).

    I’m not wor­ried for fandom. There have always been Our People, the Sen­si­tive Fan­nish Faces, the geeks who are proud of being geeks. And, for the first time in recorded his­tory, geekdom is actu­ally get­ting towards being con­sid­ered cool by the main­stream. Not there yet (and I hope it never is com­pletely). But we are here and we will always be here.

  • http://twitter.com/NewGuyMike Mike Douton

    As far as con­ven­tion num­bers go, I think Mike Lee beat everyone to the punch. The internet is one big con­ven­tion. In the past few months my habits have been “Read a book, find the author online” with twitter or blogs. Some of the people here have been going to cons longer than I’ve been alive so I can’t com­ment for real on what trends were back in ’82, but back then it seems that cons were one of the best ways to find new stuff and such. The Internet Con­ven­tion (which I am now dub­bing NetCon12, I hope it’s not a thing else­where) does that for me. I found you and Sam Sykes via Scalzi’s blog. I found my cur­rent read, Seanan McGuire, via Jim Hines. Espi­cially since I don’t have a decent phys­ical book­store any­more, what better way to find some­thing good to read than through people you already like.

    I think the whole NetCon12 thing is only going to get bigger though. The same people who like to read about swords and space­ships and future tech are often the same type of people who are early adopters of tech­nology. Ubiq­ui­tous blog­ging, twitter, pic­ture feeds… this is all stuff that was futur­istic ten years ago. The stuff we all read about is becoming closer to the truth. And that’s all fancy and fun. If you told me when I was a kid that I could have con­ver­sa­tions with someone who’s book I read… I would have never believed a word of it.

    As far as ori­gins of fandom… well I inher­ited that. I had Lord of the Rings read to me when I was ten and then started reading my parent’s books, skip­ping kids books all together. Asamov, Lackey, Bradley. YA didn’t exist in the early 90s, or at least no one pointed it out to me so I just went for that. Every nerd is oblig­ated to pass it down to another as I fully intend to with my unborn kid, who already has a plush AT-AT.

  • http://twitter.com/NewGuyMike Mike Douton

    As far as con­ven­tion num­bers go, I think Mike Lee beat everyone to the punch. The internet is one big con­ven­tion. In the past few months my habits have been “Read a book, find the author online” with twitter or blogs. Some of the people here have been going to cons longer than I’ve been alive so I can’t com­ment for real on what trends were back in ’82, but back then it seems that cons were one of the best ways to find new stuff and such. The Internet Con­ven­tion (which I am now dub­bing NetCon12, I hope it’s not a thing else­where) does that for me. I found you and Sam Sykes via Scalzi’s blog. I found my cur­rent read, Seanan McGuire, via Jim Hines. Espi­cially since I don’t have a decent phys­ical book­store any­more, what better way to find some­thing good to read than through people you already like.

    I think the whole NetCon12 thing is only going to get bigger though. The same people who like to read about swords and space­ships and future tech are often the same type of people who are early adopters of tech­nology. Ubiq­ui­tous blog­ging, twitter, pic­ture feeds… this is all stuff that was futur­istic ten years ago. The stuff we all read about is becoming closer to the truth. And that’s all fancy and fun. If you told me when I was a kid that I could have con­ver­sa­tions with someone who’s book I read… I would have never believed a word of it.

    As far as ori­gins of fandom… well I inher­ited that. I had Lord of the Rings read to me when I was ten and then started reading my parent’s books, skip­ping kids books all together. Asamov, Lackey, Bradley. YA didn’t exist in the early 90s, or at least no one pointed it out to me so I just went for that. Every nerd is oblig­ated to pass it down to another as I fully intend to with my unborn kid, who already has a plush AT-AT.

  • http://twitter.com/stellamortis Rachel Sasseen

    My opinion on the cons being smaller and grayer, and not having newer and younger people attending, is in part that most of those cons have min­imal web pres­ence.  And what pres­ence they do have isn’t updated very often.  Like Lunacon–I looked at going last year, but ulti­mately I decided not to because I had no idea who would be there aside from the GOHs, and no clue what the panel schedule might be like.  There were prob­ably about 4 cons I looked into that were like that.  I’m not likely to go if I don’t know who’s going to be there, and if the web­site doesn’t have that info more than a week before, I’m not going to go back to look.

    I-Con did have a lot of younger people, but it was more of a media con with more focus on gaming and celebs.  Though most of the celebs weren’t big, they were rec­og­niz­able.  But the orga­ni­za­tion was hor­rible.  Rob and I wouldn’t have gone again this year if Cam Banks hadn’t been there.  I would’ve gotten more from going to Con­bust at Smith col­lege, which is a *tiny* con, but it’s a decent atten­dance, decent guests, and quite a few panels on writing as well as media and gaming.  And because Con­bust is orga­nized by col­lege stu­dents, they have a reg­u­larly updated website.

    I don’t think I’d be too wor­ried about the fandom and what people read, though.  I’ve seen quite a few people who’ve read stuff like Twi­light or Eragon who, from those, went looking for some­thing sim­ilar and came across Jim Butcher’s series and found his forums where there are always more reading sug­ges­tions.  That one’s just my own expe­ri­ence, but I’m sure there are a variety of others that are some­what sim­ilar.  And then there are the fans like all of us com­menting here who will always con­tinue sug­gesting books and encourage reading.  I buy books for my nieces and nephews for birth­days and Christmas, and I have a ten­dency to get them stuff that trends more toward sf/f than any­thing else.

    Ohh…that reminds me, Rob bought a box set of John Carter books since we saw the movie.  I’ll have to read those soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=778500532 Matt Jebus Jones

    I can’t speak much to cons as I’ve only ever been to two (my first ever con I got drunk with Terry Pratchett and David Gem­mell, the second I got drunk next to GRRM — yes there was over a decade between the two) — they’re a lot far­ther apart geo­graph­i­cally and chrono­log­i­cally here in Aus­tralia. But I used to find out about books through perusing book­shelves and rec­om­men­da­tions from friends and occa­sion­ally through my librarian (she got me onto Eddings & McCaf­frey after I plowed through Tolkien, Alexander and Lewis).

    I now get rec­om­men­da­tions from blogs, authors, Face­book, Twitter, dis­cus­sion boards, emails, newslet­ters (mainly form pub­lishers), and browsing online book stores (mainly bookde­pos­i­tory). If I as a 34 year old cur­mud­geon can under­stand and appre­ciate how to do that, then so too can the youth. I wouldn’t have found your book except for Face­book, I’d have maybe not known about Peat except for Pat’s Fan­tasy Hotlist.

    The way we find authors and books to read has changed in that it’s a lot more online and ephemeral than it used to be; it’s not so much face to face as key­board to keyboard.

    I per­son­ally think that’s bril­liant as I now have friends all over the world who rec­om­mend me books and not just my librarian, close friends or the strange bearded man camping in the SFF sec­tion of my local book­store. On the other hand it does mean, I’d assume, smaller and more focused cons, but as I said I’ve not really attended them before so don’t know much beyond what I read and see on sites like yours.

    Either way I think fandom and being able to rec­om­mend not just the block­buster authors is still up there — and likely growing — but has so many new avenues to explore that it really is quite exciting.

    Hell Myke, just look at your own rel­a­tive suc­cess with your first novel: do you think you’d have gotten the sales you have if the only way to find out about or for you to pro­mote your books was cons, word of mouth, shelf space and maybe mags like Locus? I highly doubt it… or it’d at least have been more of a slow-burn debut than the explo­sion of goblin-stomping glee that it appears to have been.
    :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=778500532 Matt Jebus Jones

    I can’t speak much to cons as I’ve only ever been to two (my first ever con I got drunk with Terry Pratchett and David Gem­mell, the second I got drunk next to GRRM — yes there was over a decade between the two) — they’re a lot far­ther apart geo­graph­i­cally and chrono­log­i­cally here in Aus­tralia. But I used to find out about books through perusing book­shelves and rec­om­men­da­tions from friends and occa­sion­ally through my librarian (she got me onto Eddings & McCaf­frey after I plowed through Tolkien, Alexander and Lewis).

    I now get rec­om­men­da­tions from blogs, authors, Face­book, Twitter, dis­cus­sion boards, emails, newslet­ters (mainly form pub­lishers), and browsing online book stores (mainly bookde­pos­i­tory). If I as a 34 year old cur­mud­geon can under­stand and appre­ciate how to do that, then so too can the youth. I wouldn’t have found your book except for Face­book, I’d have maybe not known about Peat except for Pat’s Fan­tasy Hotlist.

    The way we find authors and books to read has changed in that it’s a lot more online and ephemeral than it used to be; it’s not so much face to face as key­board to keyboard.

    I per­son­ally think that’s bril­liant as I now have friends all over the world who rec­om­mend me books and not just my librarian, close friends or the strange bearded man camping in the SFF sec­tion of my local book­store. On the other hand it does mean, I’d assume, smaller and more focused cons, but as I said I’ve not really attended them before so don’t know much beyond what I read and see on sites like yours.

    Either way I think fandom and being able to rec­om­mend not just the block­buster authors is still up there — and likely growing — but has so many new avenues to explore that it really is quite exciting.

    Hell Myke, just look at your own rel­a­tive suc­cess with your first novel: do you think you’d have gotten the sales you have if the only way to find out about or for you to pro­mote your books was cons, word of mouth, shelf space and maybe mags like Locus? I highly doubt it… or it’d at least have been more of a slow-burn debut than the explo­sion of goblin-stomping glee that it appears to have been.
    :)

  • Acyd3273

    I just attended Won­dercon in Ana­heim and while it was very much like SDCC was 10 years ago it was still more of a pop-culture con than a comic book convention.

    The Internet will be the down­fall of all thing good and holy. Ok maybe not but it is changing things dras­ti­cally and quickly. As a guy who still likes to curl up with a good book or comic book I find myself with my iPad in hand far more than I’d like to admit. I have little time between work and raising a family to get to a book store or to the local comic shop. I’ve had to make some com­pro­mises. All of my DC titles are dig­ital and my Marvel titles are paper. For very two dig­ital books I buy I try to go down to the local B&N and pur­chase a paper one.

    What I find inter­esting is how the Internet is changing the author/fan inter­ac­tion. I follow a couple of authors not because I dig their books but because they’re funny on twitter, or has a good web page/blog. Chuck Wendig is like this for me. I’m not really inter­ested in his novels but his writing advice and wit is awe­some. As we move into a new era of pub­lishing it seems that authors are going to have to diver­sify even more but also the fans will have to diver­sify as well. I don’t think this is good or bad, just different.

  • Nicholas Shectman

    Boskone may be old and grey com­pared to some but this year’s con was the largest since 1988.  Small e-book focused pub­lishers are prof­itable now that they have thrown off the crushing yoke of the paper­back book “return” mech­a­nism (in which only the cover is returned, as proof of destruc­tion of the book, and the small press is stuck with the printing cost).  And inside some of those larger, media-focused cons like Drag­onCon and Arisia is a sur­pris­ingly good lit­er­a­ture pro­gram.  Just because it’s buried under 500 items you’re not inter­ested in doesn’t mean there’s less of the stuff you want, and 85% of the mem­bers not going doesn’t add up to any fewer people attending that pro­gram­ming than back when it was at a con­ven­tion 1/10 the size.