When I started writing my science fiction novel last August, I immediately recognized that I had been reading spec fic only randomly for the past decade, which meant I had a lot of ground to make up and a lot of research to do on the current state of the market. One of the challenges in writing speculative fiction is to not copy what's already been done. Because most of the ideas anymore have been done is some way before, the trick is to find a new story to wrap around an old idea, a new way to tell it. That's hard to do if you don't know what's been done.
After consulting with scifi fans amongst my friends, who seem to be more up on things than I am, I also decided to start taking some magazines to see what's going on. I subscribed to the majors: Analog, Asimov's, The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Realms Of Fantasy, and Locus. But I also ordered single copies of a number of publications like Black Gate, Tales of The Talisman, Outer Reaches, Encounters and Realms. In addition, I researched and checked out the online magazines like Fantasy, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Beyond Ceaseless Skies, amongst others.
One of the issues, of course, is finding time to read all these, and I admit, I am way behind. I have read enough, however, to tell you which magazines I like, and thus will likely keep, and which I'm not so crazy about.
Locus, of course, as the industry trade magazine, is a must. I enjoy the stories in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, Black Gate and Realms. But I found Realms of Fantasy disappointing because it is mostly adds and non-fiction, none of which have really appealed to me so far. Encounters and Outer Reaches just didn't strike my fancy. The same with Tales of The Talisman as well. Asimov's is good, but I find I like stories better in their sister magazine Analog, and so I have to choose one or both, depending on budget.
One of the issues is that my two favorite subgenres are not well represented in most of them. For science fiction, I have always been a space opera guy, and with fantasy, I like sword and sorcery. Perhaps because I am so far behind in my reading, neither of these has worn me out. As a result, Realms' sword and sorcery really appeals to me. I have yet to find a mag to satisfy my space opera itch. But since I mostly write space opera scifi stories, I am still looking.
In any case, those are the thoughts so far on specfic print magazines. I can talk more about online ezines later.
For what it's worth...