Sunday, 13 February 2011

White Paper, The Short Story and Buying Ebooks on line ...

How far has the short story come?

Some years ago, during my MA studies at Lancaster, when the Short Story seemed to regarded as the under-dog and maybe even worse, the weak novel writer's first attempt, I remember attending a Short Story [University based] Conference, full of somewhat depressing [although well done] White Papers on the non-future of the then ailing Short Story. Whilst a few lecturers and writers hailed the Short Story, including AL Kennedy, who presented highly enthusiastic ideas for writing them, were supporting the cause, I felt only gloom then doom for the Short Story. I felt like a member of a secret society, almost ashamed that I was interested in the possibility of writing short stores or fast fiction as some writers might prefer to call them now. The only possibity for publication included small-time magazines and competitions. Publishers just weren't interested in turning out volumes of short stories. The novel reigned.

But hey, since the shock of the Credit Crunch, sending us into a dark place, the Short Story seems to have pulsed through somehow, lightening the load in our speedy lives, offering us the opportunity to fit in some catch-up reading between travel, work, limited leisure time.

And how? Clearly, the development of E book technology. I admit, I'm not TV/ DVD /IPOD techny; I have an MP3 player which remains in its cellophane packaging but I do have a Kindle ~ and it's got to be the easiest techno unit to operate. Even my mother could use one !

I refer to my Kindle [as writers, we know we have to write about ... what we know] but obviously, include ipad and any type of e-book technology, when I say that a whole new interactive experience has been created for the reader. We can change font size, type, page size. For me personally, struggling with a mild form of dyslexia, the clear format [possibly the darkened screen helps too], means I can read faster and therefore hold my concentration for longer. I can shorten the pages so I'm not overfaced by too much text on one page. When I turn the gadget on, my page waits for me. I can highlight and add notes from the text - so no pen and paper or laptop required. It's lightweight ~ no more lugging the weight of a paperback around with you or paying extra on holiday baggage allowance.

According to Cathy Galvin's findings [Sunday Times 30 Jan 2011], 'Within the first 80 days of going on sale, the iPad sold 3m world wide and sales boomed on the iBookstore.' Galvin states: 'Google has announced plans to launch an ebook store, Google Editions, allowing independant publishers to sell their catalogues for the first time.' I checked out Google Editions ~ which seems to be promised internationally but only to be available in USA at the moment. It looks like Google will allow readers free downloads and an 80% charge for ebook download to e-readers. Take a look at this article for an update:

Short story writers have much to gain ~ Where a novel might sell single thousands of copies, the short story sold for e-book publications might sell many times that [no printing / distribution costs either]. The industry are expecting sales to treble by 2105. It's great to see an opportunity for the Short Story writer at last. And I can't wait to upload / shuffle / read ... E-technology is bringing the Short Story to life at last.

* Search under 'Fast Fiction' at e-retailers or maybe Amazon iBookstore.
* Costs around 99p - £1.99

Enjoy, Gillian


  1. Interesting post, Jill. I think you're right, all this technology might be good news for writers if the publishers (and I mean that in the broadest sense) adapt to the opportunities it presents. I guess it's also going to need customers to move away from the idea that online content should always be free, too.

    I don't have an e-reader and don't particularly want one, but I'm the kind of guy who'll put off buying one until just before going on a long trip and then be instantly hooked. I can imagine short stories would be my reading material of choice; there's still something about looking at a screen for long periods of time that puts me off.

  2. I feel the same about looking at screens for a long time - suppose that's where the short story will win out. Somehow, the Kindle looks / feels more like a book page - maybe something to do with the choice of tint of the 'page' - even the product is tactile.