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