Monday, October 26, 2009

The Future of Ficton Reading? by Austin S. Camacho

At Bouchercon I saw convincing evidence that the paper book was not dead, as hundreds of fans hauled away rolling cases filled with new acquisitions. But there was also much talk of the popularity of e-books, which got a dramatic boost from the Kindle.

A completely separate ongoing conversation had to do with the threatened death of the short mystery story. The most vocal proponents of this form belong to the Short Mystery Fiction Society which gives out the Derringer Award for the best short mystery of the year.The challenge with short stories is that there are precious few places to get them published. Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines have little competition these days. The Strand is a larger, slick magazine that also publishes some fiction among other things.So the question arises, will people buy short stories the way they buy novels in e-book format? Perhaps the short story form will gain even more popularity if the stories can be purchased individually.

If short fiction sold individually is the leading edge of the new wave of reading options, then Echelon Press is standing at that edge. Their new line of Echelon Shorts allows readers to download quick reads for small money – much like downloading the songs you like to make your own IPod mix instead of buying whole CDs.

I loved the idea so much I decided to submit a story myself and was pleased to be accepted. So now, for a couple of bucks, new readers can get the flavor of a Hannibal Jones novel in a few thousand words. My short story, “A Little Wildness” has all the basic elements of a Hannibal Jones novel in a bite-sized package.

Naturally, I hope you’ll give the story a try. But more to the point, I hope you and others will step further into the 21st century and sample other short stories on the site. This could be the reading plan of the future and we get to be there today.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I'm not a short story writer, but nearly all my books are on Kindle--even my latest, Dispel the Mist. Yes, I have a Kindle and I love it--but I still buy paper books too.


Mark Troy said...

I'm a big fan of short stories. I've written a few and one was even nominated for a Derringer. What I like about them, as a writer, is that I can develop some character ideas or plot ideas in a short space and then work them into a novel later on. Writing short stories had taught me a lot about plotting and tight writing.

Having short stories online for download is great, but not a new idea. In the late nineties, Blue Murder was an online publication that was available for download. The stories had a word limit of 3000 because the editors determined that was about the limit of what patrol officers could read on their laptops on break.

Handheld Crime was around in the early part of this decade with stories you could download to your PDA. Remember PDAs? That might be a caution about relying too much on new technology.


Michael said...

I'm the same way Mark. The short story is a great way to flesh out characters and determine if they could possibly interact in a way interestingly enough for a novel length work. I've even taken a single character I intend to introduce into a mystery and build a small story around him/her just so I have a complete understanding of his/her character and background. It's a nice reference piece if they return in another story.