The Growth of Short Stories

Books PileThe ebook revolution rolls on.

We have seen the discovery of fantastic new writers who, because they were able to self-publish and get their work out digitally, have managed to achieve commercial success through the new meritocratic medium. But it’s not just authors themselves seeing success. It’s different types of books doing well too.

There’s strong growth in romantic and erotic fiction these days. And if you think about it, it makes sense: we can’t see the cover of what you’re reading. The old “embarrassment factor” of these books goes away. That almost certainly explains part of the success of the Fifty Shades novels, for example.

But regardless of genre, what’s really interesting is that short stories have seen a real boost. Amazon’s Kindle Singles account for a fair percentage of the overall market on the world’s biggest platform.

It’s great to see short stories get the coverage they deserve. For quite a while there wasn’t a good business model for them. The magazine publications of short stories are now few and far between, with editors unable to commission anyway near as much work as they used to. And for paperback books, there’s a serious problem with economy of scale. Making a 50-page book doesn’t cost much less than a 500-page book. But you can’t sell it for much less. Any why would people pay the same about for a short story as a long one?

But when it comes to electronic distribution, it doesn’t matter whether something is 50 pages or 500. You can still make money by selling it at the price you think it appropriate. There can still be an economic case for publishing. And what an exciting new wave of possibilities for new writers. Vive La Short Story!

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