Amazon.com is now selling "new short-form literature from top authors for only 49 cents." After years of people predicting the demise of the short story, it is interesting to see a market participant with the heft of Amazon backing the form. About 60 authors have signed up for the program.
Jonathan Skillings suggests that the move will retest the financial viability of the short story.
In a world dominated by blockbuster novels such as "The Da Vinci
Code" and higher-brow long works from "The Kite Runner" to "The Line of
Beauty," short stories typically receive short shrift. Fans of the
diminutive form have to subscribe to The New Yorker or literary
journals, and writers who focus on the form generally must content
themselves with a love of their art. Enter Amazon. On Friday, the e-commerce giant unveiled Amazon Shorts,
saying it hopes the digital-only outlet "can help to fuel a revival of
this kind of work." At the very least, the online bookshelf will
provide flanking support for the English teachers of the world and
their well-worn volumes of Hawthorne and Hemingway.
Chris Crum of WebproNews says readers will have the choice of three options: "including a ‘view now’ option, a downloadable PDF file, or they can choose to simply have the piece emailed to them."
The Wall Street Journal notes that the program is an evolution in how Amazon distributes digital content.
The Seattle company has been adding forms of digital content — books,
music and movies — to its Web site over the past year, with particular
emphasis on original material. Last December, it offered short films
that promoted products sold on the Amazon site. It later presented
short films from amateur filmmakers’ submissions to New York’s Tribeca
Film Festival. In July, Amazon Web cast short videos of celebrities
delivering Amazon packages to customers, and broadcast a full-length
concert with Norah Jones and Bob Dylan during its 10-year anniversary
celebration. So far, though, all these digital features have been free to Web
surfers, so the new Amazon Shorts program represents a departure.
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