The move toward digital reading has been blamed for permanently shortening readers’ attention spans, but it seems to have reopened the market for longer short pieces, if that makes sense. Formerly way too long for the glorified blurbs that populate many blog posts, and far too short to be published in book format, long short pieces have been the domain of magazine features and literary journals (on the shorter side), and novellas (on the longer side). Now, they’ve found distribution via digital apps, e-readers, and other digital publishing platforms.
Last month, the New York Times announced a partnership with Byliner to release expanded versions of articles that have appeared on the Times and other pieces that run 10-20,000 words long — or 50 to 100 pages depending on the font. Likewise, author Margaret Atwood recently announced she was releasing her next novel as a serial, noting the internet has ironically made it possible to revive the serial fiction culture of the past. And today, paidContent reports that new iPad magazine “Paragraph Shorts” will curate the best short stories on the web and distribute them in a Flipboard-like magazine experience.
Exciting development, I think. Economy of words is a great thing — and a necessary writerly skill. But, no matter how long or short a piece of writing is, if it’s good, you don’t want it to end.
P.S. Publishers Weekly has a great (long) piece on The State of the Short Story from October 2012 that you might enjoy.