Publishing news

The publishing industry is abuzz today with two exciting news items: The 2010 Man Booker prize will be awarded any minute and Amazon has announced a new chapbook program called “Kindle Singles.”

I love the Booker prize.  Leave it to the Brits to generate buzz for an entertainment medium other than television or the movies.  First the long list is announced, then the short list, and finally, the winner.  People actually bet on who will be the winner – the US offers nothing comparable.  The novels are always outstanding.  I also like that the books selected are literary but not always “literary fiction.”

I haven’t read any of the books on the short list; I’m currently working my way through “Skippy Dies,” which is on the long list.  I read Emma Donoghue’s “Life Mask” and was underwhelmed (as I usually am with historical fiction set in the 18th century; I’m just too close to the material).  Her novel “Room” sounds dangerous and exciting.  Peter Carey’s “Parrot and Olivier in America” received a lot of good press when it came out this spring.  I’m also excited about Andrea Levy’s “The Long Song” and Tom McCarthy’s “C.”  I’ll be anxiously awaiting the results.

Amazon’s Kindle Singles is not the first time the online retailer has dabbled in publishing.  They ran a program a while ago called Kindle Shorts – similar concept, shorter stories.  The Kindle website hasn’t gone live with the program, so it’s unclear how it will work in practice.  In theory, stories between 10K and 30K words will be sold for “much less” than a regular Kindle edition.  Which, given that most Kindle editions of hardcovers run about $10, probably won’t be that much.  The idea is certainly enticing; given the current economic climate and the state of the publishing industry, any new avenue to sell stories should be welcomed with open arms.  Still, is it enough?  Will people buy these stories?  Or will it be another experiment that looks good on paper but quickly fizzles?

So that’s enough for publishing.  I am sitting at a Starbucks hoping for inspiration.  There are at least three other writers around me taking advantage of the free internet and creative juices.  Write on!

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