Picador is about to do for books what Top Shop did for high-street fashion ...announced one online fashion magazine talking about a new series of twelve tiny pocket books each containing a short story or two and priced just £1 each (RM6+), writes Rachel Cooke in the Observer.
In doing so, the publishers hope to promote short fiction, declared before now to be a dying breed in Britain and difficult to sell to the reading public. Picador will, of course, be also promoting their writers by giving readers a tasty snack that might whet their appetite for the main dish, in much the same way Penguin have done with 70's.
The books include short works by big names such as James Salter, Colm Toibin and Tim Winton. ... And I do so hope they find their way into the bookshops here soon. The selfish reason is that I am so totally consumed by bookgreed: I love short fiction and it's a thrill to discover more great writers of the form. I also think that little books like these would lure in a lot of Malaysian readers who might feel daunted by longer works of "quality" fiction and stick to the safer waters of more popular stuff. (But "Would Malaysians welcome such a price of admission for a half-hour or so read?" asks Ted on his blog. Valid point.)
Much has been said on this blog already about the peril short fiction is in in Britain (though not in America ... or even here in Malaysia.) Cooke reminds us:... it is more difficult than at any time in the last 100 years to make money from short stories and this may eventually have serious consequences for the form. It is not just that collections don't sell; individual stories have nowhere to go, since there are no longer any literary magazines to publish them.Perhaps the most effective form of rescue has for the short story is to throw wads of prize money at it.
The National Short Story competition, open only to already published writers in the UK a awards a whacking £15,000 (RM100,00-ish) to the winner. This year's prize went to James Lasdun for his story Anxious Man.
And then there's the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize award of 35,000 euros (the biggest prize for a collection of short fiction anywhere in the world!), won in 2005 by Yiyun Li for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. (Still sitting on my to-be-read shelf.)