On USA Today yesterday, Craig Wilson published a story about “mini ebooks”, which are “being served up this summer as bite-size appetizers for the main course to follow”. I wasn’t aware that this was particularly news-worthy, having seen plenty of these short stories and prequel minis released over the past couple of years. Also, Amazon’s been releasing it’s Kindle Singles for a long time, so there’s more evidence that it’s not a new idea.
They are, however, clearly on the rise. Wilson picks up on three – a new Rizzoli & Isles short from Tess Gerritsen (John Doe UK/US), an early Jack Reacher story from Lee Child (Deep Down UK/US) and a new Walt Longmire story from Craig Johnson (Divorce Horse).
I am entirely in agreement with Johnson, who said these eBook shorts were “a good way of providing a bridge between books,” and also Wilson’s support for them:
“[They are] an opportunity to feed a voracious, digitally savvy public no longer willing to wait between books. The public appears willing to plop down a couple of bucks for a teaser before paying $25 for the real deal.”
Even excusing the impatience-born appeal, I think they really serve best as tasters for new readers – which is why I’ve bought both of Child’s eBook short stories – Deep Down and last year’s Second Son (I’ve never read a Reacher novel, and to this day I have no idea why not…). I’m not sure if I’ll buy Gerritsen’s, as I have the first full-length novel in the Rizzoli & Isles series, and John Doe isn’t a prequel.
In the SFF genre, I’m not aware of too many examples, but off the top of my head T.C. McCarthy’s Somewhere it Snows, Brad Beaulieu & Steve Gaskell’s Strata, Nick Harkaway’s Edie Investigates, Brent Weeks’s Perfect Shadow, and Orbit Books’s Short Fiction initiative, which now has 22 titles (sadly still only available in the US, except for Perfect Shadow).
The real issue, I suppose, would be more about whether or not the short fiction should be series prequel, a continuation, or something entirely unrelated to the author’s next full-length release. I personally would like a mix of all three.
How do other people feel about this?
CORRECTION: Orbit Short Fiction initiative HAS rolled out for UK customers! Just go to the website, and each title has a handy list of vendors. Hurrah! This is great news! I really want seven of them…