The Future Of Short Fiction Publishing: Pay Per Story?

The iPad and other devices may have revolutionized the short story publishing market, judging from a new announcement by Orbit Books. The genre publisher, whose authors include Iain M. Banks and Gail Carriger, is going to start publishing its authors's short fiction electronically — but Orbit's not going the Tor route, where stories are posted online for free. Instead, reading between the lines, it sounds like Orbit wants to publish stories for handheld devices and other sources, through "major retail channels." So instead of buying a collection of an author's stories — or an anthology containing many different authors — you might see that there's a new Joe Abercrombie story and pay a dollar or two to download it. This sounds like a great way to get more people reading short fiction, but not such a great way to help people discover new short fiction authors. But we'll have to wait for more details before passing judgment — here's the Orbit press release:

Orbit, the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint of Hachette Book Group, announces a digital short fiction publishing program launching later this year.

Orbit (US) has offered to publish digital editions of all original short fiction written by its authors. The digital editions will be distributed widely through major retail channels, for reading on a variety of devices. Authors will be paid a royalty for each story sold, rather than the flat fee more common in the short story market.

Tim Holman, Orbit VP & Publisher, said: "We know that writing short fiction is important for many of our authors. By offering to publish their short fiction – and to publish it quickly – we will be providing a new way for them to connect with readers. The initial response from our authors has been great, and we are looking forward to launching the first stories later this year."

Maja Thomas, SVP Hachette Digital, said: "Publishing timely and well-priced short fiction has long been one of HBG's goals. The digital reading revolution and the proliferation of new devices and mobile platforms now make this possible."

Launched in 2007, Orbit (US) is the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint at Hachette Book Group. Its authors include Joe Abercrombie, Iain M. Banks, Greg Bear, Gail Carriger, Karen Miller, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Brent Weeks.

Hachette Book Group (HBG) is a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the second-largest publisher in the world. HBG publishes under the divisions of Little, Brown and Company, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords, Center Street, Orbit, and Hachette Digital.


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I've been buying short stories and novellas for the Kindle since I got mine. It's nice to get a short origin story or a small set of short stories from someone I know I like for a cheap price.

My friend, who is of course not me, noticed that there seems to be quite a bit of erotica available in this format on the Kindle, too.