Sunday, December 06, 2009
The Atlantic Will Sell Short Stories on Kindle
By Motoko Rich
Published: December 4, 2009
Let the iTunes-ization of short fiction begin.
Starting on Monday, Amazon will sell two stories, one by Christopher Buckley and the other by Edna O’Brien, through its Kindle store. The stories have been selected and edited by the staff at The Atlantic, the venerable magazine that once published short fiction in its print pages monthly.
Priced at $3.99 each, the stories, which will bear the Atlantic logo, are exclusively available on the Kindle, Amazon’s electronic reader, and will not appear in the print version of the magazine. The Atlantic’s editors plan to offer about two Kindle stories every month.
Scott Stossel, deputy editor of The Atlantic, said the new arrangement would allow the magazine to offer more stories than it can in its annual fiction issue, and to make a little extra money. The magazine, founded in 1857, stopped publishing monthly fiction in 2005.
Mr. Stossel said the new Kindle format would allow writers to experiment with work that was either too long for a magazine or too short for a traditional book. In the age of the Kindle, Mr. Stossel said, “you can do publishing that’s not constrained by the limitations and costs of the printed page.”
Mr. Buckley’s story, “Cynara,” a coming-of-age tale about two young men working on a charter sailboat in the early 1970s, is 15,000 words, a length that would have been prohibitive for The Atlantic in its print edition, but most likely too short for a book deal.
“Sure, ideally, I would like it printed on archival paper and bound in red morocco with gold embossed for a limited edition and signed by the author,” Mr. Buckley said. But if the Kindle edition “grabs some eyeballs — and I guess grabbing eyeballs is what the Internet is all about — then I’m all for it.”
Russ Grandinetti, the vice president who handles Kindle content at Amazon, said this was the first deal with a magazine publisher to select short stories for sale. This year Stephen King wrote a short story exclusively for Kindle, dealing directly with Amazon.
The authors with the Atlantic agreement have been paid a four-figure fee and will split sale proceeds with both The Atlantic and Amazon. Although the authors may at some point obtain the rights to republish the stories as part of a collection or in another magazine, the stories cannot appear in any other e-reader format.
On amazon.com, readers who search for the authors’ books will also be shown links to the Atlantic-branded short stories.