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Search Strategies

When I first got hooked on short ebooks, I found most of the ones I read by browsing the Kindle Singles on Amazon. That method delivered a lot of great things to my Kindle, but it was clear I was missing a lot of other great things, so I started to look for other ways to find new short ebooks.

Being a good computer geek, I first tried the Advanced Search feature on Amazon. However, it turns out that length is not one of the fields they expose to search. Next, I tried just searching the Kindle store with “novella” or “novelette.” This certainly found a lot of short books, but most of them were romance, or erotica, or erotic romance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those genres, but that wasn’t really what I was looking to find. So I tried combining “novella” and “novelette” with other genres, like sci-fi, fantasy (this also turns up a lot of erotica…), and steampunk. And I found a lot of great things.

I was still missing too much, though. This method is not good for finding non-fiction or non-genre fiction. Amazon’s advanced search allows me to exclude keywords, and Kobo’s search allows me to filter a “novella” search by category. Both of these are useful. However, I still find it hard to find non-fiction and non-genre fiction. Therefore, I’ve come up with a few other search strategies:

1. Identify publishers of short ebooks, and search on the publisher

Publishers I’ve searched on include Tor.com (great for sci-fi and fantasy), Guardian Shorts (for non-fiction), The Atlantic (they seem to be publishing their back catalog of short stories), and The Atavist (their non-fiction ebooks are usually also listed as Kindle Singles, though). I’ve also enjoyed things published in Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading series.

2. Searching by author

I’ve had a lot of luck searching for authors whose longer works I’ve enjoyed. For instance, John Scalzi has some excellent short stories and novellas available for purchase. This strategy is hit or miss- there is no way to know which of your favorite authors have published short works. It is also not a strategy that helps you expand your horizons. You obviously only find short works by authors you already know about.

3. Searching the web

I’ve also had luck leaving the confines of Amazon and searching the web. I’ve turned up blog posts by authors about their short works, and can then go find those works in the online store.

4. Searching Pinterest

May was Short Story Month, and a lot of people pinned short stories and short story collections. Searching on "short stories" finds those pins. There are also lists of short stories posted by teachers and librarians, and some of these can be found as ebooks. I’ve pinned some of these to the Tungsten Hippo Pinterest boards, but there are many more to be found. You can also follow boards like 100 Free Ebooks, which include short ebooks among their listings.

5. Word of mouth

I’ve let it be known that I’m interested in finding good short ebooks, and people have started making recommendations. And along those lines, I’ll open the comments on this post for at least a few days. If you have ideas for how to find good short ebooks, or if you want to recommend a particular book, leave a comment. And of course, you can always email me at riverhorse@tungstenhippo.com.

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Comments

When I was in grad school, I hosted monthly short-story potlucks. People brought a dish and a short story to share.

Are you as excited about Alice Munro's recognition as I am?
http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2006/05/tale-of-two-alices.html

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