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Browsing for Short eBooks

James Patterson recently announced a new initiative in publishing short ebooks, called Bookshots. The idea is to publish short, fast-paced stories. Here is a good summary, if you want more details. This particular initiative doesn't seem like it will be publishing the sort of books I usually like to read, but I am happy to see more publishers recognizing the potential of shorter writing.

All of the buzz about Bookshots made me realize that it has been a long time since I first wrote about browsing to find short ebooks, and a lot has changed in the interim. Of the three sites I listed in my original post, only The Atavist is still helpful for finding short ebooks. You can visit The Atavist Magazine's story page, and then seach for titles in your favorite ebook store. The Atavist has published some great short ebooks, like Company Eight and American Hippopotamus.

There are a lot of other publishers to check out now, too. If you enjoy the "like a magazine article, but longer and more in depth" vibe of The Atavist, check out the ebooks published by Deca. An example of their books is Come See the Mountain. The Washington Post also seems to be experimenting with repackaging some of their reporting into short ebooks (see, for instance, The Resistance). You can see a list of their ebooks on their website, but it is not clear if all of them are short ebooks. Interestingly, the short ones do show up if you browse Kindle Singles, even though the usual terms of the Singles program are that the content cannot have been previously published. I guess there are advantages to being owned by Jeff Bezos.

If you are looking for more non-fiction and don't mind a mix of excerpts of longer books and things that have somewhat academic writing, look at Chicago Shorts. These are published by The University of Chicago press, and I've enjoyed all of their offerings that I have tried. See, for instance Excellent Things in Women and Ice Age Forensics. They also published Murder in Ancient China: Two Judge Dee Stories, which were really fun mysteries to read.

Another imprint that includes a lot of excerpts as well as stand alone short stories is Vintage Shorts. Examples that I've posted here include The Other Week and Full House. Amazingly, there doesn't seem to be a home page for this imprint on the parent Knopf Doubleday website, but their page announcing the program has a lot of titles, and you can get a fairly good list of their books by searching Amazon with the phrase "A Vintage Short", and they are on Facebook.

Shebooks is another good source of short ebooks. They offer a subscription option, but you can also buy their books directly from retailers. Examples of their books that I've posted here are Almost Her and Jamaica Dreams.

If you are looking for fiction, not non-fiction, there are several publishers to check out. Many of the Vintage Shorts are fiction. Ploughshares Solos are another good option. Villa Bohème, a book I really enjoyed, is a Ploughshares Solo. If you don't mind being limited to what is available on Kindle, Amazon's short story imprint, StoryFront, also publishes some good stories. An example I've posted here is Satya. They also seem to collect some (or all?) of the StoryFront stories into a literary journal called Day One.

If you're looking for Sci-Fi and Fantasy short ebooks, Tor has started publishing more novellas. They always republished short writing that originally appeared on Tor.com (e.g., First Flight, Kia and Gio), but now they are also publishing novellas. Binti is an example of this.

I haven't found any other imprints specializing in Sci-Fi/Fantasy short writing, but there are of course a lot of great magazines that do this, and some of them also publish anthologies. For instance, Crossed Genres' anthologies are wonderful. I've posted Long Hidden and Oomph here, but there are more to read, too.

Finally, I should mention the small publishing company I run. Annorlunda Books publishes short books (novella length or shorter) and collections of short writing. My criteria are: I like it, it is well-written, and I learned something interesting or it made me think. I have three new books coming out later this year. In the meantime, check out Unspotted and Okay, So Look, and if you enjoy classic short stories, look at Missed Chances and Love and Other Happy Endings.

That is a much longer list than I could have assembled when I first started Tungsten Hippo, which makes me really happy. And it may not be complete! If you know of other publishers of short ebooks, add them in the comments, or send me an email. I'm always happy to find new sources of things to read!

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