Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Will e-tailing of short stories hurt literary magazines like The New Yorker?

A blog post published by Publishers Weekly asks whether the advent of short stories sold discretely in the Amazon Kindle Singles store might have a huge impact on literary magazines. 
In particular, Gabe Habash muses whether the e-tailing of short stories might both benefit authors and put weekly magazines like The New Yorker in the shadow of Amazon. 
The blog post looks at the $1.99 cost of the story "The Bathtub Spy" by bestselling novelist Tom Rachman and calculates that, at 40 minute's reading time, it works out as the equivalent value of a two-hour movie. He says that Rachman would have to sell roughly 5,400 copies (at the customary 70/30 split) to make the same money he might have been paid for his story published in The New Yorker
If you’re a reader, you obviously get more bang for your buck if you pick up The New Yorker, and you get a lot of quality content surrounding the short story if it turns out you don’t enjoy it. However, if Amazon were to start putting up quality short stories every week (and you could argue they already have), the consumer has the benefit of picking and choosing stories to put down money for every week. If Amazon released a story that didn’t sound good to you, you could just save your money and wait for next week’s story.



Blogger nathan said...

I don't pretend to be an expert in magazine economics, but I'm fairly sure a publication as big as the New Yorker knows better than to build its financial model around a loss-leader.

9:46 pm  
Blogger Judie said...

Considering how few magazines publish short stories,and how difficult it is for a pre-published author to break in to a publication like the New Yorker, I think that e-tailing may be the way to go.

1:09 pm  

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