Many readers think that short fiction is not a serious reading

27 Oct 2011 in international | questo post è lungo 780 parole

Short Fiction Week

_Piotr Kowalczyk

Piotr Kowalczyk. Self-publisher, iPhone artist and mobile technology expert with an extended experience in advertising and design. Writes for TeleRead, Digital Book World and FutureBook. Founder of [Ebook Friendly](http://ebookfriendly.com/) – an ebook discovery site designed to let users focus on reading.__

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Do you see some new possibilities for the short fiction market in digital publishing era? How is it changing?

There has never been a better time for short fiction. The habit of reading is changing. The readers are changing. We have less time and are more distracted. That means a lot of us may become unable to focus on reading a book for a couple of hours a day.
When you look at web content, what you read, watch or listen, you realize everything is given in small chunks. It’s the way most people get used to consume information.
Yes, people may spend an hour reading their favorite blogs or watching movies on Vimeo, but it’s not one blog post or one clip. “Many” is a standard for digital, opposite to “single” for analog.
Internet users read stories of various kind, fiction and non-fiction, with beginning, middle and end, with emotions, inspiration and reflection - all in 4,000 words, or 1,000 words, or 140 characters (see Twitter fiction).
When we think of how books and reading evolve, we have to be aware of what is most dangerous. It’s how many people perceive reading books. It’s time-consuming.
“Oh, I don’t really have time to read a book” - such reflection makes people turn to Facebook or YouTube, where they eventually spend a couple of hours a day.
“Reading books is not a huge time sacrifice” - this is what we should be telling book fugitives, and where short fiction comes with help.

*Do you think that readers are going to get used to interstitial reading? *

****Users are already consuming information in small bites and “in between”. They don’t have to learn it, they do it. Checking e-mails, Twitter updates, or reading RSS feeds - this is all happening - on the bus, in a queue or when you prepare a coffee.
To tell people that reading a book can join this set of activities is not easy, though. Why? Because what is written in many readers’ DNA is that short fiction is not a serious reading.
I made an iPhone story to address this issue. You don’t reach for a short story because it’s not worth it, and you don’t reach for a novel, because you don’t have time. It’s where book fugitives escape.
One good short story is better than one bad novel. It’s pretty obvious and anyone can agree with that. The challenge is to promote to readers good quality short fiction, and keep repeating it’s fully worth time and money - especially that it’s not a lot of time and money.

As a reader, do you enjoy short fiction? Why would you suggest to read it?

I love short form and I’m involved in it on both sides: as the one who enjoys reading it and the one who enjoys creating it. That’s why I was working as a copywriter in ad agencies and that’s why I turned to digital storytelling, which is an unbelievable way to inspire and get inspired.
40kBooks, Kindle Singles and Byliner are my favorite destinations for short form reading. I’ve recently started to read The Polo Match by Rhys Hughes. It’s a story about an absurdity investigator Sampietro Mischief and his pet monster Chives.
It was a revelation, when I discovered it. I love absurdist fiction. Roland Topor, Etgar Keret and Sławomir Mrożek are my favorite writers and they hugely influenced my own writing. Now I can find books in a genre I love without any problem - and this is a beauty of the Internet.
Other ways to discover short fiction are Fictionaut, a site with lots of great stories and poems. I’m also reading, every Friday, stories shared on Twitter with a #FridayFlash tag. They are flash fiction stories - no longer than 1,000 words, lots of very good ones.
I’m sure it’s short stories to come first to new areas and create new literary genres. Together with interactivity, they will become a symbol of reading in digital times.

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