It took me a bit to decide what I wanted to write about for this issue’s editorial. I feel like there is a great discussion already going on about women and our place in the world of genre fiction, fandom, STEM, etc. What more could I add to the conversation?
So, instead of writing about that I’m going to talk a bit about something I’d like to see happen in the publishing industry in the near future and also a trend that has me quite excited.
Despite the proclamations of doom I’ve been hearing lately, the printed word is in no more trouble than it was when the paperback arrived on the scene. In fact, I think it’s refreshing to hear that ebooks are causing a kerfuffle. It means people are still passionate about reading and that how they read is still a decidedly personal choice. And as much as there is noise about cheap ebooks killing print, well, I have only ever had requests for print editions of anything I’ve published in ebook. From what I’ve seen, when people love something, they still want to hold it in their hands.
So, I would love to see the ebook debate settled sometime soon so we can all get back to doing what we love to do with books: enjoying reading and writing them.
In the midst of that debate, there is also a quiet revolution going on below the surface. The novella is making a comeback. I, for one, think this is brilliant. The advances in print-on-demand and ebook technologies free us from the bounds of page count minimums and maximums. The idea that a writer can tell a story in whatever length it takes, rather than trying to grow it into a full novel or shrink it to fit a short story is so freeing to their creativity.
This is just one step closer to the kind of writerly creative freedom that many if us are seeking. We have the technology that provides us infinite flexibility. Let’s use it!
Had it been a few decades ago, Professor Tolkien would not have been forced to break his epic story into three books. At the same time, a book like “The Last Unicorn” would likely not have been published nowadays, as it is rather short and not really primed for sequels. But I challenge you to tell me you would change a single word of either book.
I look forward to seeing more novellas in the coming years. I can’t wait to dip my toes into new waters and refesh my reader’s palette. And once we get people hooked on those, I’ll be right there leading the charge to bring short stories fully back into the public eye. This is going to be great for writers, of course, but I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a reader. We’re being fought over and courted by all sides. Our choices are endless, and oh, what stories we get to revel in and take for a ride.
And the length of the journey is up to us. We can stroll down a lane, not far from home, or step down the long and dusty road that will take us far from home and back again. What an amazing time to be a reader.