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Book Business January/February 2013 : Page 7

: 59 Percentage of Americans, according to a Bowker survey, who report “no interest” in buying an ebook Will YA Revive The Short Story? ed the waters with the much shorter Sword .) How best to navi-gate this new intersec-tion of media while remaining true to the original works, which are hybrids of text and design themselves? “I’m concerned with image as well as text,” explains Danielewski, who’s quite aware of the cognitive minefield through which he’s tip-toeing. “There’s some-Mark Z. Danielewski thing that language moving away from the novel does—it tickles certain parts entirely and moving into a of our mind. It registers in new art form?” asks Dan-a way that image doesn’t. ielewski. “Expectations need … There’s also something to be put aside and man-about image that’s tremen-aged differently. … We didn’t dously powerful and highly want to get too ahead of the mnemonic. … My vocation text itself so that it became has always encountered this an animated movie of sorts. bifurcation between image That’s where we spent the and text. And maybe there’s most time [on the project], a third part with music. What determining what not to do. my books do, I’m coming At what point are we mov-around to, is explore that ing too many letters around? world between them. It’s not At what point is there too one or the other. It’s actu-much sound? At what point ally that liminal place on the are we interfering too much threshold of image, on the with the whole experience?” threshold of language, that It’s a question Dan-maybe conjures, tickles, en-ielewski will grapple with acts something that’s a little as he and Sullam convert new.” the more intricate House of When you put it that way, Leaves and Only Revolutions it’s almost a comfort to know into digital formats. (The that Danielewski’s the one on two started with House of that front line where ebooks Leaves but “that was so im-and multimedia meet—test-mense and complicated that ing the limits, fully aware of we backed down” and test-the implications. x O nce upon a time, there wasn’t much market potential for YA short stories. These days, though, digital publish-ing has made one-off narratives an appealing format for read-ers and a powerful marketing tool for publishers. In December, Harper Collins debuted its new digital imprint HarperTeen Impulse, focusing on YA short stories and novellas and publishing between one and four works a month. Among the first releases was “Breathless” by So-phie Jordan, a companion to her bestselling Firelight fantasy series. Additional titles include stories by Sarah Mlynowski, Cynthia Hand and Walter Dean Myers. The standalone original shorts, priced at 99 cents to $2.99, enable the publisher to quickly deliver content while enticing digi-reluctant teens to buy ebooks. As a marketing tool, shorts engage teen consumers hun-gry for more content between releases in a series. “If you loved the first book in a trilogy and it seems like an in-terminable amount of time until the second book comes out, here’s a digital novella to tide you over,” says Christina Colangelo, director of integrated market-ing at HarperCollins. “Whether they’re from a different character’s perspective or offering insight into a part of the world that the novel doesn’t explore, these are rich pieces. And beyond that, we’re hop-ing [Teen] Impulse will also be a place to introduce new authors to our already-Sophie Jordan engaged audience.” Short stories are even working their way into publishing contracts. When debut author Lissa Price sold her novel Starters to Random House, the contract included three shorts set in the futuristic world of the book. The plan was for the first to come out just before the book’s Lissa Price publication, with subsequent stories to be released before the sequel, each offering a glimpse into secondary characters’ perspectives while enriching the novel with new subplots. Price says that short-form content is an ideal fit for to-day’s readers. “Publishers are looking to reach people using phones and iPads, and short stories lend themselves to being read on these devices.” x —Elisa Ludwig Elisa Ludwig is the author of Pretty Crooked , the first of a YA trilogy from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. | FEBRUARY 2013 7

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