Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where have all the Short Stories gone?

Normally I post artwork and discuss it on this site, but this post is about something that has been bothering me for a long time. The picture has nothing to do with the post other than it is from a comic I published on the Kindle called Euphony in E.

I bought a Kindle a year ago, and one of the many things I loved best about it was the selection of short stories I could download for $.59, $.79, or $1.50; stories that were printed in a magazine years ago and haven't been seen since. Stories that I wouldn't even have known about let alone read otherwise. Stories by Charles Sheffield, Kevin J. Anderson, and L. Sprague De Camp that are as good as it gets. And download I did.

The other day I was browsing the Kindle store to see if any new gems had been added, and to my shock and horror, all these great stories that I read and loved were gone! How can an eBook go out of print? Ok, I know they didn't go out of print, but Fictionwise's contract with Amazon must have expired. Still, I was upset.

I love digital content, but this is an excellent example of the biggest problem with it: licensing and availability. The rights-holder decides to yank it, and the story is gone. This happens with music and movies as well. A physical book isn't so easy to yank, and they can and do show up on eBay and used bookstores. Digital content with DRM makes reselling and redistributing very difficult. (I'm familiar with pirate sites, but those don't help build a market, so I avoid them.)

It's a shame that in a world where we now have the ability for a store to carry EVERY title every written at a near zero cost and never have to worry about going out of print, stories and books aren't more available and more plentiful than they were and are under the current system.

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