Changes are afoot in the world of books and publishing – and a Welsh publisher is embracing them. With attention spans shrinking, short stories, sudden fiction, essays and novellas are rising in popularity and a new digital pamphlet format, thus far only launched in the US is embracing this shift. Now Parthian Books intends to launch four new ebooks in this format – including my novella Arrivals which we'll be celebrating with other Cardiff writers at a launch party tonight.
Amazon describes the Kindle Single as an ebook that's 'twice the length of a New Yorker feature or as much as a few chapters of a typical book'. The l0,000 to 30,000 word digital pamphlets will be produced by writers, scientists, business leaders, historians, politicians, publishers and other big thinkers. In fact, in their announcement of the Kindle Single launch Amazon writes the size of these ebooks offers the 'perfect, natural length to lay out a single killer idea, well researched, well argued and well illustrated—whether it's a business lesson, a political point of view, a scientific argument, or a beautifully crafted essay on a current event'. It also offers a more financially viable way of publishing for those important, but not mass market publications, and a lifeline for non-Faber poets, the small presses and literary or niche magazines.
The Kindle Single format, in its official capacity, will be hitting UK shoressometime soon and offers these quick-read books at a fraction of the price of hard copy novels, on a budget more in line with a magazine or Sunday newspaper. In sales terms, the Kindle is already taking off, the Amazon US store stocks over 950,000 Kindle titles and Amazon was reporting that Kindle edition sales were outstripping paperbacks in the US (105 Kindle ebooks:100 paperbacks).
Welsh publisher Parthian Books are known for supporting new writers with their Nu anthologies (Nu2: Memorable Firsts launches in July) andBright Young Things series – the next instalment, 10 of the Best features five new poets including Cardiff's Mab Jones and launches next month.
By picking raw talent Parthian has launched the careers of Rachel Trezise, Deborah Kay Davies, Tyler Keevil and Rebecca Hunt, so it seems right that it should be a pioneer in terms of embracing the new e-ink technology, and creating the first ebook-only launch by a Welsh publisher. Parthian starts its e-ink love-in by launching four ebook titles following the new Kindle Single model.
The four Parthian Kindle titles include my novella Arrivals, from my Edge Hill short story prize long-listed collection The Art of Contraception and Muscles Came Easy by former Wales Book of The Year winner Aled Islwyn. The new Kindle ebook format also allows forgotten greats from their Library of Wales series to reach a wider, global audience. The stories can move with the times. As such two revered Library of Walestitles – A Thing of Nought by Hilda Vaughan, and The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen will also see their Kindle ebooks launched this month.
Tonight Parthian Books are throwing a party at Y Fuwch Goch (The Red Cow) on Womanby Street to mark the global launch of these four skinny Kindle books. Throwing a launch party for ebooks, to some, may seem a bit weird. How does it work? In tonight's case, much the same as any other book launch – there will be readings, chatter and hopefully some book sales... although authors may have to sign autograph books and torsos rather than your Kindle screens. Co-founder and editor of the amazing literary magazine The Raconteur, Dylan Moore, will be our host for the night. Living Cardiff-based writers Aled Islwyn and myself will both read extracts from our novellas (on Kindles, of course) while Gwilym Games, the editor of Machenalia for the Friends of Arthur Machen, will read an extract from The Great God Pan and Laura Wainwright will read a short extract from A Thing of Nought. Dylan may ask us a couple of questions, and so may you. Then Cardiff's DJ Dave 'Grooveslave' Morris will spin some tunes while we mingle, chat, exchange money with the bar staff and play with our Kindles.
You don't have to buy a Kindle to read Kindle ebooks. There is a Kindle app that can be downloaded onto your laptop, iPad or mobile phone that enable you to buy and read books in the Kindle format. For those of you not quite ready to take the digital leap but interested in the titles, hard copies of A Thing of Nought,The Great God Pan, Out With It, and The Art of Contraception will also be for sale on the night, and can all be bought from Parthian Books. Entrance to tonight's launch party is free, the event starts at 7pm.