Some months ago I blogged about the eWorld’s potential to enliven the long-moribund market for short fiction. I’m not sure that’s happening, but neither am I sure that it’s not. What I do know is that I’ve ePublished a few dozen short stories, and while some of them have been about as much in demand as ice in Antarctica, others have performed in a spritely manner.

ehrengraf_ftdMore recently I tried an experiment, making all the Ehrengraf stories exclusive to Kindle, and enrolling them in Amazon’s Kindle Select program. (There were ten of them at the time, written over a couple of decades, featuring the poetry-loving defense attorney who never loses a case.) I took them down from Nook and Smashwords (where they’d been selling like sand in the Sahara) and took the opportunity to give away the first story (“The Ehrengraf Defense”) for a couple of days. A lot of people downloaded it, and many liked the sample enough to go on to some of the other stories.

I’d already begun work on an eleventh Ehrengraf story, and when “The Ehrengraf Settlement” was finished, I immediately made it a Kindle Select title. And, with the great formatting assistance of Jaye Manus, I bundled all of the stories into a book, called it Ehrengraf For the Defense, and priced it at $4.99. (The bad news is it’s put the brakes on sales of the individual stories. The good news, which utterly trumps the bad news, is that Ehrengraf For the Defense is flying off Amazon’s virtual shelves. At the moment it’s my most popular title.) Besides selling a slew of copies, EFTD has been borrowed a dozen times by Amazon Prime members, who can borrow one book a month at no charge as a perk of membership.

As of today, I’ve moved a dozen other short stories to Kindle Select, available there and nowhere else. In the weeks to come I’ll be making some of them briefly available as free downloads, and if you follow my blog you’ll know when something’s up for grabs.

Because the stories I picked are all of the darker sort, I each “A Story From the Dark Side”, and if you pop that phrase into Amazon’s search engine, they’ll all show up on one page. Once again, I was lucky enough to get Jaye Manus to format them, and give them a uniform series-type look, and I think you’ll like the way they turned out.

And even as I write these lines, I know that some of you are furious at me for depriving Nooksters of the chance to read these stories.

So let me explain.

I’ve got nothing against Nook, and indeed I sell a lot of novels there. But I’ve never done well with short fiction for the Nook, and I’m not the first writer to notice that Nook readers just don’t seem interested in short stories. I’m not sure why this should be so, but the empirical evidence is persuasive. Whether my goal is to increase income or maximize readership (and the two are by no means mutually exclusive) it’s in my interest to do business where business is done. If I’m selling ten times as many stories for Kindle as for Nook—and the spread’s probably even higher than that—I’d be a fool not to focus on Kindle, where I can take advantage of the several benefits reserved for Kindle Select authors.

bigstock_threeinthesidepocketAlong with the Nook partisans, there’s a small tribe of Amazon haters out there, who see that company as conspiring to take over the world. And perhaps they are, and so is Google, and so is Facebook, and so is eBay—and so is every other highly successful enterprise. Those of you who are appalled at the growth of Amazon, and want to save Barnes & Noble, might take a moment to remember a couple of years ago, when you were appalled at the increasing dominance of B&N, and wanted to save the great independent bookstores that they and Borders were putting out of business.

And, if you’ve been around a while and have a good memory, you may recall how those great independent stores became great in the first place—by doing everything possible to choke out the small neighborhood bookshops and dominate their local markets entirely. Sometimes it’s a dog eat dog world out there, and sometimes it’s the other way around.

End of rant.

I should point out, for anyone who doesn’t have a Kindle and doesn’t want to be pressured into buying one, that almost any electronic device other than a competing eReader (like the Nook) can be equipped with a free Kindle app. You can download one for your Mac or PC, your iPhone or Android, your iPad or iPod, and quite possibly your toaster oven. My eldest daughter reads everything on her iPhone, she prefers it to anything else including a printed book. The Amazon Prime borrowing feature is limited to Kindle owners, but a free app gives you access to everything else.

And here’s the list of Stories From the Dark Side:

A Chance to Get Even
Catch and Release
Dolly’s Trash & Treasures
Headaches and Bad Dreams
In For a Penny
Like a Bone in the Throat
Sweet Little Hands
Three in the Side Pocket
Welcome to the Read World
Who Knows Where It Goes
You Don’t Even Feel It

I don’t expect to make a book out of them. They don’t go together as obviously as the Ehrengraf stories, or the Scudder stories collected in The Night and the Music. By all means take advantage of the freebies when they come along. And, when you’ve got a spare 99¢ you’re willing to part with, and some spare moments that a short story would fit into neatly, well, click one of the links and enjoy.