Giving Short Stories a Shelf Life

I stumbled across Anthology Builder recently–a new discovery for me though I think it’s been around a while. Customers can visit the site, design a custom anthology based on the short stories available there, and have it printed and mailed to them. If they like, they can put the anthology they designed into the library so that others can buy the same mix of stories.

The stories seem to be mostly works in the public domain or reprints that authors have uploaded. The site seems to have some editorial process–the requirement that stories be reprints keeps the noise-to-signal ratio from getting too high. I checked out the available stories and there’s some good stuff there, particularly in the SF/fantasy genres, with which I’m most familiar. There are a few stories from authors I’ve written about here before, including Rhonda Eudaly, Samantha Henderson, and Marsheila Rockwell. Funnily enough, I found an anthology put together by Therese Arkenberg–I’ve also written about her. Anthology Builder also has a partnership with the interesting Book View Cafe.

It’s a neat idea, but I’m a little uncertain about it. I love short fiction, and I like the idea of reading an anthology put together by people who interest me. In terms of building anthologies myself, I think I would only do it if I were intimately familiar with all the stories that went into it. The discovery aspect of the site and the anthology building aspect seem like they may not be entirely compatible. This has an almost-but-not-quite feeling to me. Still, I plan to try out some of the anthologies in the library, as well as building my own anthology. I can also see myself using the site to pick up “collected stories” of an author I like.

Authors get some small amount of royalties from the site–each book sold gives a $1.50 royalty, divided among the authors whose stories were included.

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