Alasdair Stuart, our guest this week on Beyond the Trope, heads up a company that puts out fantastic short stories, all in audio. This is fascinating to me because I'd never heard of this method of publication before I heard about the Escape Artists podcasts. Yes, I'd heard of audio books, and I knew a few people who self-published their novels in podcast form, but short stories? It was totally new to me.
And it made PERFECT sense!
This year's Hugo for short fiction went to a story that I'd come across in audio format. A different organization that Escape Artists, but still a fantastic story. I'm not sure about previous Hugo years, or any of the other awards that have been given out since short stories started getting consistently released in audible periodicals. But I have to say that this is a real art form.
For me, the first wave of new media that got my attention was web comics. They started telling jokes, then telling stories, in a way that the "funny pages" never did. And they made comics accessible to me (I never got into comic books as a kid because I wasn't allowed, and as an adult, I never took the time, though I greatly appreciate the skill behind the process). E-books, when they first got introduced, felt weird. They were basically PDFs that one read on a computer screen. Even with my phone, that's fairly uncomfortable, but back in the old days, monitors flickered and flashed and weighed so much that moving to a comfortable spot on the couch to read wasn't an option (unless you liked having fifty pounds of computer monitor on your lap).
With the many advancements we're making in the world of technology, publishing is going to continue to adapt. Escape Artists proves that. Magazines are harder and harder to fund, especially literary publications with a genre focus. The fact that the folks over at Escape Artists are consistently providing quality content for listeners is impressive. And it's important. It's giving writers a place to go to get their work professionally published. It gives "readers" (in this case, listeners) somewhere to get great stories without having to dig around in the magazine section of the book store, hoping the five copies that come in each quarter are still there.
It's providing a guide to the publishing industry at large as to how they can, and should, adapt to the changing times. And, to their credit, many of them are trying to adapt. Just look at BookShots. And Tor.com. Because of innovators, publishing will continue to grow. As long as that innovation is good for creators and consumers. If either of those groups get cheated in the process, then it's all over, and that's not hyperbole.