This post has everything to do with a rise in eBook only novellas and nothing to do with Bob Dylan. Kindly ignore Bob Dylan. Addendum: don’t ignore him forever, just in this post as he really has no place here. I just figured I’d stick with a Dylan theme because I am in charge of this blog and therefore you will listen to everything I have to say.
Or you know, click the back button. Or look at this adorable picture of a baby hippo which has been distracting me all day. But if you love young adult literature, dystopias, short story prequels, novellas and other such awesomeness, please stick around.
Right, eBooks. Perhaps because December is a slow month for book releases or perhaps to promote the various upcoming releases of books in their various series, I have been stumbling across quite a few eBook only versions of young adult novellas and short stories. This digital only concept may confuse a less technologically advanced generation – and by that I mean, my older relatives who think PDFs are called “PBS files… No wait, PFD files.” “Do you know what your eBooks can’t do that my book can? I can pull an Edgar Allan Poe anthology off my shelf and turn to any short story and read it. You can’t do that with a digital book.” “Do you know there’s a thing called internships now?”
This is a real thing that actually happened to me.
Anyway, digital only books are smart for multiple reasons. One, if it’s a prequel or story set within the universe of a series it promotes the upcoming book in that series, keeps the reader excited to continue the series and also helps with the anticipation while waiting for that new book to be released. Secondly, it’s affordable, for both the buyer and the publisher. Since it’s digital only there is no overhead cost for printing the book, and in turn the reader can buy digital only copies for super cheap, anywhere from $0.99 to $3.99 depending on the length of the book. (Note: Kindly continue to ignore Bob Dylan.)
Not bad considering it’s not something you legally own, can be rescinded by the distributor at any point in time and isn’t a tangible object. Good thing you only paid a few bucks for it!
Macmillan and Harper Collins seems to be at the forefront of this trend, but they are by no means the sole publishers in on the eBook only game. The short story digital only collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel by S.G. Browne (review HERE) comes from Simon and Schuster and Daniel Water’s zombie romance anthology Generation Dead: Stitches, which coveres various shorts set in his Generation Dead universe was released by Disney Hyperion. And who knows what the future will hold for digital editions. I’m crossing my fingers for Smell-O-Reading.
I have compiled a list of the newest released or about to be released eBook only offerings below. They range from short stories that fill in gaps in existing series, novellas that are from different POV’s but run concurrent with existing novels (don’t worry, none are by Stephanie Meyer), brand new novellas and prequels. Good prequels, not Phantom Menace type prequels.
The Queen’s Army (The Lunar Chronicles 1.5) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Length: 32 pages
The second short story in The Lunar Chronicles, a young adult science fiction dystopic fractured fairy tale genre series of awesome. The Queen’s Army follows Ze’ev, a boy conscripted into the Lunar Queen’s army as a brand new wolf-like breed of soldier. Z will figure heavily into the second book in the series, Scarlet which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. The first short story offered through Tor was Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles 0.5), a prequel to the first full length novel Cinder (review HERE), which tells the story of a cyborg version of Cinderella.
Random aside: Tor has also released a prequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making entitled The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While, which follows antagonist Mallow, the girl who was ripped out of Fairyland.
Stupid Perfect World by Scott Westerfeld
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Length: 55 pages
Two of my favorite things in one novella: a dystopian society and Hamlet. Scott’s incredibly inventive novella follows Kieran and Maria, who tweak their bioframes to require sleep and remove hormonal balancers (respectively) for their Scarcity class. In a world where one can teleport to the alps for their elective or shop on the moon, students are forced to live through a problem experienced by their forefathers as an assignment to better appreciate their current technologically advanced world. Romance, mind computers called headspace, a “psycho prince guy” and plenty of meekers, Westerfeld creates a perfectly stupid world. See what I did there?
The First Lie: A Lying Game Novella by Sara Shepard
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Length: Wouldn’t I like to know? Spoilers: I would.
This prequel novella in Shepard’s much less exciting series The Lying Game (review HERE) follows Sutton Mercer before her tragic death and details just how she got together with love interest Thayer. Shepard will continue her novella writing trend with True Lies, which will lead up to Sutton’s death and be published right before the release of the final book in the series: The Lying Game #6: Seven Minutes in Heaven in July. I’m almost free of the guiltiest pleasure ever! Thankfully, the Pretty Little Liars series is much better written. Although with the thirteenth book recently announced who knows if it will ever have a resolution. Besides the three we’ve already been given.
Annabel (Delirium 0.5) by Lauren Oliver
Release Date: December 26, 2012
Length: 50 pages
Another story in the Delirium universe, which is set in a dystopic society where citizens are cured of a dangerous diseased called amor deliria nervosa (love) when they come of age. While the first short story Hana (Delirium 1.5) runs concurrent with the original novel and follows protagonist Lena’s friend Hana, Annabel is a prequel that eventually runs into the events in Delirium and focuses on Lena’s mother Annabel. She has been absent the entire series so it should be particularly interesting to read from her POV. The short story/novella is due out before the final book in the series Requiem. Is it here yet? I need to find out how this love triangle is resolved, it’s killing me!
The Prince: A Selection Novella by Kiera Cass
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Length: 128 pages
Maybe I just read The Selection because the girls on the cover were in pretty turquoise frilly dresses. And maybe it was because it’s set in a dystopic society with a caste system and a monarchy that chooses princesses reality television show style. Either way, it’s a guilty pleasure YA novel at the highest level (albeit one that came with the added stigma of a whole a lot of internet drama centered around poor agent practices). The Prince is set during the plot of The Selection, but told from the POV of Prince Maxon as he woos a castle full of potential mates. The second book in the series The Elite (which has an equally pretty cover that will entice me to buy it) will be out next year. Assuming there’s no apocalypse.
Hopefully these novella offerings help to tide you over until the actual sequels and various other incarnations come out. And if not, I see a tricky espionage type plot wherein you break into publishing houses to get your hands on some ARCs. May I suggest this inflatable Cthulhu beard as a disguise?