I’ve been keeping an eye on a new publishing company, Plympton, and I thought I’d share what they’re doing. (Note: This is not paid content; I’m genuinely interested in their innovative work.)
I recently met Jennifer 8. Lee at a journalism conference. Lee is a reporter who launched Plympton, a digital publisher of serial fiction, with co-founder Yael Goldstein Love. In predicting publishing’s future, Lee and Love have looked to the past and drawn inspiration from serialized authors such as Dickens, Flaubert and Conrad.
Plympton is taking advantage of the rise in tablet and e-readers to release serial fiction. The e-installments of each book will be released biweekly or monthly, ranging from 7,000 to 25,000 words per issue. The founders hope to launch the careers of new writers and to expand the networks of already influential authors by offering solid editorial assistance and tapping into new reading technology such as tablets and e-readers.
Online serialization of stories are not new; Byliner, the Atavist, and Longform, to name a few, have made names for themselves publishing nonfiction and fiction stories of varying length. Plympton plans to focus exclusively upon publishing fiction. When I asked Lee, a well-known nonfiction writer, why she’s focusing on fiction, she said simply, “That’s where the money’s at.”
And she may be right; their month-long Kickstarter campaign raised nearly double the amount they had planned. It didn’t hurt that Plympton’s first three titles were featured prominently in Amazon’s most recent Kindle event, when CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the Kindle Serials program.
This is an interesting business story, but more than that, it’s a compelling literary story. Publishers have scrambled for years to find a financially sound model for digital books, but Lee and Love may have found a simple solution that speaks both to the past and the future of fiction.
It’s not the only way forward, but it seems to be one viable path. I’m very interested to see how Plympton does in the next few months.
Categories: On Writing
With Kindle Serials , Amazon hopes to reinvent a format that already exists. Jeff Bezos dragged out the obligatory Dickens reference at the LA press conference, but serial fiction had a presence online before Amazon (and a presence offline after Dickens: Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” and Candace Bushnell’s “Sex and the City,” for instance). The website Tuesday Serial compiles links to many online serials and offers advice about writing them. Authors like Claudia Christian and Lyn Thorne-Alder have written online serials for years. And longform journalism site and e-singles publisher Byliner launched Byliner Serials last month.