Every so often, book discussion threads take up the popularity (or unpopularity) of short stories. And there's no doubt that novels sell better, and take up far more space on the store racks. There's no book store in the town where I live; the local racks are at Wal-Mart and one of the large grocery stores, and when I scan them I seldom find any books of short stories at all unless one of Stephen King's collections has been reissued.
It wasn't always like this. When I started buying paperbacks, there were plenty of collections to be found. Among the writers whose short story collections graced the racks then were: Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Fredric Brown, Richard Matheson, Stanley Ellin, C. M. Kornbluth, Jerome Bixby, Fritz Leiber, Damon Knight, Theodore Sturgeon, Henry Kuttner, Isaac Bashevis Singer, John O'Hara, Cornell Woolrich, Irwin Shaw, Richard Yates, J. G. Ballard, Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, and others. You couldn't move in the paperback aisle without tripping over anthologies edited by Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, Judith Merril, Frederik Pohl, or Damon Knight. And that's not considering volumes from publishers like Signet Classics offering collections from classic writers like Poe, Hawthorne, James, Twain, Kipling, and others. As I noted in an earlier post, this was the kind of selection to be found on the racks at one of the neighborhood pharmacies. To find large selections of short stories these days, you'll have to hit a good-sized bookstore.
But the advent of the ebook reader means that short stories are easier to find in ebook formats than they often are on most of your local racks. Among recent ebook releases, you'll find: The Best of Joe Haldeman, which includes a wonderfully creepy Vietnam War horror story called "Graves," and this story alone is worth the price of admission; Jack Finney's About Time, which gathers most of the best stories from his two earlier collections -- several of these stories would have made fine episodes of the original Twilight Zone, and while a few of its selections like "The Third Level," 'I'm Scared," and "Of Missing Persons" may be familiar, there's a lovely lesser-known short fantasy here called "Where the Cluetts Are" which is one of Finney's best; The Horrible Dummy and Other Stories, Nightshade & Damnations, and The Best of Gerald Kersh, all by Gerald Kersh -- Kersh is having a nice revival at the moment, with Faber Finds and Valancourt bringing back several long unavailable novels and short story collections as print and ebook releases; E-Reads has published two collections of John Brunner's short stories, From This Day Forward and Out of My Mind -- the latter includes some of Brunner's best dark short works, such as "The Totally Rich," "The Last Lonely Man," and "The Nail in the Middle of the Hand;" Dennis Etchison's first collection of short horror stories, the award winning The Dark Country; John O'Hara's New York Stories; James Everington's new collection of weird stories, Falling Over; two more volumes of Robert Silverberg's collected short fiction, Hot Times in Magma City and We Are for the Dark.
Novels may sell more copies, but there's a LOT of fine short fiction out there and it's easily available on any ebook reader.