Practical and economic constraints of the publishing industry have long placed restrictions on the length—and thus to some extent the content—of novels. As the industry has grown more digital, people began to ask why we still had to stick to the same industry standards. We don’t have to worry about how thick a book’s bindling can, or what the production costs and shipping costs will amount to.
An electronic book should cost less to manufacture than a print book, but what, exactly, is the value of content? Some would argue we’ve never charged for content. Many readers and authors have called for more freedom in the length and content of works that should no longer be restricted by these economic concerns.
The economics of bookstores also set a lower bound. Shorter works – individual stories, lectures, broadsides, and songs – that sold well in the 17th and 18th centuries became difficult to sell in the 20th and vanished from bookstores. Enterprises from Amazon Kindle Singles to Murdoch”s The Daily are exploring this boundary.
The Atavist is an answer to that call, an app for Kindle and iPad that considers itself a boutique publisher of digital literature . Atavista is releasing works at $2.99 for a work that runs roughly 12,000 words (and will soon be releasing them for $1.99 on the Kindle and eventually Android). It offers an unobtrusive back-channel of multimedia content, and considers itself a hybrid between books and magazines.