Cover to Cover #406B: The Promise of Digital Short Fiction

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Orbit Books (an imprint of Hachette Books Group) recently announced a digital short fiction publishing program, to launch later this year.

Orbit VP Tim Holman was also our guest on "Cover to Cover" #353A last year

Listener Review: Web Genii brings us a review of The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg, the first in her new Collegium Magica trilogy.

The Library: New books added to The Library this week: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells; The Lost Fleet: Victorious by Jack Campbell; Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky; Project ULF: Reacquisition by Stuart Clark; Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis; Eating Acrylic Pancakes with the Dictators at IHOP on my Birthday by Charles Anderson; The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer; Cemetary Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; The City & The City by China Mieville; Deceiver by C. J. Cherryh; Pinion by Jay Lake; Ark by Stephen Baxter

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Dragon Page Social Community:
Twitter: @dragonpage

Link: Dragon's Fire, Wizard's Flame by Michael R. Mennenga


  1. Can I just point out an issue with sorting your podcasts by time? If I did that, here's how I would listen to Scott Sigler's The Rookie (for example):
    1. Episode 18
    2. Episode 27
    3. Episode 23
    4. Episode 02
    ...and so on. Sorting by name, then release date, still has a very important place when it comes to Podcasts.

    I, most certainly, did not raise my hand.

  2. I think there's an obvious difference between a podcast and a podiobook.

  3. The difference isn't that obvious when they're all in the same tab (labeled "Podcasts") on iTunes. For a non "Podiobook" example, I submit Slice of SciFi. The voicemail shows are almost always shorter than "normal" episodes. Sorting by time, I'd listen to the voicemail show for episode 263 before I listen to episode 263 proper. And half of the jokes would go over my head because I would have no idea what they were referencing. Similar arguments could be made about podcasts which follow a TV series or book (assuming any sort of backlog that you're trying to catch up on). This even applies to podcasts which make reference to previous episodes.

    The gist of my argument is this: Sorting by time just doesn't make sense for anything that's serialized.

    • I think that Mike's point was missed completely 🙂

      He wasn't talking about people sorting the individual episodes of a particular show by duration, not in the least.

      You know how Mike always rushes the end of things by saying "we're completely out of time"? How he always tries to cut Babylon Podcast off at an 59 minutes, no matter how much we complain and tell Dad that we want to stay up another 10 minutes?

      Some surveys done several years ago showed that podcasts with shorter episodes tended to be more popular (have more subscribers) than shows with longer episodes. The rule of thumb at the time was that someone looking for a podcast on a certain topic would consciously choose the show whose episodes were shorter over the one whose episodes tended to be longer... meaning a 20-minute show would beat out a 45-minute show all the time.

      I disagreed with that assumption back then, and I still disagree with it now... when it comes to niche specialty shows like Babylon Podcast and The Signal that appeal to a narrow (and obsessively passionate) interest group to begin with, the people who are interested in the topic will tune in no matter whether the episodes are 30 minutes or 90 minutes, and the chances of those people unsubscribing because the episodes are "too long" is negligible.

      Now with different types of shows, entertainment, news, comedy, the argument can still be made. If someone's commute is 30 minutes, they may not want to follow a show whose episodes regularly last longer than it takes them to get to work or get home... they may look for a similar show with similar content of interest that's shorter.

      I don't agree with trying to shoehorn all shows into that ADD span timeframe, because I will listen to a longer show split across different trips. Maybe I'm just unique in that, and maybe there used to be a strong argument to keeping shows shorter to attract an audience.

      I think with the increase in storage space in iPods, with the evolution of different devices to help people search for, try out and consume podcasts, and the fact that more of these devices means that more people are going to want more content more often (both audio and video), I think that the "keep it short" mode of thought might finally be outdated for podcasting... a difference of 10-15 minutes is negligible, especially if the content is compelling, interesting and entertaining.

      But that's what he was talking about... people choosing to listen to shorter shows over longer shows, not shorter episodes out of order over longer episodes of the same show.

  4. Oh. I see. That makes considerably more sense - thanks Summer!

    Though, I've got to say, I'm still not raising my hand. When I get a bunch of new podcasts in on any given day, I'm listening to my favorites first, regardless of how long they are. And I've got to say, I like the new 1 hour Slice Voicemail more than the old half hour format. Just my personal preference.

  5. I agree with Jim. If I love a podcast, I want more rather than less. When a new episode of Dragonpage comes out, I immediately start listening, even if I don't have time to listen to the entire episode right then. It immediately movest to the top of my queue. I think keeping it short is a good idea if you're a podcaster who doesn't have the time to put out a longer episode on a consistent basis. From a listener standpoint, moore is always better for me. Of course, I'm greedy...