Byliner kicks off fiction selections with Amy Tan
Byliner has staked out territory as one of the premiere electronic publishers focusing on works of intermediate length -- their pieces are generally longer than your average feature article, shorter than your average book. Byliner launched in April with Jon Krakauer's controversial "Three Cups of Deceit," a critical look at the work of "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson. Since then, with pieces by William T. Vollman, Mark Bittman, Ann Patchett and Taylor Branch, it has stayed firmly in the nonfiction territory.
“Many authors who have either written Byliner Originals or had their nonfiction showcased in our archives happen to be very gifted fiction writers as well,” Byliner editorial director and co-founder Mark Bryant said in a release, “and they’ve been asking us when we would begin publishing original fiction. So have a great many readers. We’re happy to tell them that the day has arrived, and we couldn’t be more pleased than to be able to christen the good ship Byliner Fiction with the incomparable Amy Tan.”
Tan's story for Byliner is "Rules for Virgins," a story of an aging courtesan in 1912 Shangai and her young protégé. While it sounds serious and sexy, Tan says that's not the whole story. "The description Amazon provides is lovely. But it leaves out that it's humorous. Well, I think it is," she wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. She continued, "The download is not available until December 5. But it's up for pre-sale. Frankly, I'm mystified why anyone would buy a download as a pre-sale item. (Sorry, Amazon.) It's not as though it will be shipped to you or be on backorder. That said, Hey, Everybody, be the first and put in your pre-sale order! Supplies are limited!" As of Friday morning, the story was the No. 25 bestseller in Amazon's Kindle Singles store.
In addition to being sold in as Kindle Singles, Byliner Originals are available from Barnes & Noble, in the Google eBookstore and as Quick Reads in Apple's iBookstore.
Byliner has supplemented its original publications by building a database of online stories published by other venues that fit its definition of long-form nonfiction; it includes excerpts and links to the New Yorker and other sites. With the launch of Tan's "Rules for Virgins," it will be adding fiction to its database as well.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Amy Tan speaks in China on Nov. 17. Credit: How Hwee Young / EPA