“Collectible” Digital Fiction

Hi, blog. Long time no speak.

Every once in a while there’s something that comes on my radar meaning one thing but gets the brain-meats working in another direction. Some are simple issues of punctuation (or, rather, my missing the punctuation), which leads to something like Herman Dune’s “You Could Be A Model, Goodbye” reading more like “You Could Be A Model Goodbye” which has an entirely different meaning and could be the great basis for a short story or a song.

NSFW – A bad word or two.

Robin Sloan has a post over on Snarkmarket that has led to another brainstorm, only this is more delivery than content based – the booster pack:

Most fiction is recombinatory. That’s not a bad thing! I mean, my novel is recombinatory. You can have a lot of fun with recombination. You deal yourself a hand from the deck of culture and try to make sense of the juxtapositions. I think I just described the process behind all comic books ever. The results can be rich and compelling—all the more so because they’re supported by ideas and images with deep roots.

But! We can’t only recombine. It can’t just be remakes and reboots and remixes forever. Every so often, we need new stuff, too.

Have you ever played one of those collectible card games? Bought a pack of cards, ripped it open, added them to your deck? Annihilation is a foil-wrapped booster pack for weird fiction, loaded with truly original images. Truly original entities.

Which sounds like an awesome book and something I’ll have to pick up.

But, brainstorm – what if one could purchase a “booster pack” that delivered random stories in an ebook format?


Create a library of, say, a hundred stories of 3,000-5,000 words each. For a price of around $2.99, seven of those stories are randomly selected and dropped into either a zip of files or a single ebook file. Like those seven? Buy another pack. Sure, you might get some duplicates, but then you can feel better about sharing them with friends (because they’ll be DRM free, of course). And at $2.99 you’re still getting a handful of new stories.

Or you can just buy individual stories at $0.99 a piece, but, hey, why not get more bang for your buck?

Some stories could be designated as “rare” or only available in the packs, so if you want that great super rare Stephen King story (because he’d totally participate in something like this, right, Mr. King?), you’ll have to keep getting collections until you get so damn frustrated with it that you’re broke, I’m rich, and maybe Mr. King and I take pity on you and give you the story anyway.

The complication, aside from building a library of a hundred or more stories, is developing a system of delivery that can create the booster packs at random and provide them in assorted formats. Then there’s the whole royalty thing for authors.

But as an idea, I’m curious if anyone else thinks it has merit. Let me know your thoughts.

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