By awarding Lydia Davis the Booker Prize, the publishing world admitted that shorter sometimes is better. Writing isn't about word count. I hope this sends a signal to authors that they can publish short books -- yes for less money, but with more freedom.
Movies and books today are...long. They're struggling to prove value through length, with mixed results.
Take movies. Lots of older films clock in at 80 to 90 minutes. Characters zip from city to city, and viewers get the point. Films used to last as long as the story merited -- an epic was long, a screwball comedy short. Now, they drag on for two long hours in which the director spoon feeds us every transition (gee, is that how he got to the airport? I never would have guessed he drove!) I've checked my email and not missed a beat.
Books were often fat-- think, big fat nineteenth century tomes-- but they also could be skinny. Dickens's A Christmas Carol: a long short story, and yet, what a story. Willa Cather's amazing Old Mrs. Harris and Muriel Spark's The Ballad of Peckham Rye-- are masterpieces of that forgotten form, the novella. They would be hard to publish in today's fat book world.
That's where e-books, Kindle Singles and self-publishing come in. My Nine Romantic Stories is only 20,000 words. I could have made a fat book and included other stories. But these stories fit together -- they're about men and women and relationships and love. Mixed in with my others, they would lose their impact. So it's a skinny book and I price it accordingly. More recently, I published five funny flash fiction pieces in a "book" -- Crazy Lovebirds.Five Super-Short Stories. Super-short doesn't work in print, but online, it's fun.
Some great "short" (and bargain-priced or free) reads that I have discovered recently:
Daydreams Story Sampler by Tim Woods -- three uber-romantic tales that won me over (and which I purchased for a "tweet" believe it or not). I found this one on Goodreads.
First Kiss by Barbara Alfaro -- 25 poems in this lovely collection by a lovely poetess. Even if you don't adore poetry, you might like these.
Flash Fiction for the Cocktail Hour by Cathryn Grant, which has eleven delightful pieces of what the author terms "suburban noir -- it's one of several "volumes" of her flash fiction (gotta love flash fiction and volume together.) I got this one for free, and I think it still may be free.
Watching Charlotte Bronte Die and Other Surreal Stories by Ellie Stevenson, which has some nice old-fashioned spooky tales, and a few quirky ones too. Another Goodreads discovery.