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Slaying the “Death Star of Indifference”

Posted by Erin Brown in books publishing on June 4, 2009

The second Death Star in Return of the Jedi
Image via Wikipedia

The conversation about the future of publishing seems to be reaching a fever pitch these days, and the talk is overwhelmingly about technology, platforms, and applications. Amid the cacophony the question of how to find, nurture, and present exceptional, compelling content is usually secondary at best. As such, it’s great to see such a brave crusader as Hannah Tinti winning the PEN/Nora Magid Award for editorial excellence.

Tinti is editor-in-chief at One Story, a literary magazine that is championing the short-story form by printing them one at a timein all their slender and arresting self-containment. Never mind the Kindle, you hopelessly tactile readers, as One Story promises:

Each issue is artfully designed, lightweight, easy to carry, and ready to entertain on buses, in bed, in subways, in cars, in the park, in the bath, in the waiting rooms of doctors, on the couch in the afternoon or on line at the supermarket.


The concept is simple enough, but One Story must be doing something right, as they’ve built their subscribership from 100 to 6,000 since their founding in 2002. What’s more, of the 119 stories One Story has issued, more than 40 have been recognized as among the best of their year.

And what exactly does Tinti have to do with bringing forth such outstanding fiction? See magazine co-founder Maribeth Batcha’s recent post and the flood of comments that followed for a glimpse of the remarkable passion, discernment, and generosity Tinti devotes to the authors she works with.

Indie publishing veteran Richard Nash (formerly of Soft Skull Press), who judged the PEN/Magid Award, apparently summed it up when he called Tinti “the Princess Leia of American short fiction . . . saving the short story from the Death Star of indifference.”


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