If you heard the promo for Karen Russell’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, and thought, “I didn’t know she had a new book out,” you are not alone.
Her new book is actually an eBook-only novella titled Sleep Donation. Dozens of writers have released eBook-only short fiction, many of them “bridge” stories between titles in a series, to tide fans over between books, (such as Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novella, High Heat, RH/Delacorte). But when an author with Russell’s literary cred does it, it gets attention.
Adding further to the media allure, this is the first release from Atavist Books, a joint venture between media mogul Barry Diller and movie producer Scott Rudin, run by former Picador USA publisher Frances Coady (more on the company here, but fair warning, this story buys the Kool Aid that it is “revolutionary,” even though there are many others in this business). Adding even more media-worthy names, it comes with an audio read by indie actress Greta Gerwig, and even has an interactive cover designed by that oxymoron, a famous book designer, Chip Kidd. Plus, it has its own website.
Unfortunately, however, it does not seem to be available to libraries.
Appropriately, the novella is about an insomnia epidemic ravaging America, the result of people paying too much attention to electronic devices (take note, Arianna Huffington; this could be a cross-promotional opportunity for your book).
In addition to the attention from Fresh Air, the novella was also the lead title in Entertainment Weekly’s book section last week, in a story titled “Let’s Get Digital” that includes Joe Hill’s short story Wolverton Station (from HarperCollins/Morrow and available to libraries), Greg Iles’s novella, The Death Factory (also HarperCollins/Morrow and available to libraries) plus upcoming titles by two other literary darlings, Column McCann’s Gone (released March 18 by another ebook-only publisher Byliner and apparently not available to libraries) and Adelle Waldman’s New Year’s, a companion story to her The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., coming in May, from the old world publisher where Francis Coady used to work, Macmillan/Picador (presumably one of those places she refers to as “print originators [who] tend to see digital as a slightly embarrassing offshoot of print.”)