Do I have the future of book publishing lying near me on my dining room table?
The book is The Blue Horse by Rick Bass. Its a thin paperback book of 50 pages. The novella by the Montana writer was originally "published" on-line last year by Narrative Magazine, which exists entirely on the Internet.
Narrative later issued The Blue Horse in paperback. To my knowledge, it is only available for purchase via the Narrative website. On the back of the book, Narrative indicates that the book "is the first of a series of new Rick Bass novellas to be published by Narrative Library."
It would make sense that The Blue Horse is a model for future books. The on-line venue offers the opportunity to attract new readers, while testing a writer's strength with existing markets. Sufficient on-line interest would figure in the decision to publish a physical book and, because orders are only filled on-line, there would be no need for a huge print run, storage or distribution.
The book design is attractive and the printed product itself highly professional. The story shows Bass at his best: scenes of hunting, vivid descriptions of nature and an undercurrent of tension between the characters that leads to a surprising, yet satisfying, conclusion.