|The e-book publishing revolution has competition. Travelman Publishing prints short stories designed like foldaway maps that are distributed via vending machines for £1 throughout the London underground.
The stories, from the likes of such notable authors as D.H. Lawrence, Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde and PG Wodehouse to name only a few, give new definition to portability. Apparently, according to a 1998 report in the Electronic Telegraph, the idea arose a few years back during a conversation between Alexander Waugh and William Trevor wherein they discussed the peculiarity that stories, although written to stand alone, are most often presented within the context of other stories in collections and anthologies. Waugh, the grandson of Evelyn Waugh, the great British novelist and the son of satirist Auberon Waugh, didn't launch the idea until he found himself jobless from a position as opera critic for a newspaper. It was then that he teamed up with university pal William Mollett, and together they assembled one of the most impressive and literary editorial boards around that not only includes the master of the short form, Trevor, but also Martin Amis, Jeffrey Archer, Beryl Bainbridge and Dame Muriel Spark.
Printed on a single sheet of folding paper from "sustainable forests," the stories have a smart design that includes commissioned illustrations and color-coding to identify nine categories: adventure, classics, comedy, crime, first edition, romance, science fiction, sex, and suspense. There are some thirty-eight titles and the editions have won Travelman the Millennium Award for British Design.
The idea of vending these neat little compact stories was proposed by Waugh's friend Ned Iveagh of the Guinness family, and if all goes well, the plan is to install these machines throughout British travel centers, including airports. This concept recalls the great success that Rudyard Kipling found by selling two-penny short stories on the Indian railways.
Of course, if you just can't wait until there's a vending machine near you, these literary fashion accessories are also available online through Amazon.com for U.S. $3.55.