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Short Stories on the Go

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,travelman story 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.

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a travelman vending machine
The Travelman Short Story Vending Machine

Photo courtesy Travelman Publishing.
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collectedstories.com selects from the Travelman series:
available to you in association with Amazon.com
adventure classics comedy first edition romance suspense
story story story story story story
From a View to a Kill
by
Ian Fleming
A Chance for Mr Lever
by
Graham Greene
Here We Are
A Telephone Call

by
Dorothy Parker
The Summer Visitor
by
William Trevor
Bliss,
Feuille d'Album

by
Katherine Mansfield
The Pit
and the Pendulum

by
Edgar Allan Poe
This is one of seven stories & 12 novels that Fleming wrote centered around his James Bond spy character; it first appeared in 1962 in the story collection
For Your Eyes Only, which is currently out-of-print.
In addition to being the author of such famed titles as Brighton Rock & Orient Express, Greene published several collections of short stories, among them Nineteen Stories in 1947, later revised in 1954 as Twenty-One Stories. Of "A Chance for Mr Lever," Greene is noted to have said,
"I believe I have never written anything better."
Parker won the O. Henry Award in 1929 for what is perhaps her best known story, "Big Blonde." In this Travelman are two stories. "Here We Are" features an unsure newly wedded couple on the night of their honeymoon. "The Telephone Call," focuses on an impatient girl waiting for a lover's call. Trevor's stories appear regularly in the New Yorker, and he is the author of some 28 books, including the bestselling story collection After Rain, and his most recent collection, The Hill Bachelors. "The Summer Visitor" was commissioned especially for Travelman's First Edition series. Considered one of the founders of the modern short story, Mansfield's first collection in 1911 was titled In a German Pension. She is known for strong characterization and subtle detail. "Bliss" is from 1920. The author died in 1923. Poe's first collection of stories, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, was published in 1840. "The Pit and the Pendulum," appeared two years later. In this scary tale a man's nightmare begins as he awakes to find himself lying on his back in the dark with no memory of how he got there.

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