It seems chic these days to take the temperature of the short story as a viable fiction medium. Stephen King expresses his dubious outlook in the Sunday Book Review of The New York Times. The thrust of King's commentary is that the health of the medium is "apt to deteriorate in the years ahead." This view is based on, as always, the profitability of the magazines that publish short stories and the mainstreaming of content by magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly, which marginalizes emerging voices.
My take remains relatively sunny. I think about the stuff I read, chronicled in this space last week, and it seems that emerging voices are penetrating the marketplace fairly regularly. Although I mainly read novels, I am apt to purchase a collection of short stories or three in a calendar year. And I think the expansion of quality, paying zines has streamlined (positively, I might add) the process of getting fresh work in front of discerning eyes.
I have to add that I feel fortunate to write in the age of such inclusive technology. I think that, while there will always be a select minority that avoid digital publishing like MRSA, the platform will continue to evolve, allowing for both profitability and exposure in time. Will there be growing pains? Of course! Maybe a lot of what's out there right now in the world of E-books has been grossly undervalued and is waiting for the market to catch up and correct itself. And who is to say when that will be?
But as I've said here previously, I support the magazines that I support, but I read most of my short fiction online. That's a new paradigm for me in comparison to three years ago.
And Galleycat today linked to Fictionwise, a web-source offering a couple of free short stories while offering others for sale at $1.49 a pop. Score one for the health of the short story, in my opinion.