When my former colleague at the Chicago Reader, venerable “Hot Type” columnist Mike Miner, wrote about Punk Planet Books editor and publisher Dan Sinker, in turn a friend and colleague in lit-punk stuff, I knew it had to be about something good. Appropriately, I came across Miner’s eventual column about Dan — “A Short Story in the Palm of Your Hand,” about Sinker’s CellStories.net venture –via someone’s (I think Sinker’s himself) Facebook status update, reposted the news myself and hopefully began to chain along the interest in something that’s been well overdue for quite some time in the web fiction arena: a site with stories delivered daily and optimized for mobile phone exclusivity.
Though McSweeney’s does look and function fairly well on the iPhone — as does THE2NDHAND, for that matter — it and other online fiction purveyors have none of CellStories.net’s seamless simplicity for mobile readers nor the expected range of style expected among the content. Sinker expects to pull from not only direct submissions but from already published work, aggregating the “best of the Web” in the manner of Mother Jones or Harper’s readings section. I’ve already recommended several recent stories from THE2NDHAND for CellStories — including among others David Wirthlin’s “Nine Items From Your Disappearance”, part of a novel due from BlazeVox soon, and Margaret Patton Chapman’s alternate history of Chicago’s Kimball Avenue, “The Tragical History of Dr. Kimbell” — and with any luck our writers will reach more readers this way.
Amazingly, the venture was picked up today by Reuters and Publishers’ Weekly. Traffic was high on THE2NDHAND.com today, too. As for CellStories’ functionality, I’ve yet to actually read the debut piece, by former THE2NDHAND contributor and known excellent Chicago quantity Megan Stielstra (I’m sure it’s a good one, nonetheless). It’s not accessible via a standard internet browser on the computer, nor via my chintzy Verizon texting phone’s web browser (admittedly, a lot of things don’t work on my chintzy Verizon texting phone’s web browser).
Apparently it works on the iPhone and iTouch (hey, Susannah’s got one of those)– and on the Google Android phone, among others. In any case, sounds like Sinker and co. are working on accessibility issues; stay tuned for more: http://twitter.com/dansinker or http://twitter.com/cellstories.
In other news, Annalemma, a mag launched by the great Chris Heavener after initial development in a Columbia College workshop I taught in 2006, has an entirely redeveloped and quite cool website experimenting with lit multimedia, here.
UPDATE: As expected Stielstra’s story rocks. Checked it out on Susannah’s iTouch. The feel of the device, complete with background design and good-size text, is excellent, definitely worth staying tuned.
AND: According to past THE2NDHAND contributor Amy Woods Butler, CellStories is working just fine on her cheapo Verizon phone.