Once upon a time in America, short stories were printed weekly in magazines like the Saturday Evening Post, Scribner’s, Look, Collier’s, and the New Yorker. Writers like Hemingway published tales like “The Old Man and the Sea’’ in magazines such as Life, which sold 5.3 million copies of its Sept. 1, 1952, issue, in which that story appeared.
Apart from the New Yorker, which continues to publish short fiction, most of those magazines are defunct, and they seem to have taken the popularity of the genre with them. Book publishers have noticed. “[E]ditors and agents blanche at the prospect of debut story collections,” Paul Vidich wrote in the online magazine the Millions. “The popular wisdom — and commercial reality — is that story collections don’t sell.”