Imitation is the sincerest form of...

There are so many new literary publishing ventures, I have a hard time keeping up with them all. So I was slow to find out even about the most interesting among them - to wit, the Fifty-Two Stories site, which Harper Perennial launched early this year.

52S publishes new content once a week, and while I don't love everything they've run, there are some good stories in the mix. Also admirable is that a lot of the stuff comes from unknowns, making the site a good resource for finding out about new writers. The presentation is great, too - very simple and clean, with the stories' text front and center, in eminently readable Georgia. Did I mention that it's free?

And if the whole thing is just a low-cost way to market HP's line of short-story paperbacks - well, so what? Good for Cal Morgan, the site's editor, if 52S sells some books, and helps keep HP humming along. Sites of this sort - so failbetter-ish, in so many ways - aren't just a big part of publishing's future, they're also a boon right now, to writers and readers alike.