"It seems like every day, there are three or four new short fiction markets opening up, and five or six going out of business. Do people even read short fiction anymore, or does the short fiction audience mostly consist of aspiring short fiction writers? Aren't most subscriptions to short fiction magazines sold to writers trying to get published in said magazines?
"It seems to me that we are living almost exclusively off ourselves, feeding off our dwindling fat reserves until such time as public interest in short fiction magically revives -hey presto! I recently read somewhere that back in the days of Hemingway and Faulkner, these guys would sell a short story to a magazine like Harper's for the equivalent of a school teacher's yearly salary. Nowadays, if most writers didn't have non-writing jobs providing a trickle of new money into the publishing ecosystem through subscriptions and purchases of the yearly plethora of anthologies, I imagine almost the entire short fiction market would collapse."
While I am a lover of short fiction--both as a writer and reader--there is a lot of truth to what Crook says (and I've said some similar things in my own essays). That said, I'm more optimistic about the coming years than Jeff is, especially since short stories are so suited for reading on electronic devices like the Kindle e-book reader. I can easily see a short fiction renaissance waiting just around the corner. But I also know there's a fine line between being optimistic and naive, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens.