A new source for narrative nonfiction storytelling online

A new source for narrative nonfiction storytelling online

As a genre, narrative nonfiction is enjoying newfound popularity online. Interactive features like The New York Times‘ Snow Fall and Tomato Can Blues have proven wildly popular among readers and the press alike. Last year, Fast Company predicted we’d be seeing plenty more narrative multimedia features on digital news sites. Indeed, major magazines the world over have taken a shine to creative nonfiction delivered in an immersive digital form.

As it happens, though, literary journalism was on the upswing even before it became interactive. Just consider The Atavist, a monthly digital narrative nonfiction magazine in operation since 2009, or Byliner, the “discovery engine” for narrative nonfiction that launched in 2011. It was in hearing about these two publications while working on a book proposal that an award-winning Canadian journalist decided to forgo the traditional book and give a shorter digital format a try. “I felt a glimmer of hope for works…that don’t fit traditional parameters,” says Tyee Bridge.

And so Nonvella was born.

Pegged as “single-sitting books,” Nonvella‘s 5,000 to 20,000-word offerings tap into the narrative nonfiction trend, but they also appeal to consumers increasingly accustomed to short-form journalism like Now This News, and an audience addicted to storytelling in all of its digital forms. Devices, particularly those with small screens, are ideally suited to delivering succinct but satisfying content – and Nonvella is the perfect fit. “The nonvella form has a bright future in the emerging digital ecosystem,” says Bridge, Nonvella’s co-founder and publisher. Stories can be purchased as ebooks for iPad, Kindle, and Kobo, and Nonvella is also doing some print-on-demand.


While Bridge and his team know that attracting readers in our “content-glutted world” may not be easy, they’re optimistic. Bridge notes that in addition to focusing on the nature of Nonvella’s stories he’s always thinking about their exposure and potential discoverability. Ultimately, Nonvella is hoping to attract a cult following of dedicated readers who appreciate good writing, whatever the length.

If you’re looking for short journalism that’s long on merit, add a Nonvella story to your smartphone this summer.

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