I’ve no idea how I missed this. Fray has been on the Internet since 1996, puts out a book four times a year (though they do not refer to their issues as blooks) and is one of the best examples of online storytelling I have ever seen. They even have a proper model to sell their independently published issues: subscriptions.
Fray began as a website. It was 1996, and the idea was simple: the web as the ultimate conduit for personal storytelling. A little later Fray started live story telling events called Fray Days ‘that took place all over the world, attended by thousands of people.’ Uhhuh uhhuh. I see parallels with flashmobs here, since both are powered by the Internet. Fray took an indefinite hiatus on 22 Oct 2005.
And … they’re back. Issue 1 (Busted) just came out, with almost everything available in the online issue. Notice the blook publisher Blurb at the bottom of the page: they’re one of Issue 1’s sponsors, and I wonder just how they tie in with the whole project. The stories are well written, well presented affairs. Elementary School Confessions, for instance, has a tag line you’ve got to love: ‘Joanne had only two strengths that I didn’t: social intelligence and breasts‘.
I have to say Fray has a good chance of bringing Internet fiction to the mainstream – the people behind it are web heavyweights: Derek Powazek, the founder, was the guy who did Technorati’s original design, and Kevin Cornell, who did the bloody hand cover for Issue 1, is the guy behind the whimsical A List Apart illustrations. Fray is also a part of The Deck, an advertising network for elite blogs/websites … and damn, it looks good.
I am very pleased with the whole idea, and I’ve bookmarked and subscribed to site updates. Fray is high profile and it is web fiction. That, folks, equals one heck of a point of entry site.
[Update]: Just received answers to several questions regarding Fray:
Blurb is a sponsor of Issue 1, along with Media Temple and Wheadon Mahoney. Submissions are by email: Issue 1 was put together a few months before the actual release, and they’re going to release the theme for Issue 2 soon. Derek hints at something more than email submissions this time around – though he refuses to say exactly what. He also reminded me that Fray is not fiction: it’s all true stories, hence the term ‘personal storytelling’, as opposed to just ‘storytelling’.
And guess what? He hates the term blook ‘though not as much as … mook‘. Fray calls each issues a ‘Quaterly.’