by Kate Newton
If there’s truth to the sentimentality that “good things come in small packages,” a concept like The Chocolate Storybox brings much needed simplicity to one of the most commercialized holidays of the year.
The site, based in the United Kingdom, is making its official launch on Valentine’s Day with a unique product that speak volumes about the limitless nature of “the virtual world”: that is, for chocolate fans and bookworms. Visitors to the site can peruse short works of romantic fiction, written by Skye Phillips, by clicking on a picture of a corresponding (and of course, temptingly bite-sized) piece of chocolate, previewed in the image above. Meant to tribute the “attractive and indulgent” process of immersing yourself in a good book, according to the site’s media manager Fiona Smith, the chocolate images selected for the site were actually provided by local business Sabino Artisan Chocolates.
“We were looking for the most beautiful chocolates we could, and we couldn’t find anything lovelier than the images on (their) site,” Smith said.
Photogenic chocolates are only the first of the connections tying The Chocolate Storybox to Tucson. The short story “The Manager” is set here in town, acting as a consummation of Phillips’ “great love for Arizona” (according to Smith, the author has spent “many summers here,” so if her love drives her across the cool Atlantic to 100-plus temperatures, then that love is great indeed).
The stories range from grounded tales of improbable relationships (like “The Manager”) to apocalyptic tales of seeking love in paradise (in the suspensefully creative “The Eye in the Mirror”), but share a common root: “They’re all unashamedly love stories,” Smith said.
Each of those six stories that will be available on the site come with the option to either “Try” or “Buy,” but those familiar with sampling skimpy reads on other online library sites shouldn’t be skeptical. The trial reads are surprisingly lengthy, allowing you to read almost half the length without being unceremoniously cut off. Thankfully, the full versions are priced at only £0.99 each, or $1.55 if you don’t have an internal knack for international conversion (step it up, will you?). These stories are far superior to any Justin Timberlake single you have waiting in your cart on iTunes, and worthy gifting to satisfy the romance enthusiast in your life. Orders can be completed on the site via PayPal, and gift certificates can be delivered both electronically or by mail.
For now, Phillips is the only featured author on the site, but the founders are open to featuring work by other contributors as well. Smith says they’re especially seeking young writers to add an entirely new, refreshing “layers” to the Storybox.
“I think communication has changed a lot over the last 10 years, and the way that people meet... and their language of romance has changed,” Smith said. “We would like to see some young writers coming through that have grown up in that world.”
Clean, eye-catching and easy to navigate, The Chocolate Storybox site can serve as a unique gift or simply a good way to spend a spare hour between commitments. You can visit The Chocolate Storybox site here post-launch to explore the stories firsthand, and here’s a hint: if you’re single, chocolate always goes better with a bottle of wine, and it’ll be February 15 before you know it.