A short story is a work of fiction that doesn't take a long time to read. Is it really worth plopping down a whole entire dollar for one? As a producer and vender of such an item (a short story for 99 cents) I had an occasion to ponder this question. And I found the answer to be a resounding 'YES.' And here's why:
Let's say you buy a short story of 6500 words (which is actually a fairly beefy story) and let's say you're a super-speedy reader with a stopwatch handy who happens to blaze through the story in 18 minutes. Did you get your money's worth for the experience? Well, let's see other forms of intellectual property you can have for a buck.
You can buy a song (mp3) for a dollar. Sure, you can play it repeatedly, just as once you own a story, you can read it as many times as you like - but a song typically doesn't last longer than 5 minutes, and for most songs, that's pushing it. A type of pop song with a repeating chorus will typically be less than 100 words. I wouldn't argue that the melody and rhythm offers other dimensions of value, but producing a decent book is just as labor-intensive as producing a decent song.
Would you pay a dollar to watch a half-hour of television on demand - any episode of any show? Most half-hour shows are really just over 20 minutes to account for advertising time. A 99 cent short story will give you a comparable amount of entertainment.
Let's say, for whatever reason, you decided to go to an arcade and play some video games or pinball. A dollar will get you four games maximum, and those games go quickly. And when that's over, it's over.
I could go on, but the point is, what kind of quality can you expect outside the realm of intellectual property for 99 cents? You can't even get a cup of coffee most places for that price, and you can believe that a good book took a heck of a lot more effort to make than a cup of coffee.
In conclusion, I'd say the case is made: A conscientiously crafted short story is absolutely worth at least 99 cents. And if you agree, then you're a smart and highly reasonable person and you deserve to feel good about yourself. Have an awesomely wonderful day - and keep reading, you high minded, wonderful person, you. Oh, and please support indie authors. Thanks!