Matchbook story
A matchbook with Kate Fellowes’ first-place story from 2019. Photo courtesy of the Library Shop

The Library Shop Saturday opened submissions for its sixth annual Matchbook Story Contest, a challenge to fit a story inside a book of matches.

Submissions are open until Nov. 15. The winning short story, as in year’s past, will be printed on a limited-edition matchbook available for purchase at the Library Shop.

“Libraries are a place where creativity and imagination are nurtured, and this annual contest provides an opportunity for everyone to show their creative side,” said Scott Ehrig-Burgess, manager of the Library Shop and public engagement manager for the Library Foundation SD. “This annual tradition for library patrons has become one of the most popular programs in the past few years. And even better, it directly supports other programs at all 36 San Diego Public Library branches. It’s a great way for the community to get involved and support their local library.”

For the past five years, the Library Shop has received more than 1,100 short story entries for its Matchbook Story Contest, San Diego’s shortest short story contest. Each entry will cost the traditional $5 fee. This year, each entry will quadruple its impact thanks to a $5,000 matching gift donation from longtime supporter and Foundation Trustee Judith Wenker in celebration of the Library Foundation SD’s 20th anniversary.

Every year, the winner receives a $50 Library Shop gift card and their story is printed on 2,000 matchbooks available for purchase at the Library Shop, published in the Library Connections e-newsletter and installed as part of the Tiny Book Display in the Hervey Family Rare Book Room at the San Diego Central Library.

Last year’s winning entry was penned by Sarah Hilliard: ” `Imagine yourself as a frog on a lily pad,’ the soothing voice murmurs in my ear. Obediently, I picture it: Slimy and cold, I am adrift in a polluted pond. A heron’s lethal beak looms. My legs prepare to leap but it is too late. I delete the meditation app.”

The winner will be announced Dec. 8 at the Third Annual Shorties, a hybrid awards gala celebrating outstanding contest entries.

For more information and to submit stories, visit

–City News Service