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It was while avoiding writing that Ioanna Mavrou conceived of the idea to start Matchbook Stories. "At the time, I was working on a master's in creative writing and a novel. So, of course, I was procrastinating," she says over the phone from her house in Cyprus, with a laugh. Mavrou's idea wasn't to create the standard sober-looking literary magazine (which she coedits with friend Lee Jing-Jing), but rather to let her magazine's peculiar form shape the writing.

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Now in its third edition, every issue of Matchbook Stories features four fictional tales, usually around 150 words long, each printed on pages inside its own custom-designed matchbook. So far, the project has attracted stories from emerging writers like Blake Butler and Etgar Keret. (The latter submitted his contribution minutes after receiving his own copy of the first issue. Mavrou and Jing-Jing—big fans of his work—were thrilled by the surprise.) "We're interested in playful ways of experiencing and presenting literature," she says. "We don't like anything that's too dry or humorless."

Matchbook Stories, $17 per issue,

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