Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Kindle Singles" are now available and look interesting

Amazon announced today that the first set of "Kindle Singles is ready, and can be seen at Amazon's KindleSingles page.

  What are they?
  Below is what I wrote on October 13.  Essentially, they're shorter works not forced into the expected size of a regular novel, and, as a result, they're not as expensive either.  Pricing is between 99 cents and $4.99 and include original reporting, essays, memoirs and fiction.
  There are some really interesting looking offerings there, at good prices, and you can still get samples first.

When I first saw the PR release at MarketWatch, I thought Amazon was expanding into the Dating-Services area, but instead:

' Less than 10,000 words or more than 50,000: that is the choice writers have generally faced for more than a century--works either had to be short enough for a magazine article or long enough to deliver the "heft" required for book marketing and distribution.

But in many cases, 10,000 to 30,000 words (roughly 30 to 90 pages) might be the perfect, natural length to lay out a single killer idea, well researched, well argued and well illustrated--whether it's a business lesson, a political point of view, a scientific argument, or a beautifully crafted essay on a current event.

Today [Oct. 12], Amazon is announcing that it will launch "Kindle Singles" -- Kindle books that are twice the length of a New Yorker feature or as much as a few chapters of a typical book.  Kindle Singles will have their own section in the Kindle Store and be priced much less than a typical book.
  Today's announcement is a call to serious writers, thinkers, scientists, business leaders, historians, politicians and publishers to join Amazon in making such works available to readers around the world.

  "Ideas and the words to deliver them should be crafted to their natural length, not to an artificial marketing length that justifies a particular price or a certain format," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content.  "With Kindle Singles, we're reaching out to publishers and accomplished writers and we're excited to see what they create." '

Nick Bilton of the NY Times points out that
' This medium-length format has traditionally been difficult for writers to sell to publishers as it doesn’t fit into the mold of a printing-press distribution model.

  In a digital distribution system, those pricing structures no longer exist, and a digital price can be adjusted accordingly.

  By promoting this new format, Amazon can also avoid upsetting publishers who were frustrated with the company when it introduced its own self-publishing product, allowing writers to price and directly sell their content on the Kindle platform. '

Engadget's Joseph L. Flatley refers to these as "really, really short books"

  To Engadget's mostly tongue-in-cheek analysis - "It looks like Amazon has finally admitted what we knew all along: most books are too long. And boring.
  We need more e-publications that reflect our torn jeans, frayed hair, coffee swilling, ca. early-1990s slacker lifestyle.
  Kindle Singles, as announced by "the man" in an ironic blast of "PR," are described as e-books anywhere from twice the length of a Maximum Rock'n'Roll feature article to a few chapters in a typical book...."

  In the Engadget comments area, Nick Sweetman writes:
' Have you ever heard of this thing called attention span? It's when you actually get to '

  IMHo predicts:
' Mark my words: in 2020 they will come out with Kindle Fractions, for page-and-a-half publications, because by then singles will be considered long and boring :) '

  And, on a more serious note, jtnoel adds:
' Amazon is one of Dime Novel Publishing's distribution channels.  In fact, we currently have close to 30 titles published (although Amazon does not provide publishers the ability to offer texts for free...unless you are one of the big guys).

  The issue is about getting noticed. Publishers pushing short/serialized content through Amazon are, in short (no pun intended), lost in the shuffle.  By breaking this out into its own model, there is a great opportunity for authors/publishers like us to get some real marketing push from Amazon. '

 Dingus is amusing:
' The "Amazon Singles" name is all about branding.  Because calling them "Amazon Short Stories" sounds like a comic from the '50s.
  Also the acronym might not fly. '

 And, on a note that might please Amazon and Singles-authors, Mark points out why this might work:
' There are probably a lot of awesome short stories by authors I love, that I don't read.  Why?  Because I don't want to buy compilations with other short stories I am not interested in reading. ' makes some good points:
' ...Others view Kindle Singles as a new revenue source [for writers].  Writers can now take a different approach, and create smaller books that have a more narrow focus.

  It might take a year to write a traditional book, but Kindle Singles could be easily produced in two weeks to a month.  This quick turn around time could allow writers a chance to sell more digital work, so they can have the money to allow them to spend time focusing on bigger books.

  Other writers, on the other hand, may look at this as a new opportunity to carve out a unique niche, where they produce dozens of 30 to 90 page books.   Either way, this new addition to the Kindle Store provides a great deal of opportunity for many. '

Technorati's Laura Zavelson writes:
' If viewed through a magazine/newspaper lens, this could be the first step in letting journalists and writers produce their own work rather than having to be on staff or go through the tedious pitch process.  While the press release did not discuss the business model, there is also the possibility that writers might even be able to earn more for their work by going straight to distribution and bypassing the publishers.

  ... The newsstand price of a top consumer magazine runs about $5. What if you could spend less and just buy the articles you're interested in?  Would you do it? '

TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT - January 26, 2011
Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content, said "This first set of Singles was selected by our team of editors, and includes works by Rich Cohen, Darin Strauss, Ian Ayres, and the first-ever books published by TED. We think customers will be riveted by these stories that can take them to a Swedish bank heist or to the Mexican border town of Juarez, or to consider a new way to think about happiness."

The new Kindle Singles section of the Kindle Store is now available at Amazon's kindlesingles page and are available to both Kindle device and app users.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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