Amazon is announcing that a new kind of content will soon join books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs in the Kindle store. Called Kindle Singles, the 30-to-90 page e-chapbooks aim to split the difference between feature-length magazine articles and shorter books.
“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 Amazon’s Russ Grandinetti. The costs of print production, marketing and distribution have historically driven the page-counts of book monographs up and the word-counts of magazine and newspaper articles down.
Amazon said that Kindle Singles will have its own section in the Kindle store and will be priced “much less than a typical book.” Amazon will also grant authors and publishers the same royalty split for singles as on the Kindle Digital Text platform: 70% on books costing between $2.99 and $9.99.
There are print precedents for 10,000-to-30,000-word works — novellas, chapbooks, long pamphlets, extended journal articles, among others — but they’ve usually been either tied to specific genres or downright exceptions to the form. They’ve never been a central part of the publishing model in either fiction or nonfiction.
Translation Jackets for On Bullshit; Image by Princeton University Press
Kindle Singles is also unusual in calling on publishers to produce stand-alone “born-digital” works that may not ever be traditionally printed. Some publishers may use the form to sell individual sample or advance chapters of longer print books. Individual writers may benefit the most from the program, as it makes it easier for them to self-publish works that precisely for reasons of length can’t find support from traditional publishers.
Two further possibilities, particularly if other e-book retailers follow suit with similar chapbook-length offerings: digital-only publishers (or offshoot imprints) could emerge to produce works specifically for this format, or the additional revenue and marketing stream of electronic publishing could lead print publishers to produce more short-form books in print.
I wouldn’t discount this last possibility. In 2005, philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit became a surprise hardcover bestseller. Frankfurt’s “book” was a reprint of a journal article that had already been collected and published in a longer anthology. It sold over half a million copies and spawned a sequel, despite being just 67 pages long and printed in an unusually small 4″ by 6″ format.
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Fuente: Gadget Lab