Lengthwise, writers have typically needed to decide whether to write short enough for a magazine article or long enough for a book, with hardly any middle ground, but a new product launched by Amazon today is hoping to finally come up with a solution to this.
Dubbed Kindle Singles, the e-books are intended to present a single idea in a succinct yet well-researched way. The books are somewhere around 5,000 to 30,000 words and cost between $1-5 in their initial release.
Titles available at launch span from the fictional "Leaving Home" by Jodi Picoult, three short stories of love and loss, to "Pakistan and the Mumbai Attacks" by ProPublica, an analysis of the US investigation into the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai. TED is also getting involved, with a range available via Kindle Singles called TEDBooks. The first released books are Nic Marks' The Happiness Manifesto: How Nations and People Can Nurture Well-Being, Juan Enriquez and Steven Gullians' Homo Evolutis: Please Meet the Next Human Species, and Gever Tulley's Beware Dangerism! Why We Worry About the Wrong Things, and What It’s Doing to Our Kids.
TED curator Chris Anderson hopes that the new format will bring new ideas to those without the time to sit down and read an entire book on a subject, saying "their shorter format allows someone to see an idea fleshed out in a satisfying way - without having to set aside a week of reading time".
Being linked into the Kindle service means that, like all other Kindle books, the titles are transferrable between devices including Blackberries, PCs and iPads, with the place being saved across devices. Amazon has seen respectable success with the Kindle, with the third-generation reader currently their bestselling product ever. Kindle Singles' exclusive nature may provide the unique selling point required to keep away the competition, depending on how quickly other e-book stores will respond.