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Posted at 12:34 PM ET, 01/26/2011

So many books, so little time? Amazon now selling shorter prose as Kindle Singles

By Rob Pegoraro

Short-attention-span readers have a new option from Amazon: "Kindle Singles," short pieces selling at pocket-change prices for the Seattle retailer's e-book readers and software.


Amazon's press release defines a Kindle Single as such:

Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea -- well researched, well argued and well illustrated -- to be expressed at its natural length.

They sell for 99 cents to $4.99 each. The initial selection of 22 Singles includes short stories, memoirs, essays and how-to works by such name-brand authors as Jodi Picoult and Pete Hamill, as well as journalists such as Wired writer Evan Ratliff and ZDNet editor Larry Dignan.

Like most Kindle releases, the Singles appear to come locked with Amazon's proprietary digital-rights-management software, which makes them unreadable outside its Kindle hardware and software and denies most of the fair-use rights you'd have with a physical publication. At least they all support Amazon's new (but painfully limited) lending option.

Amazon's press release also notes that individual authors can take part in this program and invites would-be scribes to come forward:

The call remains open for serious writers, thinkers, scientists, business leaders, historians, politicians and publishers to submit works for Kindle Singles. To be considered for Kindle Singles, interested parties should contact

So, anybody have a suggestion for a 20,000-word piece I can write in my non-existent spare time?

By Rob Pegoraro  | January 26, 2011; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  DRM, E-books  
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Something Shirky-like on the Impending Doom of the print news business, coupled with an optimistic piece on How We Can Save It.

Posted by: wiredog | January 26, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

This is a wonderful way for authors to leverage the power of Amazon to interest new readers in their work.

Before, an author needed a completed book to have something to sell on Amazon. Now an author can sell parts of his or her works in a serialized format (Dickens anyone?), or short stories, or even an adjunct product that adds value to an existing book.

I imagine that this will become a critical tool for authors as they struggle to build a reader base pre-publication.

Rachel Simeone
Book Marketing Coach

Posted by: ZetaBlueMarketing | January 26, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

A compilation of the Verizon iPhone pieces you've written over the years?

Posted by: CJMARTIN04 | January 26, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

What is the advantage of Kindle Singles over their existing system (now called Kindle Direct Publishing) for self-publishing works on the Kindle platform? To the best of my knowledge you could always publish shorter pieces on their self-publishing system, and without having to pitch them, as the press release suggests is the case with Kindle Singles.

Posted by: jfoust | January 26, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

One tires of the hype of the Kindle.

Millions of books available in the recognized epub standard and yet a Kindle owner would have to use software to individually convert these books to the Kindle proprietary format.

Almost no mention that the Sony e reader and other e readers allow borrowing books from public libraries at no costs.

And let us not forget about the hype of the supposedly millions of free digitized books from Google. Five minutes of research of these books indicates that Google has simply taken pictures of the pages of these books. The results are the same as if the Washington Post simply made available online photographs of the daily print version of the Washington Post.

It would be nice if columnists would actually research products.

Posted by: bsallamack | January 27, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Kindle can read millions of Mobipocket formatted files available on Project Gutenberg,, and other places. No need to convert into any proprietary format. Also reads PDFs.

Don't give folks the impression it is some sort of closed device. It isn't.

Posted by: Revo1 | January 27, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Oxford's "Very Short Introduction" paperback series is about the same length, but more expensive than the Kindle Singles. The Oxford authors are recognized authorities, and the books are great subway reading -- a lot smaller than an e-reader and unlikely to be mugger bait.

Posted by: IanGilbert | January 27, 2011 9:41 PM | Report abuse

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