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back to article Amazon shrinks books with Kindle Singles

As the world's attention span continues to shrink, Amazon plans to introduce a breed of Kindle e-texts that are no longer than "a few chapters" of those hefty analog books that a few people still bother to read. These "Kindle Singles" will have their own category in the Kindle ebook store, and they will be priced "much less" …

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Anonymous Coward

aren't these just short stories?

Most of which end up published in various collections. A particularly good one might even get written up into a proper story! They have their place, and monetising them may be a winner with getting new authors going, but they are generally much too limiting a format for anything with depth.

I really hope there is a proper plan behind it, and that these aren't just another silly idea cooked up by the 'spelling, punctuation, and grammar aren't really that important are they?' brigade, convinced that everyone has ADHD, attempting to get rid of anything complex that could potentially confuse someone.

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Bronze badge

Not a new idea, though...

Some of the independent e-publishers already have a good line in short stories for sale individually rather than in collections.

It's a natural evolution in the market as (as Amazon said) the industry's previous love of novels and collections was mostly led by printing formats and pricing, and producing an efficient and profitable format, much the same as music albums vs singles.

Just as music downloads have meant the unbundling of the album into singles, the ebook was always going to lead to the unbundling of anthologies into individual stories.

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Paris Hilton

Eh?

"proper story"...?

That kinda implies a short story is somehow "improper".

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Clackety-clack. Whoo!

Whodunnit, Poirot?

They all did.

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IR

Ha

We used to call them short stories. Many a good idea in them, I used to buy the compilation books of old ones from used-book stores and a lot had been turned into episodes of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits in the mean time.

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Cool

It's like an app store for writers.

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Joke

App store

I have this great idea for a fart story...

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Bloody hell...

That's all we need. Reader's Digest style `Condensed Books` on the Kindle. Less effort = more profit.

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Pirate

Correction

"Today’s announcement is a call to serious writers, thinkers, scientists, business leaders, historians, politicians and publishers to join Amazon in making a bunch of money for Amazon."

Dunno how you got that quote so wrong...

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Go

Good idea

This seems like a really good idea - the content could be episodic like some games were (meant to be). Imagine something like Discworld with these short stories every so often instead of having to wait for each new book. I've got some of Stephen King's short story collections, it'd be nice to have the stories published every couple of months or so instead of having to wait the compilation.

And, personally, I quite liked Readers Digest - it was an interesting way to read about a lot of different things without getting too in depth - you could always make the effort to read more on a subject you liked.

At least Amazon is thinking about something different...

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They used to be called...

essays. Or tracts. Nowt wrong with a pithy communication, not everything has to be massive. I guess the 99-page iOS EULA wouldn't qualify. I wonder what the pricing is going to be; ebook prices are already in a race to the bottom, so selling these things isn't going to make many people rich.

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Boffin

I suppose "novella" wasn't trademarkable?

"Less than 10,000 words or more than 50,000: that is the choice writers have generally faced for more than a century"? Not in the magazine fiction world!

Definitions vary, but here are the Hugo Award categories:

Short story - <7500 words

Novelette - 7500-17,500 words

Novella - 17,500-40,000 words

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Bronze badge

Times have changed

Under the Hugo rules, over 40,000 words qualifies as a novel. Back in the 1960s the majority of commercial novels were around 50,000 words, not just in science fiction. Today, the commonplace is about twice that, And there are reasons why few books are noticeably longer: few printers can produce a longer book.

Amazon are being a trifle misleading.

The short fiction markets do seem to have diminished. Unless you're writing in the Romance market. And I wouldn't be surprised if the target for this is the sort of fiction published in small-circulation, rather literary, magazines. Which is an area where the advantages of eBooks might be an advantage. I think you might need a long spoon to sup with Amazon, but one of the problems with eBooks seems to be how the big publishing companies are handling them.

This could be a step up from unselective self-publishing, if these shorter works have seen print in the small press, and eBooks could be seen as a bonus, rather than competition.

But Amazon? I just don't know.

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Coat

They were called "pamphlets"

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries - before "blogging" became popular - many authors with an idea used short printed works called pamphlets to distribute their ideas. Here in the Colonies, troublemakers like Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Benny Franklin and their ilk, as well as in Old Blighty word-smiths like Charles Dickens, Rudy Kipling and others did likewise.

Why these disappeared (or became "White Papers") I don't know, but Amazon's resurrection of them is a wonderful idea. Or not: PodCasts are similar ideas, as are blogs. I suppose the real difference is getting these "blogs" into the marketplace through a more universal outlet.

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Coat

Your pamphlet seems a little long, Mr Franklin-

Might I suggest you consider publishing it as a Pamph?

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JB

Short Stories

Not sure if I like this idea or not. Could be useful to buy short stories individually, but I just have a nagging feeling that this is really just books for the ADHD crowd.

Print books have got bigger, but only because (in the case of the John Grisham/Dan Brown kind of books) the print has got bigger and the page margins smaller - format them like proper books and they're probably about 180 pages.

(Where's the 'not sure' icon?)

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"I like this"

as I have a short atte

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Anonymous Coward

Camus's "L'étranger" is about 30 000 words

It's a damn good length for a novel, in my opinion.

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Death throes...

This is the death throes of Kindle. Have you ever seem Amazon advertise on TV before now?

No.

The only time they have is right now. Because Amazon are trying to recover their investment.

Why?

iPad - That is why.

iPad will kill it dead.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe not the iPad.

The iPad might be a bit too expencive to directly threaten the Kindle type devices.

But there are a lot of far cheaper tablets coming out that will definitely hit them very hard.

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kindle..

I dunno man, I don't know a single person that has an iPad (and no, I don't live in the desert, and yes, quite a few of my associates are technophiles). I do know that a lot of them have bought the kindle though to accompany their iphones... I guess an iphone does the same stuff that an ipad does (and works as a phone), and the kindle is good for reading and is small/light enough to carry with you in your suitcase or shoulderbag or whatever.

I don't think heavy tablets are going to usurp the kindle as a way to read books on the go (too heavy/short battery-life, nvm the bollocks about direct sunlight), but there might be a few similar e-readers coming out of china soon that will do just that (e-screen tech that is fast enough for video and that has colour is aparently on the cards).

Caveat: I have a kindle and it's fucking brill. Still waiting for a tablet computer that is small enough to carry in one hand and cheap enough to use in the kitchen for recipies etc, star trek got it right.

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but they mostly run android

And if they run android then they can run Amazons Kindle app which is actually really rather good. And is also available on IOS so the iPad isn't going to kill of anything but the hardware, that or force some innovation.

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Thumb Up

Kindle App

Downloaded it for my Desire last night, it's really good and the prices on Amazon are much better than a lot of other ebook sellers like WH Smith & Waterstones.

I currently have a n other ereader so wouldn't buy a Kindle but I'm seriously considering one of those Dixons tabs for the Kindle app.

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Call me old fashioned, but nothing beats...

...a really long, thick, book made of dead-trees.

Nothing.

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maybe...

buying a long thick dead-tree book for 50p-2quid, lending it to a friend and borrowing other long thick dead tree books from friend.

books rock.

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Silver badge

Also..

books are a good carbon sink. The more trees that grow and are converted to paper that is retained, rather than burnt, the better.

More libraries!!!

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Pirate

right

and if I, err, inadvertently drop a paperback in the toilet, I'm out $10. Drop a $180 Kindle in the loo, and I'd cry.

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Could someone please...

...sum this up for me? It was too long to read.

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Stop

Hey, everyone! Guess who's just reinvented the chapbook!

That said, I think Amazon may be onto something here. Not every story needs to be a 100 kiloword monster, and publishers are sill insisting on selling e-books at prices comparable with hardbacks, let alone paperbacks.

This could also give writers an additional source of revenue. Although much will depend on the price points chosen. £4.99 for a short story won't cut it.

But true art lies in knowing when to stop, so I'll stop.

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Not short stories

These aren't short stories. As has been pointed out, there are plenty of compilations and such where one can buy short stories already. As the article says, "less than 10,000 words" is an acceptable story format already.

These are really more novella length: there are very few places where you can buy novellas these days. Published on their own, you get a very small book that doesn't cost much less than a larger one, so carries a similar price tag, and looks like a rip-off. Collected together, you can only reasonably fit two or three novellas in to a single paperback. Which is a hard sell, as you don't have the variety of a short story collection, nor the focused appeal of a novel.

It's a nice idea.

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Boffin

Size of an elephant!

Doesn't there need to be a standard size for books?

Maybe something like 10 Mills & Boon = 1 War & Peace

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Death throes...

I seem to recall reading somewhere - probably in these parts - that Amazon don't really care whether you use the Kindle 'device', so long as you use their Kindle marketplace. The device being provided in the meantime to kick-start the market and provide a physical platform until tablet devices like the iPad become widely available and affordable, and can host their Kindle app.

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Agreed

I went for Kindle because they seem to have a good marketplace for what I read (mostly sc-fi) and the reader is platform agnostic (runs on their own Kindle, a PC, iPhone, android).

You can take it as read that I wanted an ebook. Run out of bookshelves for the paper stuff and having to make decisions as to what books to throw out .. Azimov or Arthur C Clarke?

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Bronze badge

There's a pro-literacy series of "Quick Reads".

Short books that are by no means to be looked down on.

And probably tons of short "pulp" novels - thrillers, westerns, sci-fi...

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Short(er) stories will help...

...keep down the weight of your Kindle...

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Matter does size

I'm looking forward to this because, well, not every meal has to be your dinner and sometimes a packet of crisps is all you want.

Some of the best, most thoughtful, most well crafted and most memorable fiction I have ever read has been in the short story form, and I feel that, paradoxically enough, the blockbuster doorstop of whatever genre by its bloated episodic nature is much more likely to be the mindburger of choice by those not wishing to have their attention span overly challenged.

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Headmaster

since words are discrete

Amazon's copy writer should have know to use fewer instead of less. tsk tsk.

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Bronze badge

Language change.

This is a demonstration of linguistic evolution in action.

Remember that what you call correct, the generation before would call an error.

Wouldst thou prefer that nothing change?

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Silver badge

Bah!

For the cost of a Kindle I can get a two year sub to Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact magazine.

It arrives once a month and is pre-loaded with content. This month's issue had three novellas, four shorts, a short-length discussion on what a time traveller might want to use for trade goods, a short-short, book reviews by someone not selling the books, an editorial, a speculative science column and a letters page.

And the batteries never die in mid story.

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Headmaster

Didn't you mean "known"?

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

Wot yonna bart innit?

I think that proves my point.

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Anonymous Coward

Condensed Books

Amazon is just showing us how Green they are by Recycling! (product ideas, that is.)

In the US, Reader's Digest built an entire business on this idea decades ago, selling compilations of shortened versions of popular novels, as well as printing same in installments spanning 3 or 4 issues in the book section of their magazine, in addition to the usual short stories they published in each issue.

Reader's Digest may be not as popular now, but their idea is being deployed on a new medium, so Carlin's corollary to P.T. Barnum's law still applies, some schmuck will buy it.

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Re: condensed books

The anonymous coward speaks the clear truth. As a general rule I am not in favor of book-burning, but those pretty volumes of condensed books from Reader's Digest are best employed as kindling.

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