Amazon continues to work its way through publishing in a truly disruptive fashion. From the homely (and, to some, inauspicious) Kindle 1.0 has emerged a popular, networked, and affordable e-book platform of significant commercial value and technical sophistication. The Amazon self-publishing infrastructure has improved, as well, enabling many authors to realize significant sales quickly and easily. And now, in another innovation publishers themselves will probably wish they’d thought up or invested enough to make possible, Amazon is offering “Amazon Singles,” short books or long monographs available for download at lower prices.
Information bites, snacks, and meals may now be joined by information brunches. Jeff Bezos himself was hopeful that the Kindle might help lengthen attention spans, so a bridge to brunching fits with that aspiration.
Amazon is clearly aiming at a more scholarly market with this new offering, which promises new types of content, written as Abraham Lincoln might say about a man’s legs “long enough to reach the ground,” and prices lower than typical novels.
To quote from Amazon’s press release:
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.
Ever wished that business book you bought could have been half as long for half the price? Now, it can be. As Rex Hammock notes on his blog:
I have this belief that almost every business book I’ve ever read would have been twice as good if half the words were left out. . . . When required by the book publisher to bloat up the content to 50,000+ words, the author has to shovel in a second, third or forth anecdote or case study example to illustrate each idea. I don’t know about you, but I can usually catch the drift after the first story. In other words, I’d be more likely to purchase a $4 ebook that is written by an expert reporter or blogger . . . that collects their “best of” insights on a specific topic. I don’t want to pay $10 for their padded version that is published as a book. But the $4 version that is 5,000 – 20,000 words of explanation, context and analysis: Bring it on.
By naming scientists, historians, and other academics in its call to authors, Amazon is clearly aiming for the monograph market.
I’ve often wondered at what kind of market resuscitation the e-reader space might mean for monographs, short stories, essays, and poetry. This may be the first sign that the Kindle, if not other e-reader platforms, will help create new markets for old formats.