There was an interesting piece in Sunday’s New York Times that brought up another facet of the future of electronic publishing. E-books that are longer than an article, but shorter than a book. Jenna Wortham who wrote the piece describes it as “medium-length material”. Seems in our times of widespread attention deficit disorder (and I mean the adults) this is an interesting hybrid that I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of. People sometimes pay for this kind of content, and it offers a whole new world of opportunities for writers who are looking to expand their repertoire and readers who are not willing to commit to buying and/or reading a full length book, but it also opens the door to a lot of questions for everyone involved. Kindle Singles is Amazon’s answer to this question, and they are trying different types of fiction and nonfiction to test the market. Jodi Picoult’s collection of 3 previously published short stories sells for $2.99. And here’s a piece that talks about a success Kindle Singles had selling a 13,000 word news piece for 99 cents. It’s also available for free online, and still sold 1,900 copies for a fee in its first two weeks on sale. The writer of the piece talks about this being like journalism’s version of the novella, an interesting analogy. I recently did a 2-book deal for an author, the first a traditional print book, and the second a mini e-book, in the 8-10,000 word range, that will be on sale several months before the print book comes out. It will offer some previously published material, and a good amount of new content as well. It was tricky negotiating because it’s still brand new territory, there isn’t a lot of money yet for the author for this kind of untested mini-book, and there were questions about, among other things, the author essentially writing 2 books for the price of 1. But in the end, the opportunity won out over the logistics and we went ahead with it.
I’m really curious to know what you guys think about this. Would you pay up to $3 for a long article or short book, depending on how you look at it, or is there a price point you’d be more comfortable with for that type of product? I think there’s going to be a lot of trial and error when it comes to this type of publishing over the next few years, and my guess is we’ll end up with a lot more content requiring small fees, but still plenty that’s free too, and finding that right balance is what writers, publishers, editors, and agents will have fun and headaches figuring out.