10 Fiction and Non-Fiction Picks for Amazon's Kindle

Amazon Digital (2); Hachette Book Group

E-book singles did not exist a year ago, but now they are attracting lots of attention from publishers and readers.

If e-book singles had a theme song, it would be Britney Spears' "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman." These quick and cheap e-reads — longer than a magazine article but shorter than a book at 15-90 pages and priced from 99 cents to $4.99 — did not exist a year ago, but now they are attracting lots of attention from publishers and readers.

Amazon, which basically invented the category, calls the single the "perfect, natural length to lay out a single killer idea." John Tayman, the CEO of publishing startup Byliner, which is producing original nonfiction singles, likens them to the reading equivalent of a movie: "Two hours later you feel like you've been entertained, you've been moved, you've been exposed to something you normally wouldn't have been and you have that sense of completion."

Established publishing houses are not sure what to make of the new category. A few have dipped a tentative toe in the waters, mostly as an experiment. With an obvious eye to satisfying long-time fans and attracting new readers, Delacorte Press packaged Lee Child's Second Son novella about a teenage Jack Reacher with a preview of Child's new Reacher novel. But Jodi Picoult's decision to bypass her traditional publisher Simon & Schuster to publish the single Leaving Home: Short Pieces directly with her agent Laura Gross suggests how disruptive singles could be to traditional publishing.

News organizations see singles as a way to generate more revenue from big stories. In August, The Guardian mixed old articles and new material for a single on News Corp.'s phone-hacking scandal while Vanity Fair wrapped a new introduction by editor Graydon Carter around 20 old articles for Rupert Murdoch: The Master Mogul of Fleet Street. Authors are attracted to the speed at which a single can reach the market. Says comedian and TV writer Rob Kutner, "I wanted to experiment with having an idea and taking it from conception to execution a lot faster. It's sorta a simpler model — this took me about six weeks from start to finish as opposed to the year-and-half for my book."

Go to the next page for a selection of 10 singles currently attracting attention.

comments powered by Disqus