Kindle Singles: A New Genre?

Kindle Singles is a great idea when you think about it: writing that’s too long for your usual magazine article, but not quite long enough for full-length book treatment. While there are valid reasons to wonder about our reading attention spans, we might as well wonder: is there still a demand for longer, well-written pieces of writing? Of course there is. From the New York Times: “Miniature E-Books Let Journalists Stretch Legs” (thanks M. Gage for sharing this article with me) —

“Here’s what Kindle Singles actually are: probably the best reason to buy an e-reader in the first place. They’re works of long-form journalism that seek out that sweet spot between magazine articles and hardcover books. Amazon calls them “compelling ideas expressed at their natural length.”

Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I think the analogy used in the pamphleteering reference is spot on. Today’s self-publishing environment allows for a lot more writing output that simply might not have been possible even five years ago. Sure, some (or most) of it is going to suck. But there is going to be a lot of content and information that more than makes up for the dregs. Writing evolves to fit those technological advances (or, is that vice versa?).

If you’re interested in the idea of longform, not-quite-long-enough-to-be-a-book writing, then also be sure to check out Byliner and The Atavist, two of the best sources you’ll find.

Barnes & Noble borrowed the Kindle Singles idea, something I actually had not heard much about until now: Nook Snaps.


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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

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