Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Friday, July 1, 2011

What is an eBook "Single"?

A MP3 Player from the Company TrekStor. The na...Image via Wikipedia
An MP3 player
In the music recording industry, the concept of a single is well-known. It's an individual track: one song, or one tune. Instead of buying a whole album of eight to twelve tracks, it's possible to purchase the songs you want, one at a time.

Anyone with an MP3 player will know the concept: purchasing single tracks is nothing new. For music. It's different with reading. Until recently, one could only buy either a whole novel, or a book containing a collection of stories by the same author. Anthologies - or collections by a number of different authors - are also available.

Some authors are now making shorter works available. They figure that creating very short eBooks makes sense. It started with novellas. These are stories about a quarter or a third of the length of a novel. Some authors have had great success selling single novellas, which make for convenient and easy reading during a commute, time spent in a waiting room, or a neat addition to a relaxing lunchtime break.

It's not a long stretch to imagine the possibities of selling individual short stories and calling them 'singles'. They can retail very cheaply, and provide an excellent way for readers to try out an author for quality, subject matter, and the kind of prose they write.

Perhaps the future will see most authors publishing a few short stories to use as promotion tools such as giveaways, tasters and samples. The short story is not as unpopular as some would have you believe. Most classic authors wrote them, and there are some very popular bestselling collections and anthologies. Publishers have in the main avoided and discouraged them, but the current publishing climate has seen short stories return with quite a successful rush.

Because I like this concept, and having a number of short stories I wrote in the 90s to revise and use, I have experimented with the 'single' strategy. I have issued two singles, complete with covers, on Kindle. They retail very cheaply and started to sell immediately they went live. Clicking on these covers will take you to their Kindle pages. They present value - for under a dollar you get about 18 pages, which you can lend to friends, or read over and over again.

It was fun designing the covers, formatting the text, and waiting for Amazon to throw the 'live' button. So let me know what you think of this concept - do you think it will take on? If you are a reader, tell me whether buying one story seems convenient to you. If you are an author, will you try to experiment in this way?
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