Saw an interesting writing blog about short books (under 20,000 words) on Amazon: Why do short ebooks sell so well?
We've debated several times how many authors 'cheat' the system by releasing a series of short (10,000 word) books rather than a single 60,000 word book, but this shows the problem is even more extreme, and more mainstream, than we assumed in the past.
Do readers prefer short ebooks to read?
By chance, I was looking at the Amazon Kindle Store, and clicked on an ebook listed in the top twenty bestsellers.
I scanned down the book's details and was surprised to note that the ebook was listed as being only 105 pages in length.
Now, by this measure it is not easy to calculate the number of words, because what defines a page on Kindle?
Perhaps a rough equivalent to a page in a trade paperback.
I did a quick check of one of my own ebooks, which is a short novella, and saw that Kindle calculated it to be 110 pages long.
I know this book is a shade under 20,000 words, so now I can say with certainty that any ebook listed on Kindle with around 100 pages, is less than 20,000 words.
To put this in perspective, a paperback of 100 pages would hardly be as thin as your little finger.
So we are talking about very short ebook reads here.
Of course, I got curious and looked at a few more bestselling Kindle ebook titles.
In the top 20 ebooks on Amazon Kindle, I found 4 short ebooks at around 100 pages, and they were priced between $1.99 and $3.99.
I could have dug deeper and found more quite easily I suppose, however, I was not interested in how many there were, but why these short ebooks were selling so well.
There has been a lot written about how reading an ebook is different from reading a book, and this article from the Guardian takes the view that readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper.
While I am sure this topic is open to debate, perhaps it is not in the psychology or physiology, as much as in where, when and how an ebook is read.
If one considers the situations when an ebook reader is useful, perhaps a different logic is possible.
Ebook reading is very convenient when travelling on a train, bus or plane, or when relaxing on a beach on vacation.
Perhaps also, during a coffee break at work, or while passing time in a doctor's waiting room.
All of these situations though are prone to interruption, unlike reading a book while in bed or lazing on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon.
In these situations, light, short reads would make sense, and would give give good reason as to why short ebooks are popular and sell well.
Sure, there are reasons to publish long, but it appears that there is definitely a new reading market, for ebook shorts.
Sure gives you something to think about, doesn't it?