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Kindle Singles: Return of the Pamphlet

February 1st, 2011 by Chris Strauber

Amazon launched a new publishing platform last week for writing which falls in the space between article-length and book-length.  Called Kindle Singles, it’s designed to showcase (and provide a way to sell) writing that doesn’t quite fit into conventional publishing buckets. Wired is calling it a savior of long-form journalism, and in fact the Single I read last night is a lengthy history of the organizers of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai and their connections with Pakistani intelligence. There are also stories on parenting by Jodi Picoult, an essay on evil, and a couple of dozen other things.

From a scholarly angle, I am wonder if it could also provide a venue for a return of the wonderful variety of non-book things which were printed before the invisible hand of the market had worked out categories like newspapers and journals and novels and monographs. See for example the Thomason Tracts in Early English Books Online, which Tufts is lucky enough to have. Books are the length they are because

It would be lovely not to have these things published just for Kindle, though you can now download the Kindle software onto anything more intelligent than a toaster (OK, just Macs, PCs, and most advanced phones, but still). So it’s tied to Amazon, though not to a particular device. But if Amazon demonstrates a market for this kind of writing, there may be some potential here.

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