Kindle singles have been available for about a week, and my household has been brave enough to give them a try. Not only did I read one, but I convinced my dear wife and non-ebook fan Sarah to try one as well! I read a non-fiction title (Lifted, by Evan Ratliff), while Sarah read Leaving Home: Short Pieces by Jodi Picoult, who is one of her favorite authors.
I enjoyed Lifted immensely. It was quick-paced, interesting, and read like a longer magazine article. What I really enjoyed was that it cut right to the important bits. If Lifted had been a full-size book, it would have been padded with background on each person, and the actual heist would have been pushed to the last 1/4 or stretched out unnaturally throughout the story. Instead, it was focused very specifically on the robbery and the known facts, which made it tight and engaging.
Sarah, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy her Jodi Picoult single as much. There was an author note about how the stories were just designed to whet your appetite for future works, but even so, Sarah felt like they were too short. She wanted more of the stories and background than the format offered. In fact, she said, “I’m glad I tried this, but in the future, I wouldn’t pay for one of these. Too short for what it was.”
After some discussion, we decided that our differing conclusions were due to non-fiction versus fiction. Sometimes short stories are the perfect length, but they can be tougher with fiction to get the tone and style right. On the other hand, non-fiction translates better to shorter works. Earlier in the week Teleread posted an article by Joe Wilkert about how Kindle Singles could be sold for MORE than their list price (he actually had far more to say than that and it’s worth reading his whole post). Still, I read it and thought it was way off, that I wouldn’t have paid more than a few dollars for Lifted. Meanwhile, Sarah’s attitude was that it was too short and unsatisfying to pay much for Singles. In the end, it seems like Kindle Singles are like Fun-Size candies. Sometimes they’re exactly what you need, sometimes they’re too much sugar, and sometimes they don’t satisfy your craving for that King-size bar you wanted instead!
What I Like: Fun way to share a story without much filler
What Sarah Didn’t Like: Too short, the stories were sad and lacked depth