Amazon has unveiled its “Kindle Singles” store. Says Amazon: “Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea — well researched, well argued and well illustrated — to be expressed at its natural length.” In practice, this appears to mean short stories as well as journalistic pieces that have (perhaps) been expanded upon. For example, a piece from n+1 is included, “Octomom and the Politics of Babies” by Mark Greif. Amazon writes that in this piece Greif “updates his insightful essay from last spring, where only the journal’s 10,000 readers had access to his dead-on critique of the American media culture that produced its own eight-headed monster.” Bottom line: Amazon is fishing for higher quality content at the low price points that Amazon readers have come to crave.
Amazon, whose tense negotiations with Hachette in the past months have led them to slow ship-times for its books, offered last night “to fund 50% of an author pool—to be allocated by Hachette—to mitigate the impact of this dispute on author royalties, if Hachette funds the other 50%.” Of course, Hachette may find calculating and allocating damages awkward so soon after authors flexed their social-media muscle. Sidebar: Amazon claimed “989 of 1000” items sold would be unaffected by this continuing “business interruption,” which might mean a full 1.1 percent of their business comes from just one mid-sized traditional publisher—heartening news from an unlikely source.
New this week: All That Is by James Salter, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn, The Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich, and Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perisic.
For those of you who won’t rest until you find out the truth about how Chris McCandless died, know that neither will Jon Krakauer. His recent discoveries appear in the afterword to a new edition of Into the Wild, released in 2015. Also check out this Millions essay on extreme survival books.