Much like the music business using 45s of the 1960s and 1970s, today’s publishing is using smaller bits of books to attract sales of the complete work. The e-book option was exercised on a chapter omitted from a book by NPR’s The Math Guy, Keith Devlin. His new book The Man Of Numbers had a chapter dropped onto the cutting room floor that Devlin and his agent Ted Weinstein produced and have published as a single, available across all the ebook reader platforms.

There’s about 70 such Singles in the Amazon Kindle store, many  of them fiction in the form of short stories. Amazon wants an author to have a complete book for sale in order to get a Single into the store. The Singles, of course, have always been digital files; a few years back they were PDFs that you didn’t even need a Kindle to read.

The extra material from Devlin’s book is about Leonardo DaVinci and his 600-year jump on Steve Jobs. More importantly, it’s a way for Devlin’s traditional publisher to let the author test the waters, permitting authors to create these singles. Devlin cut his own deal in publishing to make the Single appear, but he needed permission from Man of Numbers publisher Bloomsbury to do it.

Independent singles in the record business could spark a complete album, and still do. The record label took its standard cut of the sales, though. Book authors who write long — especially the nonfiction writer like the one that I’m editing this week — can generate their own higher-percentage revenues from a single. Bloomsbury figures short works like this single will help sell The Man of Numbers. It also serves as a roadmap for making a good but standalone chapter an earner for an author. More details at the Paid Content website. Weinstein wants everybody to understand he’s not adding “publisher” to his business card, and he’s still an agent. That’s his story today, anyway. Good agents will see these allied deals and partner with their authors.

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