I call it “the rise of the non-book.”
I’m talking about the increasing number of extremely short Kindle
e-books being published and sold on Amazon.
My FB friend TJ describes Kindle as a place “where anyone can
string 10,000 words together, make a cover, call it a book, and
present it to the world.”
Back in the day, when I wrote my first book in 1981, you had to
write an actual book to become a “real” author.
For a 200-page trade paperback or hardcover book, that meant
writing, on average, about 80,000 words.
Not a monumental task, but quite a bit of work.
Among my 93 published books (plus two more under contract and
being written by me even as you read this email), most are around
Yes, a few are only around 100 pages. And I have written half a
dozen published children’s books which are even shorter.
However, these short ones balance out with several adult
nonfiction titles that are over 300 pages … and one that is a
whopping 800 pages — “The Advertising Manager’s Handbook,”
published by Prentice-Hall.
But today, as TJ points out, you can write a short document —
just 10,000 words, 5,000 words, or even less — slap a nice cover
on it, create a Kindle e-book, and sell it online.
When people see it on Amazon, most don’t realize it is a
glorified report or article — and they mistake it for the author
having written a real full-length book.
To self-promoters who want to inflate their guru status,
publishing a series of short pieces as individual Kindle e-books
is a quick and easy way to make yourself look like a more
prolific book author than you really are.
But for actual book authors, like me, it devalues your work and
production — because to the untrained eye, it looks like everyone
has written as many books as you have.
This is why I am a fan of paperbound books over Kindle e-books,
and of books sold by mainstream publishing houses vs.
Having a paperbound book with a major publisher doesn’t guarantee
But at least the book has been vetted at several levels beyond
the author himself — including the literary agent, publishing
house editorial committee (they make the decision whether to buy
and publish your book), book editor, copy editor, and
I know many of you today are self-publishing and Kindle fanatics.
But to borrow phrasing from “Make Mine Marvel” Stan Lee, “Make
mine McGraw-Hill (or Macmillan, or Morrow.)”
You get the idea.