Why Do Short Ebooks Seem To Sell So Well?

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Why Do Short Ebooks Sell So Well

Do readers prefer short ebooks to read?

I’ll keep this short.

By chance, I was looking at the Amazon Kindle Store and clicked on an ebook listed in the top twenty bestsellers.

I scanned down the book’s details and was surprised to note that the ebook was listed as being only 105 pages in length.

Now, by this measure, it is not easy to calculate the number of words, because what defines a page on Kindle?

Perhaps a rough equivalent to a page in a trade paperback.

I did a quick check of one of my own ebooks, which is a short novella, and saw that Kindle calculated it to be 110 pages long.

I know this book is a shade under 20,000 words, so now I can say with certainty that any ebook listed on Kindle with around 100 pages, has a word count of less than 20,000.

To put this in perspective, a paperback of 100 pages would hardly be as thick as your little finger.

So we are talking about writing and publishing very short ebook reads here.

Of course, I got curious and looked at a few more bestselling Kindle ebook titles.

In the top 20 ebooks on Amazon Kindle, I found 4 short ebooks at around 100 pages, and they were priced between $1.99 and $3.99. That is a similar price range to full length novels.

I could have dug deeper and found more quite easily I suppose, however, I was not interested in how many there were, but why these short ebooks were selling so well.

There has been a lot written about how reading an ebook is different from reading a book. This article from the Guardian takes the view that readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper.

While I am sure this topic is open to debate, perhaps it is not in the psychology or physiology, as much as in where, when and how an ebook is read.

If one considers the situations when an ebook reader is useful, perhaps a different logic is possible.

Ebook reading is very convenient when travelling on a train, bus or plane, or when relaxing on a beach on vacation.

Perhaps also, during a coffee break at work, or while passing time in a doctor’s waiting room.

All of these situations though are prone to interruption, unlike reading a long work of speculative fiction while in bed or lazing on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon.

In these situations, light, short reads would make sense and would give a good reason as to why short ebooks are popular and sell well.

Sure, there are reasons to publish long, but it appears that there is definitely a new reading market, for selling short stories.

For authors, it creates new possibilities. It opens the door to write short story collections, novellas or prose fiction.

So, if you write a book are you publishing long, or short?


Related reading: How To Publish A Book The Right Way To Reach More Readers


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

18 thoughts on “Why Do Short Ebooks Seem To Sell So Well?

  • May 28, 2019 at 4:54 am


    How long are your stories (if you dont mind me asking) I am currently writing a story and at times I feel like it’s going to end with barely 60 pages done.
    I know the story isnt a novel but I’m curious as to how many pages it should be to sell well as an ebook

    Thank you

    • May 28, 2019 at 7:05 am

      Hello Rey. I generally class a novella as around 30,000 words and a full novel at between 60-80,000 words. But there are no strict rules.

  • August 4, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Slightly off topic, but I haven’t found my calculation of kindle pages to be the same as yours. One of my books has 105,000 words, yet it is listed on kindle as only 269 pages.

    • June 11, 2019 at 10:37 am

      Yes, my book is 97k and also shows as 269 Pages. Even the physical book is 330, so, who knows how they come up with this.


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