Why Do Short Kindle Ebooks Seem To Sell So Well On Amazon?

Why Do Short Ebooks Sell

Do readers prefer short ebooks to read? Do novellas sell well? I’ll try to keep the answer 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 Amazon lists the ebook at only 105 pages long.

That’s short by any measure. But it’s not easy to calculate the number of words in an ebook. You first need to know what defines a page on Kindle.

What is novella length?

I did a quick check of one of my ebooks, which is a short novella. Amazon calculates it to be 112 pages long.

my take away vampire

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

Using the same equation means that Amazon class a page of an ebook at around 180 words.

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

When you consider that a full-length novel is between 50,000 and 80,000 words or more, we are talking about writing and publishing very short fiction ebook reads.

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 four 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.

 

My favorite book could be a novella

Out of interest, I checked my old battered first edition paperback copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

hhgttg

It is a hugely popular classic, but it has only 159 pages. Yes, it’s a very thin paperback and a quick read.

But the latest Kindle edition must have some added extras because it seems to have grown in page count over the years.

hhgttg kindle pages

However, even at 208 pages, it could still be considered a novella-length work at around 35,000 words.

To go to the extreme of popular short book classics, A Message To Garcia by Elbert Hubbard is available on the Kindle Store. It is only 26 pages long.

I could have dug deeper and found more quite quickly.

But I had discovered more than I needed to know. Do novellas sell? Yes, the novella form is popular with readers and especially ebook buyers.

 

Do novellas sell?

novellas sell

Is there a market for novella ebooks, and do they sell? Yes, they do sell well.

Here are two ebooks that I found and then extracted the sales data by using Publisher Rocket.

lila the one

This ebook is only 29 pages but has monthly sales of $416.00.

Another one has even better sales.

65 things

Again, it is extremely short at 28 pages, or just under 5,000 words. But it rakes in nearly $1,000.00 a month in sales.

I could have added the details of many more books I found. But these two are sufficient to give you enough proof of how well short ebooks can sell.

Do readers check the page count when they buy an ebook? I doubt it.

If an ebook is available on Kindle Unlimited, I dare say a reader wouldn’t even bother to look.

In other words, it’s the attraction of the story that counts, and not the length.

 

Why are novellas popular?

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’m sure this topic is open to debate, perhaps it is not the psychology or physiology, as much as where, when, and how people read an ebook.

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

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

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

All of these situations 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 explain why short ebooks are popular and sell well.

 

Self-publishing novellas

novella ebooks

Firstly, it’s worth defining what counts as a novella. In general, it is a work of fiction of between 20,000 and 50,000 words.

However, novellas now are usually much closer to the lower word count range or below.

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

Luckily, Amazon has a limit on how short an ebook can be.

It’s not widely publicized, but Amazon rarely accepts to publish ebooks of 2,500 words or less.

You can find the note in KDP help under disappointing content. It mentions that Amazon KDP does not allow the publishing of content that is too short.

This limitation stops most publishers of extremely short flash fiction.

But for fiction authors, there is an opportunity to chop a full-length novel of 100,000 words into three parts perhaps and publish three ebooks instead of one.

When you can sell a short ebook for around the same price as a full novel, it’s a simple mathematical equation. It might also be a profitable business decision.

 

Short is in for self-help ebooks

If you want to buy very short ebooks, look no further than how-to and self-help ebooks.

Many of them are a cut and paste job of a handful of blog posts and articles of 1,000 words with the addition of a compelling introduction.

It really is super easy to publish an ebook from your blog posts.

There’s a lot of reader interest in self-help ebooks, which makes it a lucrative market. For any author or writer, it’s certainly a market worth investigating.

You can use short nonfiction ebooks to help you promote your blog or to sell your services. Or yes, to sell them on Amazon and make some money.

 

Summary

For authors, publishing short creates many new publishing possibilities.

It opens the door to write short story collections, novellas, prose fiction, or self-help nonfiction.

The most significant advantage is that short ebooks take less time to write. On top of that, you can expect to sell a short ebook at a similar price to a full novel.

These are compelling reasons to publish shorter and more often.

If you’re about to write a new book, will you publish long or short?

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

19 thoughts on “Why Do Short Kindle Ebooks Seem To Sell So Well On Amazon?

  • Avatar for Rey
    May 28, 2019 at 4:54 am
    Permalink

    Hello

    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

    Reply
    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      May 28, 2019 at 7:05 am
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
  • Avatar for Janet Waters
    August 4, 2018 at 11:36 am
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
    • Avatar for Raymond Beckham
      June 11, 2019 at 10:37 am
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
  • Avatar for RA
    July 15, 2018 at 9:31 pm
    Permalink

    I write short story erotica. I have 11 ebooks out now that are not selling at all. I have only had sales during free promotions. I feel like I am wasting my time. My covers, keywords and descriptions are all good though. I have heard that other writers of short erotica are making loads of cash.
    I have no idea if I am doing something wrong or is it short story erotica in 2018 just aint what it use to me. Should I start writing novellas? I am so confused right now. What do you guys think?

    Reply
  • Avatar for Nik Morton
    April 2, 2018 at 3:06 pm
    Permalink

    I write long (120k, 80k etc) and short (30k, 45k). My novella CONTINUITY GIRL is sci-fi… This genre seems popular for novella writers. I have also a collection (so far) of 6 books of my short stories, themed (sci-fi, crime, adventure, etc) which are all at novella length albeit individual previously published (and some prize-winning) short stories.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Penny Wobbly
    November 5, 2017 at 7:04 am
    Permalink

    I find this very interesting. My daily post seems to be gathering a following. They are very short articles. I did not think they would be of interest. However i have strong memories, of the delightful shortened versions of some very famous books in Readers Digest. My memories go even furthur back to Enid Blyton’s Sunny Stories, which hooked me into reading. They were far less daunting than a whole book. Some of the stories held you in suspense, till the arrival of the next instalment, magical.
    Today the People’s Friend, is holding it’s own, with short story’s, instalments, and everyday dramas and culinary concoctions , to tempt us into the kitchen. With all the old make them yourself crafts, encouraging new small businesses..
    Waiting in my cupboard are a few 10 page stories, perhaps now is the time to send them out into the World., to test the water.

    Reply
  • Avatar for Samantha Dee
    October 21, 2017 at 9:54 am
    Permalink

    I’ve pondered that actually, other articles I’ve read suggest, for non-fiction, “say what you want to say” – meaning not to stretch the book out just because you feel you need to, as that shows.

    I’m writing a humorous A to Z, so it’s designed to be picked up and put down – I believe this will cater for modern lifestyles.

    Reply

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.