Kindle Vella (or, Kindle Starts Offering Serialized Stories)

Amazon has a new format for Kindle, an episodic or serialized storytelling platform called Kindle Vella. I’m still unclear on all of the gory details, but it boils down to reading (buying) a longer story in installments or one chapter at a time.

Books have been serialized in newspapers and magazines for hundreds of years. The format was particularly popular in the 19th century when it peaked with serializations by famous authors like Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

Some literary websites have experimented with serialization over the years, with varying degrees of success. But this is the first time the idea has been embraced by Amazon for its Kindle users.

Which leads me to wonder what’s in it for Amazon. Because it looks like a lot is going on behind the scenes, technically, to make it work. For Amazon to justify that development cost, they must be banking on increased profits with Vella compared to similar book sales.

I don’t know if that works out to be a better deal for the authors. Changes in publishing rarely come about to benefit authors.

Speaking of authors, 99% of the Vella titles seem to be fantasy or romance (turning off the “adult” filter opens up a seemingly endless river of weird internet-age porn if that’s your kind of thing), which makes sense, I suppose, if I was looking at this from a marketing perspective.

“Emma Fox” and “Noah Kincaid” sound like the results of a particularly unimaginative name generator…

From a writer’s perspective, I’ve always been interested in serialization. Figuring out some way to make it work. There just hasn’t been a good place to do it.

Is Kindle Vella that place? I don’t know. I’d have to see more serious writing in there before I’d really want to throw my hat into that ring.

Or I suppose what I’m really saying is I’d have to see that there’s a market there for writing beyond fantasy and romance. I may well be chopping something up and making it available if that happens.

day 55


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