Huffpost Books
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Howard Polskin Headshot

The Number of E-Book Singles Released in Q2 Swells 18 percent, Reflecting Growing Market

Posted: Updated:

The e-book single market experienced a growth spurt in the second quarter as evidenced by the sharp upswing in the number of titles released to consumers.

Ninety-six e-book singles were published in the second quarter, according to Thin Read's exclusive analysis of the past three months. That marks an 18 percent increase compared to 2013's first quarter, when 81 titles were released. The Thin Reads analysis revealed that 50 titles were nonfiction and 46 were fiction.

Thin Reads maintains the world's largest database of e-book singles and it's adding roughly a new title every day.

Additionally, Thin Reads research found that 93 were Original, which means they were created especially as short works of nonfiction or fiction intended to be read on an electronic platform for its original release. The most prominent Encore title -- or previously published -- was John Grisham's short novella, Fetching Raymond, which was first published in 2009 as part of the author's collection of novellas called Ford County. (Read the Thin Reads review.)

The quarter was defined by an abundance of high quality work from prominent fiction and nonfiction authors many of whom were writing their first e-book singles. This infusion of content at the e-book single length -- 20 to 100 pages -- may lead to a new era in long-form journalism and a rebirth in the art of short-story writing.

A Textbook Case, by Jeffery Deaver, and Pros and Cons, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, spent the most weeks (six) in the quarter as the top-selling fiction e-book singles, according to the Thin Reads analysis of the Kindle Single best-seller lists. Best-selling authors continued to completely dominate the fiction best-seller list, according to the Thin Reads exclusive analysis of Amazon's Kindle Single Best Sellers. Very few unknown authors made it onto the fiction list -- even briefly -- during the second quarter.

That was not the case on the Kindle Single nonfiction best-seller list. Almost every week saw more relatively unknown authors with little brand name recognition crack the list, based on their ability to write compelling and timely stories. Kevin Jackson's Mayflower: The Voyage from Hell dominated the quarter's nonfiction list, spending five weeks as #1. Trial by Fury: Internet Savagery and the Amanda Knox Case by Douglas Preston was #1 for four weeks during the quarter. Late in the quarter, Peter Ross Range's Murder in the Yoga Store soared up the best-seller list and has remained the #1 title for the last half of June.

Notable authors who published e-book singles in the quarter include:

-- Niall Ferguson, Always Right (nonfiction); the author's admiring assessment of the late Margaret Thatcher.
--John Grisham, Fetching Raymond (fiction); about a death-row inmate who receives a visit from his family.
-- David Mamet, The Handle and the Hold (fiction); about two WW II veterans who are hired to steal an airplane to smuggle arms to Palestine. (Read the Thin Reads review.)
-- George Saunders, Fox 8 (fiction); which tells the story of a likeable fox who likes humans.
-- Karin Slaughter, Busted (fiction); the prequel to Slaughter's new long-form novel Unseen.
-- Anthony Swofford, Death of an American Sniper (nonfiction); which looks at the life and death of Chris Kyle, perhaps the greatest American sharpshooter ever.
-- James Wolcott, Wild in the Seats (nonfiction); an appraisal of the scandalous premiere of the ballet "The Rite of Spring" 100 years ago in Paris. (Read the Thin Reads rave review.)

Only James Wolcott and Karin Slaughter had previously written an e-book single. For the other authors, it was the first time their stories were available for the e-book single market.

Among the trends uncovered by the Thin Reads analysis of second quarter e-book single releases:

-- Publishers love stories about women accused of murder. Four e-book singles about Jodi Arias were published in the quarter. One e-book single about Amanda Knox came out in April. Murder in the Yoga Store, about a woman convicted of killing her co-worker, was released late this month and is already the top-selling nonfiction e-book single.
--Big name novelists like Janet Evanovich, Karin Slaughter, and John Grisham use e-book singles to generate income as well as promote their upcoming long-form books.
-- More e-book singles are being published almost in the middle of news cycles for headline-grabbing topics. On June 18, Publishers Weekly came out with The Battle for $9.99, an e-book single about the Justice Department's case against Apple in an e-book price-fixing case before there was a verdict. The Chicago Tribune released Hawkeytown, about the Chicago Blackhawk's stunning season just days after winning the Stanley Cup in June. And two AP reporters who covered the Jodi Arias trial had the e-book single Killer Girlfriend available in mid-spring before a verdict was rendered.
-- More influential companies are entering the e-book single market. In the second quarter, Barnes & Noble released four e-book singles that it commissioned including an ambitious oral history of the Upright Comedy Brigade called High-Status Characters. (Read interview with author Brian Raftery.) Publishers Weekly also came out with its first e-book single.
-- Stephen King may have shunned the e-book format with the June release of Joyland but his e-book singles performed exceptionally well in the second quarter. He had six e-book single titles in the best-seller charts in the quarter (five fiction and one nonfiction).