Amazon officially launches Kindle Singles

A few months back Amazon called on writers and publishers to create shorter works for its new Kindle Singles category. That category has now officially launched and has been integrated into the Kindle Store.

You'd think Kindle Singles was the name for a new online dating service for Kindle owners. But as we wrote a few months ago, it's really a new category in the Kindle Store that features written works longer than a typical magazine article or "as much as a few chapters of a typical book." Today, those works officially became available.

Jodi Picoult's bestselling Kindle Single. Amazon

Amazon says the first set of Kindle Singles includes original reporting, essays, memoirs, fiction, and some works from famous writers. The company says it plans to "frequently launch" more Kindle Singles over time.

Singles are available to both Kindle device and app users with prices ranging between $0.99 and $4.99. We're actually a little surprised that prices are this high (we thought some items might be available for 49 cents). Many full-length e-books are available for $2.99 or less in the Kindle Store. True, many of those are from indie publishers, but some are from traditional publishers running specials on particular titles.

It's worth noting that Amazon is mixing Kindle Singles right into the Kindle Store along with everything else. They are also factored into top-products lists just like any other e-book.

Though you'll see some Amazon-approved free offerings in the Kindle Store and a handful of Kindle e-books that cost less than 99 cents, Amazon's self-publishing system--Kindle Direct Publishing--has a minimum price floor of 99 cents. (You get a 70 percent royalty if you price your work at $2.99, but anything less drops the royalty to 35 percent). In other words, the same rules and royalty rates apply to Singles as they do to full-length Kindle e-books.

For now anyway, it seems as if the "Kindle Single" designation is just a way for authors to set readers' expectations for what they're buying. Ideally, Amazon would break out Singles into its own store (there's a top-10 bestseller list for Singles, but nothing beyond that).

Oh, and an online dating service for Kindle owners would be good, too. You never know what a little e-book swapping might lead to.

More: My Amazon Kindle Single publishing experiment (ZDNet)