This week Apple has introduced a new section on the iBooks store that bears the title Quick Reads. The section contains shorter, cheaper ebooks that aim to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Singles. The books are much smaller in size than your average iBook and range in price from $0.99 to $4.99.
The new section features a mix of genres that span both fiction and non-fiction selections. Many of the offerings are novellas or short stories, some are essays. There are some recognizable names on the list though, like Lee Child, John Scalzi and Anne Rice. There are other types of offerings on display too like recipe books and bundles of instructive websites like IKEA hacks.
It’s obvious that the introduction of a special section dedicated to ‘Quick Reads’ is a response to a couple of factors. Primary among them, as always, is the opportunity for more revenue. Amazon saw the desire for quick, bite-sized pieces of information that is exemplified in the Twitter hashtag #longreads, which collates long-form articles that could be packaged into short book form and sold as ebooks. It filled this desire with the Kindle Singles offering.
A recent example of a success in the Kindle Singles category is the 27,000 word Ars Technica review of Apple’s new OS X Lion, written by John Siracusa, which was offered as a Kindle Single and did very well when sold for $4.99.
Another factor is that there are many types of publications, like recipe collections or the course notes for a college course, that don’t fit into the book mold all that well. These take advantage of the increasingly short amount of time that people have to read, especially as they grow used to the bite-sized blog posts like this one, where the important information is delivered quickly and succinctly.
Apple’s ability to mold the App Store as it sees fit, without having to release an update to iTunes or the iOS devices, has led it to make several changes lately, expanding the section headers to feature specific apps in a more visually appealing fashion and enabling users to share items they find on iTunes via social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
This flexibility has propelled the iBooks store to major levels of popularity in its first year, topping 5 million downloads as of June of last year. It has gained in popularity as it has provided quick and easy access to a captive audience of iPad and iPhone users that have the ability to find other book sellers, but none as painlessly as the iBooks store that they are prompted to install the first time that they open the App Store.
It will be interesting to see if the Quick Reads section turns into a permanent fixture, joining the main categories on the iBooks store. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can do it here.