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Amazon launches Kindle Singles in the UK

Laura Hazard Owen

When Amazon launched Kindle Singles in the United States in January 2011, the format was new: Ideas “expressed at their natural length,” in a format longer than a magazine article but shorter than a book, and sold for a couple dollars apiece. There are now 281 titles in the Kindle Singles U.S. store, and Amazon is bringing the concept to the U.K.

The U.K. Kindle Singles store, launched Friday, includes 250 titles — including many Kindle Singles from U.S. authors as well as new ones from popular British authors like Susan Hill, Sam Leith and Candia McWilliam. Most are priced between £0.99 and £1.99, and as in the U.S., authors are paid a 70 percent royalty on works exclusive to Amazon. Andrew Rosenheim, the former managing director of Penguin Press in the U.K., is the editor of the U.K. store. Byliner, which offers many of its e-singles through Kindle Singles, will also make those titles available in the U.K.

3.5 million Kindle Singles had been sold in the U.S. as of September 2012, and some authors are making a lot of money. Amazon touted a couple more successes in its press release announcing the U.K. program:

Lee Child’s “Second Son” was released as a Kindle Single in August 2011 and went on to reach the #1 spot on the Amazon.com best sellers chart, selling in excess of 220,000 copies. Previously unpublished U.S. writer and musician, Mishka Shubaly, has written four Singles, all true stories about drink, drugs, disasters, desire, deception and their aftermath. All have been best sellers and have earned Shubaly in excess of $148,000 in 18 months (over £90,000).

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