Among the usual suspects like Michael Connelly and James Patterson on the top 10 list of paid Kindle bestsellers this week was something of a surprise: Inside Apple — From Steve Jobs Down to the Janitor: How America’s Most Successful – and Most Secretive – Big Company Really Works by Adam Lashinsky. If you’re thinking that title sounds a little magazine-y, you’re right: it’s the same piece that ran in Fortune on May 9.
It is available to paid subscribers of the magazine via Fortune‘s iPad app (non-subscribers can buy an iPad edition of the issue for $4.99) or for $0.99 in the Kindle Store. The one place you won’t find the piece in full is on Fortune‘s website — but that’s intentional. Inside Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) hit #9 on Friday before falling farther down the list today.
It’s the latest evidence that publishers are getting more creative about offering content in different lengths and price points on different platforms to create new revenue streams.
Long-form journalism website Byliner published its first Byliner Original, a piece by Jon Krakauer that accuses Three Cups of Tea bestselling author Greg Mortenson of mismanaging funds for his charity, as a $2.99 Kindle Single late last month. The 75-page Three Cups of Deceit has crossed over from the Kindle Single bestseller list to became the #2 nonfiction title on Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) as a whole, beating out print titles by authors like Michael Lewis and David Brooks. The second Byliner Original, the 61-page Into the Forbidden Zone: A Trip Through Hell and High Water in Post-Earthquake Japan by William T. Vollmann, is the #4 bestselling Kindle Single and is #17 on Amazon’s overall nonfiction list.
One tip Fortune might want to take from Byliner: make sure pieces are long enough to make readers feel that buying them individually is worth it. “I bought this knowing that it was just an article from a magazine but I still felt it should have been more detailed. They could have at least put in some extras like interview transcripts or something like that,” one reviewer writes. Another complains, “Since it was not a very long article, I think it would have been better priced at 50 cents at most. An entire fully staffed newspaper costs anywhere from 25 cents to over $1 so, for just one article by one man (delivered electronically too!), 99 cents is about twice what it should cost for what you get.”
The fact that Inside Apple was released as a regular ebook rather than as a Kindle Single might have misled some buyers about its length. Fortune.com Managing Editor Daniel Roth told us that Amazon declined to include the piece in its Kindle Single program. If article-length ebooks take off and Amazon doesn’t increase eligibility for Kindle Singles, it will have to find better ways to explain to prospective buyers what they are getting for their money. Even if it’s only $0.99.
Check out our bestseller lists to find out the most popular digital content of the day from iTunes, YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG), Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), Facebook and Kindle.