Penguin is the latest publisher to test out e-singles with the launch of Penguin Shorts, an ongoing digital series of original fiction and nonfiction titles from authors like Colm Toibin and Anita Brookner.
The program is launching in the UK first, with nine titles being released on December 1. All are priced at £0.99 ($1.58) or £1.99. ($3.17) In the U.S., Penguin has been publishing short-form “Penguin eSpecials” since 2008, and those will be rebranded as Penguin Shorts next year.
A glance at the two countries’ lists suggests that Penguin has a little work to do in terms of branding and merging the titles under one banner. Most of the U.S. “eSpecials” are fantasy, romance and mystery titles (“Romancing Lady Cecily,” “Kris Longknife: Training Daze”), while the UK’s Shorts tend toward more serious topics like immigration and history’s great battles.
Penguin aims to publish new e-singles each month and sell them across e-bookstores.
In the U.S., Open Road and Rodale both recently announced e-singles publishing programs, and the “big six” publishers are experimenting with individual e-singles across platforms. I expect the next step for these publishers is more branded programs like Penguin Shorts.