Selling chapters instead of books

I have to say that I find this report a little odd:

Taking a cue from the music business, a major publisher today will begin selling the individual chapters of a popular book to gauge reader demand for bite-size portions of digital texts.

Random House Publishing Group’s experiment appears to be the first time a major consumer publisher has offered a title on a chapter-by-chapter basis. It will sell the six chapters and epilogue of “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” for $2.99 each.

The move comes at a time when retailers and publishers are looking for clues into how readers want to access digital content. Most recently, Amazon Inc. announced that it was buying audiobook seller Audible Inc. for about $280 million. Late last year, Amazon introduced its Kindle electronic-book reader, a device with built-in wireless Internet access that quickly sold out upon debut.

Publishers are convinced that as it becomes easier to download books, and screen technology improves, an ever-larger number of readers will opt to receive digital content.

Having read Made To Stick, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would want just one chapter.  I can see how selling chapters from essay, short story, or column collections might be attractive, but in most stand alone books don’t the chapters build on each other?

As a Kindle owner I am excited about more and more content being available in inexpensive formats.  It should be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.  I am glad publishers are experimenting with content delivery, but I am little skeptical whether this selling chapters individually has broad application. 

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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