Compelling Ideas Expressed at Their Natural Length

Compelling Ideas Expressed at Their Natural Length

“Long-form journalism is the only homegrown American literary form,” writes Virginia Heffernan in this essay in the New York Times. Is “narrative nonfiction” an American artform? The genre has suffered in recent years, due to the economic downturn and the pressure it has placed on many of the magazines that once championed the form of journalism, she writes. However is that about to change? Is Amazon about to become narrative nonfiction’s “white night”?

From her story: “So it’s entirely fitting that Amazon, that indigenous American e-tailer, now sells narrative nonfiction by masters like Pete Hamill, Ron Rosenbaum and Mark Greif in a pricing and programming algorithm that Amazon has developed exclusively for it. These are the Kindle Singles, novella-length nonfiction packaged as e-books. They sell for $2 to $3 apiece. (A novel-length Kindle book, by contrast, goes for anywhere between $4 and $12.) Amazon calls these short e-books Compelling Ideas Expressed at Their Natural Length.”

Heffernan argues that such journalism has lured her away from free content found on the Web, to reading more substantial reporting, and paying for it, on her Kindle. As sign of things to come? Let’s hope so.

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