Students have embraced e-readers as an alternative to printed books. One of the more engaging options to emerge from the e-reader phenomenon is the Kindle Single, typically a short story or novella available for a discounted price. I’ve purchased many of singles since I received my first Kindle a year ago.
There are many good reasons for academics and academic publishing to embrace digital formats. Academic texts can be offered at a considerable discount, publishers sell more books and scholars’ ideas can have wider circulation. It’s a great frustration to most academic authors: we spend our lives writing books that only a handful of people know about, and fewer read.
This article in The Chronicle of Higher Education offers an interesting proposal: using the Kindle Single model as new path for academic publishing. This is not a radical idea. Many presses are promoting shorter academic works, from the Center for a Public Anthropology’s annual competition (that specifically asks for 100 page manuscripts to be printed by the University of California Press) to Princeton and Stanfords “shorts” series. Some presses are also experimenting with serialized monographs.
What is important is that these models preserve a rigorous peer review process and that institutions recognize and accept these shorter texts for tenure and promotion.