There is a report over on KBoards earlier this week that Amazon might be about to adopt a new minimum word count for ebooks sold in the Kindle Store.
According to the email that one author received, Amazon is going to remove ebooks that are less than 2,500 words long.
KBoards member MarlaB posted the email which says: “In the best interest of Kindle customers, we remove titles from sale that may create a poor customer experience. Content that is less than 2,500 words is often disappointing to our customers and does not provide an enjoyable reading experience.”
But will this really happen? I’m not so sure.
Edit: Amazon KDP has denied the story. Scroll down for the proof.
Several authors have already commented on this topic on KBoards that their work might be affected, and that they have not received any emails from Amazon. The lack of notice from Amazon is leading some to wonder if this might be an isolated incident. In the words of one author:
I’m on several really big lists with authors all writing very short works, and no one else has ever gotten this. The guess is that it was triggered by a customer who decided to complain to just the right rep. Amazon has a habit of overreacting in cases like that.
This is probably true.
While Amazon is in the habit of suddenly enforcing new rules with little notice, they also make sure to tell everyone about it. In May 2012 Amazon got serious about banning public domain and junk ebooks from the Kindle Store, and they sent out an email to all KDP authors and publishers. The email highlighted Amazon’s content rules, which said in part:
Some types of content, such as public domain content, may be free to use by anyone, or may be licensed for use by more than one party. We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content. For example, if you received your book content from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and the content is freely available on the web, we will not accept it for sale on the Kindle store. We do accept public domain content, however we may choose to not sell a public domain book if its content is undifferentiated or barely differentiated from one or more other books.
Amazon has not sent out an email announcing a shift in policy for short-short ebooks, so I’m not completely convinced that there is a new policy.
So how short is 2,500 words? To put it one way, it’s a really long blog post, and it’s also much shorter than what Amazon allows into the Kindle Single Store. But from a book perspective that length is not unusual. A work that is less than 7,500 words is typically defined as a short story, and a short-short can be as short as a thousand words. Stories of this length used to be bundled into anthologies, but thanks to the rise of ebooks each story can be sold individually.
I have queried Amazon and will report back with their response.
Update: I never heard back from Amazon but another author did. This was posted in the comments over at The Passive Voice:
I can confirm that that information is not from Kindle Direct Publishing, therefore it is not true.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for using Amazon KDP.
It looks like I was right all along. Amazon hasn’t changed their policy, which means that this really was just a single incident.
image by D’oh Boy (Mark Holloway)