TED, the renowned nonprofit conference and foundation that provides a platform to important writers, thinkers, and artists to offer “ideas worth spreading,” is launching TEDBooks, a line of short digital books, in a partnership with Amazon.com. The e-books will be short—from 10,000 to 20,000 words—and sell for $2.99 through Amazon’s Kindle Singles program beginning today. TED plans to expand the program to other digital formats in the future.
TED is renowned for bringing a wide range of world class intellectuals, organizers, writers, and thinkers to present their vision in a series of short talks. TED then puts videos of the talks online for free viewing. Now, says TED director/curator Chris Anderson, they plan to do the same thing with books.
“Busy people can be daunted at the prospect of having to read a 300- or 400-page book,” Anderson told PW in a phone interview. “TEDBooks fill that gap. Their shorter format allows someone to see an idea fleshed out in a satisfying way--without having to set aside a week of reading time,” he said. “With the growth of digital readers all bets are off and people who want to say something serious in a short form have options. Our TED Talks are limited to 18 minutes and we’ve found that short can work surprisingly well. We think people can write something that we can absorb in about an hour,” Anderson said.
The TEDBooks list will launch with three titles by TED speakers: The Happiness Manifesto: How Nations and People Can Nurture Well-Being by Nic Marks; Dangerism: Why We Worry About the Wrong Things, and What It’s Doing to Our Kids by Gever Tulley; and Homo Evolutis: Please Meet the Next Human Species by Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans.
Anderson says the list will expand over time to perhaps a dozen books a year. And while the initial titles will be by TEDTalk speakers, Anderson said he expects to expand the list to writers beyond the TED conferences.
“Why are books the length they are?” Anderson asked. “Is it their natural form or just a consequence of the needs of traditional book publishing? Books have always been important to TED and this is a great opportunity.”
Russ Grandinetti, v-p of Kindle content, said, “Our goal with Singles is to allow compelling ideas to be expressed at their natural length. TEDBooks fit nicely within that mission, TED has a great history of bringing important ideas to a wider audience, and we expect TEDBooks will add to that legacy."