In early 2011, Amazon launched Kindle Singles, and among those who saw the potential of the short-form digital content model were Chandos Erwin, managing director of the digital agency Oatmeal Beach, and Ivan Dee, chief editor of Quadrangle Books and then founder of Ivan R. Dee Inc. (now an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield).
“We see great potential in the future of publishing e-singles,” said Dee, who left Ivan R. Dee in 2010. “The price point and length of the content lowers the threshold for convincing potential buyers to try us. For the price and time it takes to drink a Starbucks latte, a serious reader can access good writing on important subjects.”
After launching in December, Now and Then Reader’s goal is to publish three to four substantial pieces of digital nonfiction a month for all platforms: Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Android. The e-books are priced between $1.99 and $3.99, and range from 5,000 to 25,000 words. The company, which will soon have released 11 titles, will publish its first Kindle Single on February 8. “Artificial Epidemics” by Stewart Justman is a look at how medical activism caused the widespread overdiagnosis of prostate cancer and depression. And while the publisher doesn’t expect all its titles to become Kindle Singles, Dee and Erwin are hopeful that they’ll continue working with Amazon. In other platform news, Now and Then Reader has made a deal with Apple’s Quick Reads program for its titles to be featured.
Dee said he and Erwin “like to think of ourselves as catering to a serious audience, interested in nonfiction of lasting importance and with an emphasis on historically based material.” To that end, Now and Then Reader publishes original nonfiction titles as well as excerpts from forthcoming and previously published books, with a concentration on historical writings. The topics of the e-books already released indicate the breadth of Now and Then Reader’s catalogue. Titles at launch included “Holy Cow 2000: The Strange Election of George W. Bush” by Kenneth O’Reilly and a translation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s seminal essay “Paris Under the Occupation.” A title that has sold particularly well is “John F. Kennedy’s Women: The Story of a Sexual Obsession.”
Now and Then Reader is now looking to raise its profile, and Dee said the greatest challenge it’s facing is “being taken seriously by writers and reviewers. It’s just a matter of getting their attention.”