How long should a book be?
According to the founders of Chicago and Dublin, Calif.-based start-up Slimbooks, only as long as it needs to be. Slimbooks is another short-form e-book content start-up in the mold of The Atavist or Byliner. The difference, the company’s founders say, is that Slimbooks wants to build a publisher brand that readers can trust.
“There are very few people in the publishing space who are building brands that have any value,” said Kevin Madsen, one of the company’s co-founders.
Launched today, Slimbooks intends to publish mostly non-fiction and some fiction, citing that the problem of “fluff,” or content used to fill out a book to a more marketable length, is more prevalent with non-fiction. The company does not want to publish any “fluff” — only what the author wants to include.
The company will release three-to-five books on the 10th of every month under categories like “Slim fiction,” “Slim history” and “Slim business” — names that they hope will at some point resonate with readers as reliable sources of small packets of information. All the books will be sold for $4.95.
The books that the company launched with toady are [RE]FRAME by Sarah Evans and Indralas by Bridgette Conrow. The former is a book full of “daily inspiration” and subtitled “little inspirations for a larger purpose” and the latter is the first book in a fantasy series. A third book for September, Blogtastic, about how to blog well, will be released later this week.
All Slimbooks titles are available on Kindle, Nook and other major e-book stores in addition to the Slimbooks bookstore. Madsen, the co-founder, said that he anticipates most of the book sales coming through the publisher’s own store as most of the marketing by publisher and authors will be directed there.
Slimbooks authors get 50% of the proceeds of each sale. For books sold on Amazon, where the retailer takes a cut, authors will get 50% of what’s left over. For books sold on Slimbooks, authors get 50% of the sale price.
In addition to publishing its own titles, Slimbooks hopes to partner with larger, more-established book publishers that have authors who want to publish shorter works in anticipation of a longer work or to fill the gap between releases that are years apart. The company wants the relationship to go both ways with Slimbooks serving as a sort of feeder league for its authors to be picked up by larger publishers.
“It feels like we’re competing with traditional publishers, but we actually want to serve them in a way,” said Casey Bankord, the company’s other co-founder. “We want to allow our authors to develop relationships with larger publishers to develop longer-form books.”
While an exciting part of the digital revolution, the ability to profitably publish short-form content as e-books hasn’t generated much profit — yet. The Kindle Singles program has sold about 3.5 million copies since March — a huge number of books, but at low price points, nearly all under $3, it doesn’t add up to much revenue. The Atavist, another short-form e-book company, recently expanded into content management technology to augment its modest e-books business.
Slimbooks has financial backing from an angel investor who is also providing technical support.