Monday, April 8, 2013

Former MPA executive launches 'Thin Reads' – the first website dedicated to news and reviews of e-book singles

The e-book singles format has been a rapidly growing new format, and now it has a website dedicated to monitoring its growth, reviewing content and offering news, interviews and profiles of authors. Thin Reads is the work of the MPA's former head of communications, Howard Polskin, who will act as CEO and editor-in-chief of the new website.

"This is a new form of content, there is no question about," Polskin told me this afternoon. "It's something that is longer than a magazine article and shorter than a book. I call it eBook singles."

Thin Reads also has its own rapidly growing database of more than 700 e-book singles available dating back to 2010, according to the website's launch announcement. The database includes title, publication date, publisher, author, description, length, and retail platform, and tracks e-book singles available on, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iBookstore.

"Tt's clear that because of mobile devices, the proliferation of mobile devices – like iPhones, smartphones, tablets – that consumer want to buy and access more types of content and eBooks singles are the perfect form of content for a mobile, on-the-go consumer," said Polskin.

Polskin started to get the idea to launch Thin Reads a little over a year ago while attending an MPA conference.

Howard Polskin
"I was in San Francisco meeting with a lot of digital companies for the magazine industry's annual conference and someone said you've got to meet this guy John Tayman who founded this company Byliner devoted to eBook singles. So met him at the Fairmont Hotel and he told me all about this new form of content, because I was thinking I was going to have a panel on this, and thought it was something that magazine publishers might be interested in – it's both a threat and an opportunity for magazines," Polskin said.

"So right before getting on the flight to go home I downloaded a bunch of eBook singles on my Kindle and I was hooked. When I got off the plane I wanted for read more things. So who is telling me what's good, what's a good book?"

"When I left MPA in December it was almost at the exact same time that The New York Times came out with the eBook singles division with their first effort called Snow Fall by John Branch. So I said 'wow, this is the moment in time."

The Thin Reads' database lists more than 700 e-book singles currently on the market and is updated as soon as new e-book singles are released. Among the findings of the database, according to Thin Reads:
  • 54% of all e-book singles available in the database are listed as Original, which means they were created especially as short works of non-fiction or fiction intended to be read on an electronic platform for its original release.
  • 12% of all e-book singles available in the database are listed as Encore, which means they were originally published or presented previously in another format. 2% of all e-book singles in the database are listed as Encore+, which means that new or updated content was added to a story that was previously published.
  • 30% of all e-book singles in the database have not yet been categorized because the information was not available.
  • 31% of e-book singles in the database are fiction. 69% are non-fiction. Narrative non-fiction accounted for 20% of all e-book singles in the database.
  • More than 150 publishers are releasing content to the e-book single market, according to the findings of the Thin Reads database. Publishers include: The New York Times Company, Penguin, ProPublica, Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Byliner, The Atavist, HarperCollins, American Express Publishing, GQ Magazine, National Geographic Books and TED Conferences.
  • Byliner, Penguin and New Word City are among the companies that have published the most e-book singles, with more than 40 titles each.
Polskin said that the site will soon add video and other types of content as it developers over the next year.

Polskin spent eight years at the MPA where he was involved in implementing the organization's name change to MPA--the Association of Magazine Media. Prior to joining the MPA Polskin was V.P., Corporate Communications at Sony, and before that spent over five years as a veep at CNN.