Are TEDBooks a rip off?

About TEDBooks

The success of TEDTalks has demonstrated that millions of people around the world are hungry to absorb new ideas. Many of the talks create a desire to go deeper — but not everyone has the time to read an entire book on a subject. TEDBooks fill that gap. While a traditional book is at least 60,000 words, TEDBooks, at less than 20,000, allow someone to see an idea fleshed out in a satisfying way — but without having to devote a week of reading time to it.

The mass adoption of new e-book technologies like Kindle and iPad has changed the rules of the game. We suspect the traditional length of books has been dictated as much by the constraints of the physical medium of print as by what a modern reader actually wants. (Publishing wisdom is that 20,000 words in print feel too small to sell, so authors may be encouraged to write much more expansively, even if the idea itself doesn’t require it.) But just as iTunes allowed people to build new listening habits around individual music tracks, instead of albums, so the new reading technologies allow instant distribution of books of any length — facilitating new, more focused reading habits.

With more demands than ever on people’s time, we think many will welcome the chance to absorb a TEDBook on a single short plane flight or on a day’s commute.

Does this mean the dumbing down of reading? Actually, we suspect people reading TEDBooks will be trading up rather than down. They’ll be reading a short, compelling book instead of browsing a magazine or doing crossword puzzles. Our goal is to make ideas accessible in a way that matches modern attention spans.

Where to buy / How to view

TEDBooks are available from Amazon.com as Kindle Singles. They can be purchased for $2.99 each, and can be read on any device equipped with the Kindle app: iPad, Mac, PC, Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Windows 7 smartphones.

A great concept but, as one reviewer on Amazon points out, a standard sized Kindle book would cost $40 each at these price to page ratios.

Wouldn’t 99c be a more realistic/accessible price point?

  • The point here isn’t size or fairness, it’s economics. A CD single used to cost proportionally more than it would have done if it were just a percentage of the album. iTunes has changed that model by making ¢99 where the album of 10 tracks is ten times as much.At ¢99 it may also be seen as too small – laughable in fact to have any value – whereas we willingly spend $3 or more ($8) on a copy of Wired for one really interesting article.TED are probably working on the basis that if it’s worth having, it’s worth paying for and that if it’s too cheap people may not want it.It’s a shame that their same logic can’t go for the talks in Edinburgh and let me in for one talk for $3.