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Short Form Content: There's An App for That

New short form content initiatives seem to be sprouting up all around us.  You're probably familiar with Amazon's Kindle Singles program.  As I mentioned earlier this year, Singles is a smart move on Amazon's part but they're wrong to assume that "shorter" always equals "cheaper."

We're also doing a lot with short form content at O'Reilly.  Two examples are 21 Recipes for Mining Twitter and Writing Game Center Apps in iOS.   These products are available as both ebooks and print products.  The shorter length means they're easy to update quickly, an important attribute when you're publishing in the rapidly changing technology space.

One of my favorite magazines is also part of the short form content movement.  It's called The Week and if you're not familiar with it I encourage you to sign up now for a 4-issue trial subscription.  Most of the content in each issue is excerpts from some of the best news and editorials from other publications.  Rather than subscribe to all these other magazines and newspapers (and deal with the political bias each one of them offers!) I just get excerpts of the best of the best from The Week.

Perhaps you're not comfortable with someone else deciding which articles are the most important ones.  I too was skeptical at first but I've found The Week is a great, fast way for me to absorb a lot more news and opinion than I could before.

If you don't trust humans to serve as a content filter you'll probably never let your iPhone do it for you.  That's right.  There's now a "text summarizer and simplifier" app for your iPhone and it's called TrimIt.  I'm always interested in finding ways to consume more content so I couldn't resist trying TrimIt out.  I ran a few of my blog posts through it and while the results were shorter I'm not convinced all the critical points were still intact.  Bottom line: TrimIt is an interesting concept but it's not ready for prime time.

What's your short form content strategy?  You may not be working on one but I'll bet some of your competitors are.  And if you're not doing anything in the short form area, are you really willing to let apps like TrimIt fill that void for you?



I'm not really sure I like this app approach to e-books. Virtually every e-reader and tablet as the ability to read the international e-book standard ePub. EPub has Adobe DRM and has a small file size.

I published a few short form types of content but I used ePub as my e-book format. It's already hard enough to find apps in the app stores, I'd rather not see them cluttered up with hundreds of thousands of e-books disguised as apps.

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