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Kindle Vella may be a boom for serialized fiction, but authors beware

Amazon is trying to capitalize on the growing market for serialized fiction. The company today launched Kindle Vella, a mobile-first platform that lets readers buy stories in episodic chunks.

Despite the name, Kindle Vella is not available on Kindle devices, or Android, for that matter. Users currently have to access the platform on Amazon.com or the Kindle iOS app. It’s also initially only available in the US.

Background: Serialized fiction has been on the comeback trail in recent years.

The format helped built the careers of the likes of Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle, before declining after magazines shifted their focus away from fiction in the mid-20th century. The rise of digital publishing mediums has set the stage for a revival.

Kindle Vella is Amazon’s latest attempt to cash-in on the resurgence.

The service could also give self-published authors a means to make money from their stories while maintaining a second income.

What’s in it for readers?

Stories on the platform are published one short episode at a time, each ranging from 600 to 5,000 words.

The pricing model is a little bit complex.

The first three episodes of every story are free. You can then read more of them by purchasing bundles of “tokens.”

A single token is worth 100 words, but the cost of each token depends on how many you buy. Prices currently range from $1.99 for 200 tokens (four+ episodes) to $14.99 or 1,700 tokens (34+ episodes).