About 8 years back Amazon started selling ebook serials in the Kindle Store. Dozens of titles were produced in the first few years before that section of the Kindle Store withered away, but now it is back under a new name and with a new purpose.
There’s been no formal announcement of the launch, but Amazon has recently added new pages to the KDP help section for something called Kindle Vella. The name is obviously a play on the word novella, and is described as a new opportunity to sell serial fiction.
We’re introducing a new storytelling option: Kindle Vella. With Kindle Vella, U.S. based authors can publish serialized stories, one short episode at a time. In the next few months, readers will be able to access Kindle Vella stories in the Kindle iOS app and on Amazon.com.
There is a video over on the KDP pages, but the bleeping thing would not stop auto-playing so I did not embed it here. It is worth watching because the video makes it clear that readers don’t buy episodes in a story; instead they buy some kind of funny money tokens and trade that for an episode in a story.
Authors will earn a 50% royalty on the price paid for the tokens, or at least that is the way this will work when Kindle Vella launches at some point in the future.
Update: Amazon launched a public-facing page for the Kindle Vella.
Serials are obviously not a new idea in fiction; they were quite common in the time of Charles Dickens, when (for economic reasons) it made more sense to first publish a book in parts and only later publish the book. In fact, digital serials already exist in several different forms. Stephen King quite famously published a serial novel in the early days of the internet, but even now there are any number of authors who write their stories serially, and distribute via the Kindle Store, Patreon, Wattpad, or the several mobile apps whose names escape me. (I do not know of a story being told serially via Patreon, but it occurs to me that that platform makes it easy to do so, so I’d bet there are at least a dozen authors doing so.)
And soon authors will have a new, albeit rather limited, option for selling serial stories.