Kindle Vella sounds like a rather innovative project in a world where novels and other book formats are dominating much of the industry. Vella wants to give authors the option to publish short, interactive stories in a serialized format, created for mobile devices foremost. All mobile devices, you ask? No, in an unexplainable move, only iOS users get to fully enjoy this innovative new format, with Vella unavailable in the Kindle Android app.
As Amazon explains, Vella is part of its Kindle Direct Publishing program (KDP), which allows independent authors to publish their work for free, both digitally and in paperback. Vella stories consist of easily digestible chunks of 600 to 5,000 words, with the first three episodes available for free (if you've ever heard of the concept of "chapters," this episode-based format should feel familiar). In case you want to know how a story continues, you'll have to pay to unlock it by purchasing or acquiring tokens (microtransactions, yay!), which are available in bundles on Amazon.com and the iOS Kindle app — but not in the Android app.
- Tagging: Readers can use tags to browse for specific topics and genres to find stories.
- Following: Once a reader follows a Kindle Vella story, they’ll be notified every time a new episode is released.
- Thumbs Up: Readers can leave a Thumbs Up on every episode they like.
- Faves: Once a week, readers who have purchased Tokens will receive a Fave to award to the story they enjoyed most that week. Amazon will feature stories with the most Faves in the Kindle Vella store to help other readers discover popular stories.
- Author Notes: Authors can speak directly to their readers at the end of episodes to share story insights and behind-the-scenes content.
- Sharing: It’s easy for readers to share the Kindle Vella stories they love right from their phones through Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels or via email and text with friends.
Amazon first opened the format to authors three months ago, and now, there are already "tens of thousands of Kindle Vella episodes across dozens of genres and microgenres," said Kindle Vella product manager Virginia Milner. Included are tons of new work from bestselling authors, such as "Audrey Carlan’s witty romance The Marriage Auction, Hugh Howey’s memoir Death and Life, and C. G. Cooper’s gripping thriller Daring Hope."
For what it's worth, it looks like you'll be able to consume Vella stories on Android using your browser, so you're not fully locked out. But it's a shame that an international behemoth of a company like Amazon feels the need to save a few precious dollars by not committing to properly implementing a new experience on all relevant mobile platforms. It's not the only company to do this (remember Instagram, Snapchat, and Clubhouse all starting out as iOS-only apps?), but Kindle is so established at this point that this feels like needless shenanigans. It could also show that Amazon is not fully committed to the new format, which would be a shame for authors pouring their resources into Vella.
If you want to check out Kindle Vella for yourself, head to amazon.com/kindle-vella. For now, the format is only available in the US. And did we mention it's only accessible via browsers and the iOS Kindle app?