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A Click And 49 Cents Buys You a Book

Online retailer Amazon.com is adding another chapter to its canon of digital content with downloads of short stories from popular and best-selling authors.

Called Amazon Shorts, the offering consists of literary works ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 words, each costing 49 cents.

The move is another effort to bolster Amazon's growing digital content strategy, which the company expects will drive new customers to the Web site. The company also announced today that it will offer an online photo service through Shutterfly.

Steve Kessel, Amazon.com's vice president of Digital Media, said the move will benefit both readers and authors, allowing customers to view works without having to invest an exorbitant amount of time and money. For the authors, the electronic downloads may provide a useful outlet to promote their works.

It is not the first time Amazon has attempted to tap the e-book market. In 2000 Amazon offered free copies of Stephen King's e-book horror novel "Riding The Bullet."

The idea, much the same as with King experiment, is to allow greater access to literary work, at lower or no costs. Amazon also said readers can buy updates to books they already own or to read alternative endings to favorite stories.

Daniel Wallace, author of the book "Big Fish," said in a statement: "Publishers have always had a hard time selling and marketing the single, short-form work -- the novella, for instance, or the novelette, or its even more diminutive cousin, the novelini -- and these days it's even harder. Amazon.com has created a new way for authors to get that kind of work out there, which is incredibly exciting."

Amazon said in order to preserve a "frictionless" viewing experience, no digital rights management software is needed to download and read Amazon Shorts.

"It's my hope that their Shorts program brings a renewed interest to the genre, as well as the opportunity for us to keep in touch with our readers in a really direct, fun way between books," Wallace said.

"Amazon Shorts will help authors find new readers and help readers find and discover authors they'll love," Kessel said in a statement. "We hope that by making short-form literature widely and easily available, Amazon.com can help to fuel a revival of this kind of work."