Over the years, James Patterson has published more than 150 books which have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide. Last year, his fans helped three dozen of his books reach the New York Times best-seller list. Now, Mr. Patterson is targeting an audience that he feels has great potential: those who have abandoned reading for television, movies, video games, and social media. The potential market is huge. Last fall, the Pew Research Center released a survey showing that 27 percent of American adults reported that they had not read a book in the past year.
In order to attract that audience, James Patterson will be starting a new line of short novels in a venture dubbed BookShots. These books will be shorter, so that they can be read in a single sitting, and cheaper, costing around $5 for each title. All of the titles will be novella length, shorter than 150 pages and be more plot driven to keep the reader’s interest. Mr. Patterson says that he will be writing some of the books himself, while co-authoring others and hand picking the rest.
The James Patterson BookShots offerings will include thrillers, science fiction, mysteries and romances. Right now, the plan is to release two to four books a month. Hachette Book Group, which publishes Mr. Patterson’s books in the United States through its Little, Brown imprint, is planning to publish 21 BookShots in 2016. The first two, “Cross Kill” by Mr. Patterson and “Zoo II,” a science-fiction thriller written by Mr. Patterson and Max DiLallo, are due out in June.
Jame Patterson is also aiming to make his short novels more widely available. BookShots will appear in Barnes & Noble, Amazon, big-box stores and independent bookstores at first, then expand to drugstores, grocery stores and other outlets. The plan is to get the books into store’s checkout lines, next to the magazines and chewing gum, where they could become an impulse purchase for the masses. The books will also be available in digital and audio versions.
Since many readers have already developed a taste for shorter digital works, BookShots stands a good chance of succeeding in its niche. Readers who might not want to invest their time in a 400-page novel would have options at hand nearly everyplace they’d go. Some of the most popular American literary classics are novella length, including “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.