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Klosterman's essays, e-piece by e-piece

September 15, 2010 |  8:13 am

Klosterman_2006Chuck Klosterman's essays will be sold individually and packaged by theme as ebooks, his publisher Scribner announced. The works go on sale today.

Individual essays by Klosterman are priced at 99 cents each, just as individual songs once were on iTunes -- lately, I find all the songs I want cost $1.29, which might mean essays have room to rise. Anyway, the idea is to offer, at a tiny price, a single unit for multiple re-listenings -- or in this case, re-readings.

All of these essays have been available elsewhere -- many were first published in magazines and later appeared in Klosterman's collections "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs," "Eating the Dinosaur," "Chuck Klosterman IV" and "Fargo Rock City."

Can Klosterman, with his high name recognition and strong opinions, lure readers to purchase older material for a modest price? Will well-loved essays sell better than those that are less known?

The essay collections are already available as ebooks, but now Scribner has also parceled them out and repackaged them by theme. Typically, essay collections wind up being chronological, but these sets -- 10 to 14 essays for $7.99 -- are grouped by topic. There is "Chuck Klosterman on Sports," "Chuck Klosterman on Media and Culture," "Chuck Klosterman on Rock" and so on.

Whether or not this proves to be a fruitful experiment, it's interesting to see a big publisher trying new models in ebooks -- or rather, e-essays. They're one of the literary products that can be sold piecemeal. Will they find receptive buyers? And if they do, how will we know -- will Amazon.com or Apple launch an e-essay bestseller list?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Chuck Klosterman in 2006. Credit: Frank Franklin II / Associated Press