TEDBooks and Kindle Singles: Spreading Ideas in a Closed System?

Yesterday, TED announced the launch of TEDBooks“an imprint of short nonfiction works designed for digital distribution”via Amazon’s new Kindle Singles channel.

All TEDBooks are less than 20,000 words each and are meant to reflect the TED ethos in ebook form: ideas worth sharing in an easily digestible format. I think this is a fantastic idea and a great addition to the TED lineup.

In my opinion TED is known for promoting openness and availability to all, though. That being said, I don’t understand why they’ve chosen to use the closed distribution channel that is Amazon’s Kindle device and apps. TED has more than enough reach to sell direct to the reader. So why aren’t they? Or why aren’t they selling through all retailers and keeping options open for the reader? Why have they chosen to go through a single retailer and significantly limit their international readers? Sure, Kindle might be huge in the US, but not internationally.

If these shorts were available direct from the TED website or through all retailers I would have been reading one last night, but I have a Kobo ereader and use apps other than the Kindle one on my phone. So that’s at least one lost sale.