How long are Kindle short reads? (Things to consider before writing short stories for the US Amazon store)


Did you know that the Kindle store has a separate section for short reads? If you upload a short story through your KDP dashboard that is under approximately 28,000 words in length, it will automatically get shelved in the appropriate short reads category in the US Kindle store.

Understanding the cutoff lengths for various categories can be helpful when deciding on a word count to aim for. Keep in mind that it's not only your story itself that counts when it comes to Kindle page counts. Your front and back matter will add length, so if you are aiming to get into a particular category, err on the shorter end of these word count estimates to make sure that you don't overshoot the page-length requirements for the category you want your story to qualify for.  

Short Reads are broken down by length (15-minute reads/90-minute reads/2-hour reads etc.). Each length category is further broken down by genre as follows (as of May 2021):

Here are the Kindle Store Short Reads Length Categories (as of May 2021):

My word count estimates of these categories are calculated on the assumption that each Kindle page is 280 words. This is my own personal average as a writer of dialogue-heavy cozies. Your average will likely fall between 250 and 300 words per Kindle page. Only repeatedly uploading stories and working out your own "words-per-Kindle-page" will give you your own personalized average, but unless you have an extremely dense or extraordinarily sparse style, you should be within this range. 

15-Minute Reads: 1-11 Kindle pages or up to approximately 3,000 words. 

30-Minute Reads: 12-21 Kindle pages or approximately 3,000 to 6,000 words.

45-Minute Reads: 22-32 Kindle pages or approximately 6,000 to 9,000 words.

1-Hour Reads: 33-43 Kindle pages or approximately 9,000 to 12,000 words.

90-Minute Reads: 44-64 Kindle pages or approximately 12,000 to 18,000 words.

2-Hour Reads: 65-100 Kindle pages or approximately 18,000 to 28,000 words.

I have written nearly a dozen short cozies, but most have been novelette-length (around 12,000 words) or novellas (around 26,000 words).

I have not personally written a cozy that was shorter than 5,000 words. My 5kish story was a little Christmas mystery which you can see here

Many of the golden-age mystery writers were masters of the short story. Although it's become a somewhat neglected form, quite a few modern mystery authors write shorter stories to as much success as their novel-length mysteries. 

If you are new to writing cozies or mysteries (or short stories in general), I would attempt something on the longer end of the spectrum (a 1-hour read or longer) at first. Cramming all the expected elements of a cozy mystery into less is pretty challenging, and having 12,000 words or a little more to work with is going to be easier for most writers to pull off. If you are writing in another genre, you might start with something shorter than 12,000 words, but cozies are a special case with many moving parts within a framework that takes time to establish.  

If you are thinking about writing for the Kindle Short Reads categories, browse the best-sellers in the genre categories you are interested in. The shortest categories are the least competitive but also contain the largest proportion of poor quality stories as well as a glut of--how shall I put it?--stories catering to extremely specific tastes. 

Try not to be put off by stories that really ought to be in a category of their own (you'll see what I mean). Until Amazon decides to give "romances" that aren't really appropriate for the romance shelf (steamy or otherwise) their own category and does us all a favor (fans of these stories as well as their detractors), these "taste-specific" stories will be a fact of life in the short reads categories.

There is a bright side. If many of the stories in the category you are shelved in are an automatic "no" from the average reader, then your story with more mainstream appeal will stand out as an "at least click on the cover and read the blurb" option. Also, keep in mind that if you've utilized all ten of your available browse categories, your readers will have nine other ways to find your story.

You can browse the short reads section or find it yourself by going to

Want to know how to find the short reads category yourself? Click on "Best Sellers" on the far left side of the menu bar across the top of the home page, then scroll down the list on the far left side of the page until you come to "Kindle Store." Click on "Kindle Store," and then select "Kindle Short Reads" on the list on the far left-hand side of the page. 

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