The eBook industry has recently kept The Wall Street Journal in a state of openmouthed amazement. When Internet billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban published an eBook without the help of a traditional publisher, the Journal positively salivated over the potential revenue the social-media savvy Cuban could realize. And on Black Friday 2011, it reported, sold more than four times the number of Kindle e-readers that it had on the same day of 2010. There's no danger that the Kindle will turn into a Betamax.

We, too, have noticed that the readership for eBooks is expanding enormously and that the publishing economics can be very different from those of traditional books. One growth area is the "natural length" eBook: something longer than a longish magazine article, yet significantly shorter than the typical print book. Sometimes it is the full version of a magazine article, with all the good bits restored that editors trim out because of space constraints. Sometimes it is several articles, published at various times, brought together for greater effect. The format allows you, the reader, to go deeper and learn more than you could from a magazine article, without committing the time or money demanded by a full-length book.

Shorter books like these just don't make sense in traditional publishing. They need to be bulked up to a certain size—often padded with chapters that don't contribute much—just to make the economics of printing, shipping, distribution, and retail sales work.

With eBook publishing, that has changed. A "natural length" book can be inexpensively produced and inexpensively priced, without regard for costs of printing, paper, and shipping.

Christianity Today is pleased to launch a new series of natural length eBooks. We call them Christianity Today Essentials. You can purchase them through or at your favorite eBook supplier. Buying them won't break the bank—our first two titles are offered at a low introductory price.

About those two titles. The first is How to Pick a President. It wraps previous Christianity Today essays about the principles of politics around this issue's cover story to provide a really good evening's read when so much political talk leaves a bad taste behind. The second, Faith and the American Presidency, brings together rich but out-of-print material from our former sister publication Christian History & Biography. Many American presidents have let faith play a key role in their policy decisions, regardless of their personal beliefs and pieties.

We hope you enjoy these Essentials and many more to come.

Next month: The most effective (and least effective!) ways churches can fight global poverty, our 2011 Movie Awards, and a celebration of Francis Schaeffer's 100th birthday.

Related Elsewhere:

Check out CT's selection of eBooks at

Background for How to Pick a President can be found in this month's cover story, "The Cure for Election Madness."

Check back for more from our January issue.

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