Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced the launch of Kindle Singles digital books that are longer than a magazine article but shorter than a typical book. Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea - well researched, well argued and well illustrated - to be expressed at its natural length.

Kindle Singles allows writers to write a piece that doesn't need to be cut for a magazine article or expanded for a book.

Priced between $0.99 and $4.99, Amazon says the first set of Kindle Singles include original reporting, essays, memoirs and fiction.

Amazon said it intends to frequently launch many more Kindle Singles over time.

Ideas and the words to deliver them should be crafted to their natural length, not to an artificial marketing length that justifies a particular price or a certain format, said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content. With Kindle Singles, we're reaching out to publishers and accomplished writers and we're excited to see what they create.

Amazon said the first set of Singles was selected by its editorial team, and includes works by Rich Cohen, Darin Strauss, Ian Ayres, and the first-ever books published by TED.

Kindle customers can purchase these books and read them on the $139 third-generation Kindle device with new high-contrast Pearl e-Ink, on iPads, iPod touches, iPhones, Macs, PCs, BlackBerrys, Windows Phones and Android-based devices.

We think customers will be riveted by these stories that can take them to a Swedish bank heist or to the Mexican border town of Juarez, or to consider a new way to think about happiness, says Grandinetti.

The first set of Kindle Singles includes:

* Lifted by Evan Ratliff (34 pages, $1.99): The thieves had a handpicked crew, a stolen helicopter, a cache of explosives, and a plan to rob a $150 million cash repository. The Stockholm police had a tip-off. Wired and New Yorker writer Evan Ratliff recounts the inside story of an audacious 2009 bank heist, and the race to solve it. This is an inaugural title from publisher The Atavist.

* The Happiness Manifesto by Nic Marks (40 pages, $2.99): Modern research proves the ancient wisdom that money can't buy you happiness. But then why do our governments see their main task as simply growing GDP? Marks, founder of the London-based Centre for Well-Being, sets out an ingenious new way of defining national goals--and in the process reveals five ways people can nurture their own happiness. One of the inaugural TEDBooks.

* Piano Demon by Brendan I. Koerner (37 pages, $1.99): At age six, Teddy Weatherford was working in a Virginia coal mine. Two decades later, he was the jazz king of Asia. Koerner, a Wired contributing editor and author of Now The Hell Will Start, tells how a piano legend in a sharkskin suit lived the American Dream by leaving it behind.

* Leaving Home by Jodi Picoult (43 pages, $2.99): The deep pains and powerful pleasures of parenting: those are the extremes explored here by the extraordinary novelist Jodi Picoult. In three short pieces that display her wide emotional range, Picoult weaves together stories of love and loss with heartbreaking simplicity.

* The Dead Women of Juarez by Robert Andrew Powell (31 pages, $1.99): It sounded like one of the great murder mysteries of our time: who was killing the women of Juarez? Journalist Robert Andrew Powell went to the Mexican border town to investigate, and separates fact from myth in a saga that eerily echoes the plot of Roberto Bolaño's epic novel 2666.

* Pakistan and the Mumbai Attacks by Sebastian Rotella/ProPublica (38 pages, $.99): The U.S. investigation of the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai provides a detailed picture of the ties between Pakistan's intelligence service and a leading militant group. The latest reporting from ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.