The pamphlet is back! A year ago, Amazon launched Kindle Singles. Designed to inhabit the territory between long magazine article and short book, the electronic-only format offers consumers less book for less money. With books, less can often be more.
The Economist’s Ryan Avent test drives the genre with The Gated City, a $1.99 attack on urban NIMBYism. Avent makes the case for the benefits of having more human beings living, working, and playing cheek by jowl.
Avent’s pro-density case is strong, and his policy prescriptions are generally astute. He advocates strengthening property rights for city dwellers, reducing the chokehold of neighborhood zoning boards, and promoting alternative urban centers if old ones can’t be saved.
Unfortunately, at an unusually long 90 pages, The Gated City fails to take advantage of the Kindle Singles form and winds up feeling draggy and repetitive. —Katherine Mangu-Ward