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Monday, April 14, 2008

Reading for the Time Impaired

Not too long ago, I posted about the evolving way that literature is being consumed, and how that affects us as writers. All of the comments on that post, including a recent one that has me revisiting the topic, acknowledged that as a culture we seem to be moving towards consuming our entertainment in short bursts.

Well, apparently, we're not the only people who think so. Established about a year ago, DailyLit is a website that allows subscribers to receive daily portions of books in their e-mail inbox or RSS. In this way, reading some of those classic monstrosities that have always been intimidating (I'm looking at you War and Peace) suddenly seem not so scary.

Classic works in the public domain are offered free of charge, but now with over 100,000 users (Newsweek), DailyLit is charging for new releases offered in the same way. Unlike what we were talking about, the novel is written in the usual format, only it's parceled for consumption. Think how successful a novel could be if it were specifically written to be consumed at this pace, with hanging moments and well planned drama. See, we're wrapping back around to Charles Dickens, and the serial.

This idea appeals to me in some sense. I'm at my desk/computer for 80% of my day it seems, so why not have that bit available to read while I'm taking a break from my work, or waiting for something to upload? On the other hand, I'm still not sold on reading without having that book in my hand, or being able to curl up with it in bed.

So, in order to form an educated opinion on the site, I will be selecting a free classic to subscribe to, and I will see how I like the service. At the moment, I'm choosing between Moby Dick (260 parts) and A Tale of Two Cities (170 parts), both classics that I have not read.

As always, I will keep you updated with my progress. I hope if any of you decide to try it out, you'll let me know how it goes.


Last Knight said...

Actually, the serial is experiencing something of a minor revival; Stephen King's novel "Cell" was released exclusively online at first, and I believe "From A Buick 8" was, as well.

Stephanie said...

Stephen King definitely leads the charge on the return to serial writing. Never having experienced reading a book that way, it'll be interesting to see what the experience is like for me.

And stop taunting me with your semicolon usage. Don't think I don't know what you're doing.

Last Knight said...

Would you believe me if I said that it was completely unintentional and unthinking? :)

I see a lot of RDI stories (*coughcoughaddictioncoughcough*) as serials; I deliberately used cliffhangers in BotC to keep people interested in the story, and to keep myself interested in writing.