Literature Still Isn’t Broken If I Have Anything to Say About It
Serial Box is more than just a clever name—it’s a whole new thing (with a clever name) that makes reading ebooks more like watching TV. Which of course is the Holy Grail, so how’d they do it? Mostly in that their ebooks are written by a team, and you have to wait a week for new “episodes” to come out. Each episode takes about 42 minutes to read, which is how long TV shows are if you cut out the commercials.
Their own introductory commercial thing is fun. It has a soundtrack that’s fit for theatres, and there are definitely some knives and a guy reading on a bus:
I’m skeptical, but it seems like it’s made for fans of “genre” writing (I hate this term), and if there’s one thing I don’t understand, it’s how much those people love books. Horror and romance and all that, that’s where ebooks thrive (I Googled this for a source but then got powerful sad as I rummaged among the links).
So maybe Serial Box will work great. All you have to do is pay $1.59 per episode, read it, and then wait a week. Over the course of the, uh, “season” you’ll pay, like, $25 to read an ebook (depending on how many episodes there are). As someone who charges his girlfriend $2 every time she downloads Switched at Birth, I know how quickly that can add up.
And one of the cofounders is Molly Barton, formerly the Digital Director at Penguin Random House, so she’s probably figured it out, too.
Isn’t it weird how TV programming is moving toward releasing all the episodes at once, while book people are going the other way? What’s the matter with book people? Give the customer what they want, which I guess is more restrictions on how they can get what they want.
Today I got a newsletter from Melville House. They’re releasing the “must have literary accessory of the season” which is a black ballcap that says “Make publishing great again!” I mean, is Andre Schiffrin dead, or what?
I dunno, but get off my lawn.