Serialized books are a good way to beat the time crunch. We are all slaves to e-mail, so why not get our books that way too – a little bit at a time? DailyLit, a small company in Mamaroneck, New York, formed by husband and wife Albert Wenger and Susan Danziger, is doing just that – delivering serialized versions of about 500 public domain and copyrighted books in installments that can be read in under 5 minutes (or about 1,000 words). As an example, Dracula is e-mailed in 187 installments. When you browse the BookLit library, you can see the number of installments for each title. Readers control how frequently they want to receive installments, and, if they want to read more than one installment at a time, can use the “send the next installment immediately” feature.
Public domain books are free and copyrighted books carry a modest price. With copyrighted material, readers get the first few installments free, and if they do not want to continue, can stop the subscription. Most of the current offerings are free. Many of the book entries have a link back to Amazon for those readers who might wish to purchase the book. Subscribing is easy; an e-mail address. For a paid subscription you supply a credit card, or soon, can use your PayPal account. If you prefer to receive your installments via RSS, DailyLit will create a custom feed that you can use with your favorite feed reader or RSS enabled browser.
According to Publishers Weekly, the company has recently signed deals with several publishers, including Berlitz, Baen Books, Chronicle Books and E-Reads. All of theses will be revenue generating, according to Danziger. The company is trying to price these books at about $5 for all installments which would be comparable to a similar e-book price.
Two other services also provide subscription reads: Mobifusion and Moka. These deliver books to mobile devices. For example, Moka charges about $5.99 per month to receive a full book via SMS text installments on a cell phone. All of these services may represent a new reading experience for time pressured bibliophiles. They are also a potential new marketing vehicle for publishers. Using a subscription model with a “try before you buy” free sample feature, publishers can give readers a chance to see whether they want to purchase a book. It is doubtful that most of us would want to read an entire book on a small screen in tiny chunks. But, like a free sample at the bakery, a few installments might induce us to buy a print version of a book that looks interesting. In this sense it is one more extension of Amazon’s Search Inside the Book and Google Reader.