When I wrote about the serialized novel in 2015, I was focussing on printing books in chapter lots. I wasn’t thinking that there was going to be an app designed to deliver books to you in 20 minute segments. Mashable, via The Digital Reader, now tells us about Serial Reader. Once we get back to commuting, this sort of episode-based reading might well be attractive. If you have a twenty-minute journey maybe this service would fit the bill, though most people’s commutes are I suspect longer than that — and then you’ve got the journey home too. Still I guess I could see reading a book one way on the subway every morning without getting too impatient for the next installment.

Publishing books in installments has of course got a long history, but we keep discussing it as if it was a gift brought to us by the wonders of the internet. See for instance Wired‘s article about Serial Box, an audiobook equivalent, delivered via Book Business Magazine. Do we not remember that Dickens’ novels were published in weekly installments, as was The Turn of the Screw (in Colliers Weekly)? Just because we do things one way now, doesn’t mean we were unable to figure out other ways in the past.