Just to state that someone or a particular company has revolutionized an industry is a bold statement. To claim that Amazon brought digital reading to the people is an equally bold claim, which will no doubt bring out the protesters. When it comes to actual content creation, it’s a wholly different tale. Writing, especially, lends itself to so many different platforms. From the printed page to digital format isn’t a big leap at all.
Amazon Publishing introduced Kindle Serials, a digital facsimile of serialized novels, where customers pay once and receive several segments of an ongoing story. The Kindle Serials feature launched with eight series. Each is priced competitively at $1.99 per episode, including a re-release of Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens, who is credited with popularizing serialized novels. This is a good option for writers who wish for a steadier and quicker income than might be realized from publishing their work in lump sums. For customers, it means paying once to get a whole book delivered in parts. So far, there exist nine Kindle Serials.
From the printed page, as invented by Gutenberg in the Middle Ages, the format of the written word has seen many updates. While the writer is always the beginning, organic part of the process, it’s the particular delivery of written content that can enhance, translate, or even change the writer’s intended message by the time it gets to the reader. In the case of film, it’s obvious how a visual execution can benefit — or even detract from — a story.
In some cases, a whole story hasn’t even been written, which can make its presentation seem almost like watching a TV series — for better (if done well) or for worse (if disjointed from part to part). In the case that a novel doesn’t live up to its potential, readers can provide feedback. Amazon hopes this gives the genre a fresh and modern approach. Discontented readers can also stop buying future episodes.
From a storytelling perspective, it could mean more cliffhangers and more immediacy added to an unfolding tale. As a writer, I believe that this is certainly a great opportunity for newcomers. Pitching a plot, and consequently writing a couple of chapters, can be less daunting than wanting to write a whole novel before submitting it. I know how much effort completing a book requires. The demand for discipline is extreme. For his Kindle Serial, Downward-Facing Death, Neal Pollack wrote a 10,000 word draft of the first segment, and three months later, it was published. This is paradise for any writer. You can read Neal Pollack’s account of writing a Kindle Serial at Huffington Post.
Just like the Kindle did for reading, Kindle Serials could inspire again an appreciation for good stories. Digesting a novel in individual chapters can make it easier to follow the plot, and help remember characters better. A serialized novel also means that each chapter could be constructed more like an episode of a TV series.
The book industry is still going strong, despite the rise of electronic reading. Readers around the world still like the feeling of holding a book in their hands. This is something that no device on the market can simulate yet. Some future invention may well chance that, however, momentarily holding a book elicits a closer bond with the story. It’s almost like you’re holding the key to the story. If the ongoing success of blockbuster series like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings are any indication, physical books will, for a long time, still be important.
From a business perspective, an aspiring author needs to make a living, and Kindle Serials could be a viable springboard into a professional writing career. Today, a writer has many different ways to spread the word for the story he wants told, and the reader enjoys more choice for preferred formats as a result. Serialized e-books aren’t a new idea, but Amazon’s Kindle Serials’ pay-once buying process and automatic downloads succeed where similar efforts haven’t. It’s still a nice addition from a writer’s point-of-view. It will hardly revolutionize publishing, though.
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