Rooster: a solution in search of a problem

roosterSusan announced Rooster here last week, and I’ve been using the service for the two-week trial period. My title probably tips you off to my opinion.

A quick recap. Rooster is an iPhone app that will send short, timed installments to readers who are on the go. Each month there are two stories available, and users select which one they want pushed to them. Yes, you can finish one story and then move on to the next.

I’m just not convinced it’s worth $4.99 a month for a service which pushes out short pieces of a story. I will admit that I’m probably not their target audience, and that colors my thoughts.

I don’t have a problem remember to read throughout the day. So sending reminders to me is of no value. I’m a voracious reader, so $4.99 a month for two books, which I may or may not like, is not a compelling proposition. My iPhone is my last choice of reader, so the current single-platform element of the service is off-putting. (Did anyone else notice the image on their homepage of someone reading on what I think is an iPad Mini?)

Incidentally, I wasn’t crazy about either choice this month. Melville is not a writer I enjoy so I skipped Billy Budd, and I couldn’t get into the other story, I Was Here (not yet on sale). It appears as if they are appealing to the literary fiction crowd, and I’m not one of those. I did read that they are considering adding genre fiction, which is probably a good move.

The app is a functional reader. There are two choices of font, three themes and a font size slider that should meet anyone’s needs. Nothing fancy, but then this is never going to be anyone’s main reading app.

What about the pushing of bite-sized content? I found it distracted me from reading because I was too aware of the limit. Yes, you can download the next installment when you finish the current one, but it’s not the same as getting immersed in a book. Again, the service isn’t aimed at immersion, and I get that, but it distracted me. I keep a short story anthology on my reader if I need something quick to read on the go, and that approach works better for me.

Oh, and it’s set up to keep you on one book at a time. To switch, you have to “suspend” the other title. It’s easy enough to switch, but there are a couple of extra steps involved.

Obviously, it’s not for me. Nor do I think it’s a good value. For $8.99 or $9.95, you can subscribe to Scribd or Oyster and have access to a much larger library. With Rooster, if you don’t like either month’s offering, you’re stuck. $4.99 a month is too much to be stuck with duds.

4 Comments on Rooster: a solution in search of a problem

  1. One more point: the barriers to entry for selling this kind of app are minuscule, so even if Rooster takes off we can expect to see it quickly undermined by others offering the same service at a lower price. If it’s viable at all, then eventually the charges will come down to reflect the real costs of automatically dispatching chunks of public domain text — which must be pretty close to zero. Either way, it doesn’t look to me as if Rooster has a future in its present form.

  2. @Jon, excellent point. Although I believe only one of the books each month is public domain. I Was Here, the other book is not yet released. It’ll be commercially available on April 1. So it’s not public domain. They paid something for it.

  3. Called it:

    And one of the books they end out each month is a public domain title? Why the heck would I pay $5 for that service? That is a trivial programming exercise.

  4. @Nate, yes, you did. Your comment about not needing Game of Thrones spoon fed to you was spot on. :)

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