Here’s another story about serialized fiction—though where Serial Box sees itself as bringing television storytelling methods to e-books, the people behind The Pigeonhole prefer to cast it as creating a global book club.
Co-founders Anna Jean Hughes and Jacob Cockcroft created The Pigeonhole to publish novels, non-fiction, and free public-domain books. They have published several collections of essays around a geographic theme—Letters from Africa, Letters from Berlin, and now Letters from Greece. Readers subscribe via micropayment in return for episodes that can be read on computers, e-readers, or mobile devices. They are encouraged to discuss these works with other readers or even the authors.
Anna Jean Hughes explains that mobile devices were one of their inspirations for publishing serials:
“People are now born with hand held devices, and it’s fascinating how it’s changing our viewpoint about content,” said Hughes.
“I’m not sure that content has been pinpointed enough yet, there are specific attention spans, but one thing is for sure: we absorb more content per day than other people absorbed in a life time.”
On Talking New Media, Jacob Cockcroft writes more about the idea behind the service. He sees it as an antidote to the constant digital distractions of modern life—taking hand-picked new books and content from traditional publishers and making it available in a serialized format that readers can easily consume without feeling overwhelmed. It also serves to pique readers’ interest:
The idea behind the serialization model is to build excitement, whilst also providing a structured framework for authors to build a community. Anna talks about the “anticipation” built through serialization, about “giving people something to look forward too, something to incorporate into the rhythm of their daily lives.” It is also vital in a world where traditional publishing works to increasingly pitiful marketing and publicity budgets. In this way, we offer not only exciting possibilities for authors and readers, but also a financially sustainable publishing model.
Maybe something like this is the real secret to competing with Amazon—don’t be just another e-book vendor, but do something different with them that you can’t find on Amazon. At least, you can’t find it on Amazon for now. It’s always possible that if serialized fiction takes off, Amazon might introduce its own serial format.