The Future of the Webserial May Not Be on the Web (Updated x2)

  • Posted on: 4 July 2011
  • By: MeiLin

Cross-posted at WebLit.Us

Update: You can now subscribe to the site on Kindle. UK people who found they couldn't subscribe at that link, here's the link for you. I'll keep webserial folks posted on results here and at WebLit.Us.

A funny thing has happened: I've stopped reading webserials.

I KNOW, RIGHT??

You see, I got a Kindle, and I realize now that I hate reading on the web. Hate. It. But I like serialized fiction. And I'm hearing from readers of my own work that they're in the same position now that they have ereaders; they've stopped reading on the web. I'm thinking that ereaders have the serious potential of taking away our online audiences.

So now I have a dilemma as both a reader and a writer. What to do? I could do what a lot of traditionally published writers, agents, editors and publishers do and rage against those horrible ereaders. Or I could be smart and go with it. I choose smart.

As a writer I'm going to start publishing my feed on Kindle. Or try to; there are hoops I have to jump through.

As a reader, I'm going to start asking writers to do the same--once I test the waters. There's no charge--no downside--and a potential revenue upside. It pushes content to the Kindle, and any advertising eyeballs lost may be balanced by subscriptions.

I'm also going to see if there are other blog-to-ereader apps out there that will work on, say, Nooks. iPhones and Droid devices have Kindle readers already so I'm not worried about them.

So what do you think? Do you have an ereader? Would you prefer to have this site on your ereader than your web browser? Note I'm not asking you whether you'd pay for it, just whether you'd prefer it; I'm thinking that this might be a way of reaching out to readers I don't have yet.

And if you're a fellow serialist, have you tried this? What's been your experience?

Comments

Gabriel Gadfly's picture

I'm considering doing this with my poetry feed. Either that, or releasing periodic ebooks of the poems on my site.

Sharon T. Rose's picture

I think that's a great idea, and I am quite willing to help out in any way I can. Please feel free to use my stories as test material, as well.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Amazon PAYS bloggers for their subscribers. I'm not going to take money for your work. Smile

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

I would choose both. Simply because as of right now, I do not own an e-reader of any sort. Aaron read something the other day that leads to the belief that Amazon, at least, will be giving away their e-readers by November. If that happens, I will be getting one. Or two, so we both have one. I have been AGAINST e-readers simply because I prefer holding a book...but I'm thinking now that an e-reader would make it easier to read with the child AND he can't pull the pages out. (I'm hoping he doesn't anyways, but my godson did so I'm just trying to accept that it might happen.)

I think it would be good for your subscriptions. People can read it wherever they want...and as far as I know, there is no "history" of things you've read, so those who don't want certain members of their family to know what kinds of things they are reading, they can. For example, I do not want my father to know - there are things he just doesn't need access to! - and thus I cannot read this while I am at his place. He reads over my shoulder and drives me batty. With an e-reader, though, I'm just "reading a book". Smile

All that being said, I would hate to lose the ability to read here at the same time. What if I *don't* get an e-reader any time soon? If you put it on the Kindle, will you still publish here or am I going to lose access? There are those who would possibly start reading here, get hooked, and finish reading on the e-reader. Just my rambly thoughts on the matter.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

The content would/will continue to be available both on the Kindle/other readers and the website.

The Kindle/e-ink experience is extremely book-like. You HAVE to have an outside light source and that's what makes the difference. I vastly prefer my Kindle to paper books and computers alike. While I will never completely abandon paper books, my consumption of them has already dropped dramatically; if it's not available electronically and is not likely something I'll cherish, I don't want it in paper cluttering up my house.

There are exceptions; I have a complete set of Harvard Classics, even though they're all available free on Gutenberg, for instance, and I still want a hardbound set of my beloved Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books (I have the paperbacks). But the average SF/fantasy paperback? I'll only read it once and then I'll want it gone. With Kindle, not a problem, and if it turns out there's a book I really really love on Kindle I can always buy it in paper. (Case in point: Susannah Clarke's tour de force "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell," which is on my hardbound wish list. I have it in audiobook now.)

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

Yesterday, when Aaron was telling me about the Kindle, I pointed out that I LIKE having books. We are running out of room for them, though, at the rate that I buy and devour them. He suggested that if we get the Kindle, we can purchase ones we know we want in our hands...and for the rest, just do the e-reader. It will be less costly to get books, which means I might be able to do it more often without feeling like I'm screwing our budget up. I have a friend who is converting ALL her books to e-reader format and then giving away her books - theoretically to me, but again, we're running out of room. We just designated one room as a library and it already doesn't cut it! Once the child starts getting books...we're going to be in big trouble.

Wraith's picture

Petitioner

Where did Aaron read about Amazon giving away the Kindle. I've actually been contemplating picking one up, but I can wait a couple of months if it'll save me $100.

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2011/02/free_kindle_thi.php

Nothing concrete, but a few theories that sound promising. It's a matter of "wait and see" for the most part. *I* think it's a brilliant idea. If they give out a free Kindle, they'll probably sell more books, which is more money in their pocket. IMO, of course.

Aaron says this isn't the article he read originally, but it's very close to it.

Wraith's picture

Petitioner

That was an interesting read.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I've gotten things in progress at Kindle. The big drawback: Amazon sets the price, not me. So there may be some content adjustment once they get back to me with that. I don't want the Kindle subscribers to get as much as the patrons do for less money.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

Don't have an e-reader, don't really plan on getting one. I can c&p updates to email to myself to read on break at work for sites that are behind the firewall. Most of the books I've read reciently, that were not online, were audio books from the library that I listened to during my 2 hour daily commute.

rho's picture

My current preferences for reading are kindle > paper > web. I hate reading stuff on the web, and always have. I've lost count of the number of times I've had web fiction recommended to me, but never got around to reading it simply because of the format. So anything that lets me read in my preferred format sounds like a marvellous idea to me.

april.raines's picture

Petitioner

This is a hard one for me. On the one hand - I completely agree with the "I hate reading on a computer screen" sentiment. I have finally broken down and bought an ereader in order to have a more pleasant way to read yours, and other web-peeps, works.

On the other hand - I really don't like what I know of how the 'bookstores' are handling e-books. DRM springs to mind. I haven't bought a Kindle, Nook, or Kobo (Canadian one, I think), I've bought a non-proprietary e-reader. And I plan to buy my ebooks as pdfs as much as I can, and from the weblit authors themselves, not through the bookstores (except perhaps Lulu or similar??). I would be hesitant to buy something from Amazon, if they even let me - they have weird international rules for some stuff.

So, short version, I'd love to read your webserial on my ereader, but I don't really want to buy it from Amazon.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

None of my books are DRM'ed. That's entirely up to the publisher, and since I'm the publisher I say no.

I sell my books direct for people hesitant to deal with Amazon/B&N/etc. That's why you get four formats in one purchase. There's also Smashwords, which lets authors control DRM, and offers a whole bunch of formats. No Ebil Overlord stuff, either; Mark Coker's a pretty stand-up guy, and as far as I know Smashwords doesn't care where you are.

So you'll still be able to buy my stuff in collections on Smashwords and from me direct if nothing else. This just gives me yet another distribution channel.

okwari's picture

I might be mistaken, but you could sell your Kindle versions here as well. Calibre allows you to convert ebooks, including formats that are for the Kindle.

And Anke Wehner beat me to the Calibre reference! Biggrin

MeiLin's picture

Most High

When you buy an ebook direct from me you get it in LRF, Mobi, EPub and PDF formats.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... I still prefer reading on the web, reserving the e-reader for things like business trips where weight and space are at a premium, and where taking one e-reader stuffed full of e-books is therefor preferable to taking a case full of paperbacks.

Pedes's picture

Postulant

Hmm, I won't be getting an e-reader for a long time (with availability and prices of them here...) Also I am a hardcore webcomic reader so I really don't mind reading on the web.

While I am reading a couple of books on my android phone I'm not really a big fan of it...
I might consider it as a secondary option to read while commuting but I doubt I would CHOOSE it to be my primary reading option here.

As for e-reader users who are not reading this yet I think it might be a good idea, though.

Anke Wehner's picture

One thing I'd look into are Calibre "recipes". Calibre seems to be the most popular software for people to manage their ebook collections if they don't rely on some proprietary software, and it includes a function to fetch RSS feeds and turn them into epub files or other formats. It should be possible to adjust that so it includes the content you like, and I know it's possible to share it (involves the person who wants to follow the feed downloading a file once), but I haven't looked into it in detail yet.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I love Calibre and use it myself, but not for blogs. At least, not so far. It's not a push-button solution yet, so I don't see Kindle users as likely to take that option over an easy Kindle subscription.

That's not to say I'm against people using Calibre; it's no different than using any RSS aggregator in that regard.

Anke Wehner's picture

I meant in addition to Kindle subscription. For people who do not have a Kindle, or device that can run a Kindle app, but any ereader that is not a Kindle.

I decided against a Kindle in part because Amazon's attempts to monopolise the ebook market put me off, but unfortunately they seem to work.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I get that, should have been more clear. Smile

okwari's picture

I had a request from someone who had read my fanfiction if I could make a downloadable copy. That was in 2008?

For digital novelists, particularly those writing series, perhaps it is a way to give readers more choice. Maybe it'd be a little easier, as sometimes what you've formatted one way in your processor, doesn't always come out the same way once it's been posted.

Did I make much sense? I think I need a coffee.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Go have a coffee anyway. Smile

I'm about making it easier to get my stuff, and easier to give me money. If putting it up as a Kindle blog does that, I'm willing to try it.

Kreyopresny's picture

Petitioner

Didn't read the other comments, but my opinion is this:
LOVE reading on the Kindle as opposed to on my computer, but I HATE it for reading web serials since the internet set up is so slow. However, if you were a published author I could subscribe to, that would take all the nuisance out of it. I say go for it!

MeiLin's picture
Cheez-It's picture

MeiLin wrote:
Right here!

Well, unless you're Canadian... which says 'This title is not available for customers from: Canada."

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I would offer it to everyone everywhere but sadly that's not available right now. Sad I would suggest Calibre as a poster above mentioned.

Amy's picture

Supplicant

While I can see how this would be good for you. I don't have an e-reader, nor am I likely to get one in the near future. I also do not have a high speed internet connection for downloading content to an e-reader even if I had one.

So if you don't keep this particular format as well, then I will lose a favorite part of my every week.

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

I had the same concern. She replied to me with "The content would/will continue to be available both on the Kindle/other readers and the website."

So, those of us who do not yet have e-readers will not lose our access to the History, but those who do will have it in both places. Biggrin

Amy's picture

Supplicant

Somehow I managed to miss her reply to you.

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