NetPages?

I came across this article earlier in the week about the future of books, series, small serials, and their distribution. Since the creation of eReaders, there are many ways to access literature aside from your local Barnes and Noble or used bookstore (s/o to Riverby!)

As of right now, these subscriptions through eReaders and apps on the more advanced eReaders/iPads are the way to receive literature for a flat monthly price. While it doesn’t look much like Netflix now, there is speculation that this is the direction it is heading. Now, a good majority of us have experienced Netflix, but for those of you who haven’t: it’s a monthly subscription to a database of movies with no limit on how many or how long you can watch. It even keeps track of where you are in a TV Series as you go. Also, the selection changes frequently. Similarly, there are other monthly subscriptions that give you access to music (Spotify, Pandora) or current TV (Hulu Plus).

Currently the eReader version of this monthly subscription fad is more like a magazine subscription. You choose what you want to subscribe to and it is automatically delivered to your tablet every day, or week, depending on the program you’ve used. Each snippet is about 10-15 minutes of reading per day, adding up to a book or two total per month. Unlike Netflix, there is no unlimited supply, and you won’t be finding the current hits on the list.

But what if this progresses into a larger scale subscription like Netflix has? What if we could pay monthly and have unlimited access to the billions of books that are out there? My guess is that the subscription would have to be expensive, and the library fairly limited but changing often, to keep the subscribers hooked. There would be a lot of criteria involved in deciding how to run such a thing, but in my opinion it sounds like the most awesome thing for avid readers.

  6 comments for “NetPages?

  1. kutoof
    March 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    This is such an interesting idea! To have books available to you electronically through a subscription like how movies and television are. You mention that Netflix has an unlimited supply but where in fact, it isn’t completely unlimited. With Netflix, you can be mailed to you DVDs of any selection but not all of it is available “on demand.” I wonder if Rooster were to make the option of sending an unlimited supply of books to your home, similar to Netflix, if that would work. This is also a great way to encourage people to read more. A lot of young adults tend to ‘binge’ watch television series, so maybe with Rooster, this will encourage people to binge read instead of wasting their days watching endless TV and movies. Although at the same time, is binge reading any better than binge watching?

  2. mstough
    March 24, 2014 at 10:41 am

    The only thing that I can think of that is similar to what you are suggesting is Audible, which is basically a service where you can download and listen to books for a monthly fee. While we may enjoy binge watching TV shows, because that’s not how it works if you watch the show on TV and have to wait each week for a new episode. However, the normal experience for books is the opposite: you have the entire story before you. If it was released in chunks, as in a couple chapters at a time, it work more like when you parent would read you a chapter from a book before bed and the chapter would end with a cliff hanger. That system might pull more people in and make big books like Harry Potter or Les Miserables seem easier to manage if it was delivered in chunks periodically.

  3. karmakona
    March 24, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Of course binge reading is much better than binge watching! While reading words on a page, your brain is much more active and engaged than it is while watching TV. (My biggest question is about the toll all this screen-gazing will take on our eyes.) This is a wonderful idea, to give people a vast selection of plenty of reading material. I cannot imagine how frustrating it would be to only receive 15 minutes worth of reading per day if I wanted more. It would slow down the process and interrupt a hooked reader in a good story.

    What I found most interesting about the article was the hesitation to engage with literature the way we engage with magazines. It says we know how to deliver books like magazines, to sell them like magazines, and to advertise towards smaller, specific groups of people. But something feels wrong about it for book enthusiasts. Our approach towards the different types of writing is beginning to shift and blend with one another. Just like every other type of entertainment, consumers will soak up the easy access of seemingly unlimited information.

    • mstough
      March 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Likewise, by treating a book as something other than a book, it will cause the reader to interact with it differently. It seems that steps are being made to experience books in untraditional ways. Suddenly, text on paper is not enough and not a worthwhile way to immerse yourself in something. I know a lot of the tablet versions of magazines can be more difficult to read, as they display things differently and you can’t read a page how you want to, and instead must look at it the prescribed order of the pieces given to you by the electronic formatting. And the more we are able to interact with a book off the page, the less we will be able to interact with it on the page. Books might just become a series of YouTube videos and audio readings with small paragraphs thrown in here or there. I fear that the introduction of technology to book reading will be what ultimately eliminates book reading in this traditional, text on page manner.

      • Grace Draper
        March 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm

        I think your fears for immersion into electronic based literature ar definitely valid, but certainly far into the future. eReaders have been out for 10 years (Sony had a basic one in 2004 that led to our fancy Kindles these days) and we still don’t even see all the popular or classic books available in electronic edition. I think that there could be a benefit to a subscription similar to Netflix that was literature based. While it is a scary thought that books may eventually turn into something like Youtube videos, there will always be a demand for whole literature, whether in book form or e-book form. I don’t think it would eliminate all complete writing altogether, but maybe it would put literature into the hands of those who don’t like reading as much as us English majors do. I know a far amount of people who prefer electronic devices for reading and read way more that i do. A literary Netflix would be similar to a public library, but without holds and overdue fees. It is a way to reach a wider audience and to put that into a library of sorts is possibly a great way to continue reaching those people.

  4. Robert
    March 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    To be honest, I would be more interested in a revival of fiction magazines, where you can subscribe and get, every month, a collection of short and serial fiction. Similar to what they do with magazines now, but available to e-Readers and such. I confess I don’t see the benefit to a service like the article describes, as I like to read at my own pace.

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