h a l f b a k e r y
Contrary to popular belief
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Book by e-mail
any book as an e-mail feuilleton with forward and reply functionality
Many people read their e-mail
and everywhere. I even do it with
Treo smartphone. When it comes to
reading a book it gets more difficult
for all kinds of reasons: when you
feel like reading you don't have the
book with you or you are always too
'busy' to find time for a book,
are too expensive, heavy, whatever.
Or at work it's accepted to read e-
mails (it's work) but not to take up a
book (it's escapism).
Some people also suffer from a
disorder that makes them read the
last pages of a book first.
The solution is to 'subscribe' to a
book. You receive a few pages by e-
mail. Once you read those, you send
an empty reply message and you
receive more. Again and again until
the last page. When you finished
reading it, you get the bill. You can
also choose to receive a free dead
tree copy of the book as a receipt, a
proof of purchase.
Like this you only pay for the books
you really appreciated, you have
to the end. You can expect that
people will want to pay out of
gratitude. Certainly when they get
something tangible for it in return.
If you don't pay the author asks by
e-mail why you didn't...
At the same time you can read a lot
of books, but each time, once it
uninteresting, you just leave it. Too
bad for the author, he should have
written a shorter or more
While reading, you can forward
of the book to friends and they can
reply to it and automatically
subscribe to the book also. But
their address is not known they will
receive the first pages first.
It is also a good copy-protection.
Why bother copying it if you can
receive it for free yourself? It takes
time also to 'copy' a book, first
collect all the e-mails and then
copy-paste them together. If you
automate it the server will protest if
you demand it all very fast. Just wait
a day or so (the author decides)
between each part. If you want to
read the whole thing non-stop, just
buy the book.
I am familiar with the concept of e-
books, but in practise they just take
up diskspace and I turn to my
mailreader first when I open my
or iBook and I compulsively deal
all unread mail before I start
reading documents without
I also know there are e-mail
feuilletons, but I want to apply this
just any book. A kind of extra
Amazon feature or something.
I would like to reply to the book
in my mailreader. As comments to
the author, myself in the future or
to another reader or a
group of readers (make a book->
usenet/listserv gateway). When I
know that I can reply to a book and
there are many people out there
whom I share that same
experience at the same time (same
pages even) there is a stronger
incentive to continue reading. Yes, I
would like to be able to read the
replies to a book back in Google
Groups in the future.
Or even just a mailinglist will do.
When you reply with an empty
message you get an e-mail with
new pages to read. When you
comment on what is written it is
redirected to a mailinglist with
other readers (or the author if you
choose to). Because you can read in
the subject-line which pages the
posting concerns you skip the
postings about pages you haven't
read yet for later. It also speeds up
your reading if you notice that
people you started off with progress
faster. If you save all the messages
you can always react on previous
In fact, I like this idea so much, I am
going to realise it for my next book
myself! Mail me if you want to
subscribe. Especially if you can read
Dutch, the English translation will
take a little longer.
One of many
"Each day well send you a 5-minute portion of a book." [DrCurry, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]
Companies against advertising
Advertising is bad. Companies that survive without it are good. [rrr, Oct 04 2004]
||Microwaved to an electric crisp. [markedfordeletion] widely available.
||No DrCurry, it's not done in the
way I see it. You can't get it for any
book you would like to try, there
is no e-mail discussionlist
connected to it with a discussion
between the readers per page.
Furthermore you can't start
reading when you feel like it, there
is a different book each week in
the example you cite.
Most important of all is that you
can't time it
by giving an ok with an empty
reply message but the whole book
into your mailbox in a week time.
Who cares if you leave it unread?
Nobody, and certainly not the
author, will know.
||Such a concept has the
same problems as the traditional
The only difference is that you
have a lot of unread e-mails
instead of one unread book.
||For out-of-copyright classics, one could bake this fairly easily, using the Project Gutenberg database as source material. For in-copyright current works, you'd have considerable issues of compensation to solve.
||One thing for sure... no matter how you bake this, it's not ever going to happen with the 'pay afterwards only if you liked it' business model.
||Because there's no incentive to build it otherwise.
||<rrr/>//there is a stronger incentive to continue reading.// //I like this idea so much, I am going to realise it for my next book myself//</rrr>
||I normally plow through a novel in a single 4 to 6 hour stint. I think receiving it as e-mail would be as disorienting as going on a date 5 minutes at a time over a two month period.
||Baen Books might be interested. They already have a lot of books online for free.
||I'm more like lurch though. Mostly read books in one or two goes. If I was busy though... preparing for exams or something, then only being able to read a bit every day could be pretty useful.
||I agree that for a novel it might
be ill suited, only when it
is already written as a feuilleton it
works well. Most good novels I
also read in a few sessions.
||I was more thinking about non-
fiction books, books that gain a lot
if you make some time to reflect
upon it and discuss the pages you
||it would stop me getting addicted and reading until 4am... assuming there was a delay before obtaining the next few pages
||Another interesting aspect of this is the possibility of emphasizing the poetic nature of the prose. Like a poem where the pauses might be as significant as the words. Key passages could be sent with endpoints that signify the author's intent for pause and reflection.
||Furthermore, each email can be sent with advertising (subtle of course) providing a more than adequate business model - even if the book is free.
||I really like this; As long as the e-mails are structured correctly, a great deal of suspense and wonder-ment can be added to stories. Like a mini-series or soap-opera (<cringe>) on tv.
[rrr] You can put me down for a copy of your English version.
||I think it's a brilliant idea. Whenever I'm too busy to read 'properly' I can just read a section each day at work with my email. Even if it had to have advertising (which maybe could stop after your first purchase) the extras such as discussion lists etc. would make it a really interesting way to read. Let me know when the English version is ready...
||Boooh! Very, very bad idea to add
advertising. Over my dead body.
Advertising (pay to get attention)
corrupts and is not correct, it is
indiscrète, rude, whatever.
||Context: I write this from a friend's
apartment in Paris, in Le Marais
(the 4th), just before attending a
marriage from a befriended
science-journalist with someone
from nobility. The perfect anti-
Advertising is considered
something bad, dirty, banal,
||But I would not be surprised if
others will implement this with
advertising. Although it will be
easier than in Dickens' time to
filter the advertising out. That is
what my book will be about -
amongst other things- how the
digital technology and the
empowerment for the user it
brings along is the enemy of
advertising. Possibly in favor of
sponsoring, product placement,
the End of Privacy and so on,
but more about that some other
||Unabubba, I would encourage
to forward the e-mails. It is
version of word-of-mouth. The
*earn* it with his work. He can't
*bribe* the reader with money to
good things about the product.
would be traditional advertising.
Instead the reader voluntarily
forwards it to please his friends
with something he wants to share
||When someone receives a
page by e-mail he just replies to it
on the listservers' address
and he is instantly subscribed to
book. Another reader won, the
best way to
expand the readership.
||If I will distribute my book in this
will not advertise it, but will send
one copy to silverstormer and
Taika. It will be
up to them to forward it if they
what they read. If that forwarded
e-mail is then send to the
listserver I can also keep track on
which pages the readers were
convinced to share the book with
||About reading from the screen. I
the same trouble with reading a
webpage from a CRT. With a
LCD screen (I always read from my
iBook or Treo screen) I have this
problem significantly less. It feels
more like reading from a book
does with a big screen in front of
more personal or something. And
LCD screen is less tiresome. Also
when I am reading e-mail, with the
reply-button always near, I am
involved than with webpages
hyperlink _away_ from the text is
||Yes TwoSheds, in Dickens' time
there would have been a reason to
pass on the copy. In this case
everyone can get the same directly
from the author. Paying happens
afterwards, like shareware.
Although it can also be done on
beforehand or after an x-number
||[rrr]: Advertising is very natural. Ever see a peacock?
||[DrCurry], I don't think this should be mfd. I've certainly never heard of or seen anything like it.