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Book by e-mail

any book as an e-mail feuilleton with forward and reply functionality
  [vote for,

Many people read their e-mail always and everywhere. I even do it with my 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, books 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 read 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 gets too uninteresting, you just leave it. Too bad for the author, he should have written a shorter or more interesting book instead!

While reading, you can forward parts of the book to friends and they can reply to it and automatically subscribe to the book also. But since 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 Treo or iBook and I compulsively deal with all unread mail before I start reading documents without 'interactivity'.

I also know there are e-mail feuilletons, but I want to apply this to just any book. A kind of extra Amazon feature or something.

I would like to reply to the book also 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 with whom I share that same bookreading 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 pages.

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.

rrr, Jul 19 2003

One of many http://www.chaptera...m/library/chandler/
"Each day we’ll send you a 5-minute portion of a book." [DrCurry, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Companies against advertising http://www.halfbake...ainst_20advertising
Advertising is bad. Companies that survive without it are good. [rrr, Oct 04 2004]


thumbwax, Jul 19 2003

       Right up my Street
gnomethang, Jul 19 2003

       Microwaved to an electric crisp. [marked–for–deletion] widely available.
DrCurry, Jul 19 2003

       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 is pumped 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 book interface. The only difference is that you have a lot of unread e-mails instead of one unread book.
rrr, Jul 19 2003

       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.
krelnik, Jul 19 2003

       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.
waugsqueke, Jul 19 2003

       Because there's no incentive to build it otherwise.
waugsqueke, Jul 19 2003

       <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>
thumbwax, Jul 19 2003

       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.
lurch, Jul 20 2003

       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.
RobertKidney, Jul 20 2003

       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 just read.
rrr, Jul 22 2003

       it would stop me getting addicted and reading until 4am... assuming there was a delay before obtaining the next few pages
drainfood, Jul 22 2003

       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.
dweeb, Jul 22 2003

       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.
silverstormer, Jul 22 2003

       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...
Taika, Jul 24 2003

       Boooh! Very, very bad idea to add advertising. Over my dead body. Advertising (pay to get attention) corrupts and is not correct, it is inhuman, impolite, 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 environment. Advertising is considered something bad, dirty, banal, American.   

       But I would not be surprised if others will implement this with advertising. Although it will be much 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 time elsewhere.   

       Unabubba, I would encourage people to forward the e-mails. It is today's version of word-of-mouth. The author should *earn* it with his work. He can't *bribe* the reader with money to say good things about the product. That would be traditional advertising. Instead the reader voluntarily forwards it to please his friends with something he wants to share with them.   

       When someone receives a forwarded page by e-mail he just replies to it on the listservers' address and he is instantly subscribed to read the book. Another reader won, the best way to expand the readership.   

       If I will distribute my book in this fashion I will not advertise it, but will send only one copy to silverstormer and Taika. It will be up to them to forward it if they like 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 others.   

       About reading from the screen. I have the same trouble with reading a webpage from a CRT. With a portable 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 than it does with a big screen in front of me, more personal or something. And the LCD screen is less tiresome. Also when I am reading e-mail, with the reply-button always near, I am more involved than with webpages where a hyperlink _away_ from the text is always near.
rrr, Jul 25 2003

       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 of pages.
rrr, Jul 26 2003

       [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.
bristolz, Aug 23 2003


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