E-Books to Bring Back the Serial Novel?

Classic Books

Now I’m betting that some of you read the title of this post and had no idea what a serial novel was, or did you? Chances are that you read one without realizing it. After all, have you ever wondered why Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is so freakin’ long? It’s because the book was originally a serial novel that was published chapter by chapter in sequential issues of a magazine.

The days of the serial novel have been long gone, but that may all change now due to the advent of e-books, according to a report at Seattlepi.com.

Turns out that the combined factors of e-books and the Web have created the perfect environment for serial novels to make their triumphant return. Back in the good old days authors such as Dickens liked the serial format because of one simple reason – money. It makes sense since the more stories you published in a magazine, the longer you draw out the story and the more cash you get. Serial novel can easily hold audiences captive for months, sometimes even years, as the story plays out issue by issue.

In recent years, some publishers have realized the serial’s potential in the digital age and two weeks ago, The Huffington Post joined in by announcing that it will start publishing serial novels.

The idea of selling books on an installment basis is a really old one that dates back at least to the 1800s, when greats like Balzac and Dickens used to serialize their stories. It looks to me like we’re headed back towards those days, since digital media allows creators to put out work that is as long or short as they want, at their own pace and in whatever format they like.

Serial e-books could end up being the next big thing in literature and I for one am excited by the prospect, not only as a writer but as a reader, too.

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