Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Home Delivery

Over the past two decades, the publishing industry has been changing rapidly. The good news is that there are more good books to choose from than ever before. The reasons for that are many, but the biggest driver is that there are more people with an education and the free time to write a book, and more ways for them to get their work published. Ebooks, print-on-demand, and self-publishing have created a very crowded marketplace. Publishers are scrambling to remain relevant, and writers are becoming ever more desperate to get their books noticed.

One strategy that seems to be working is the rebirth of an old idea: the serial novel. John Scalzi’s most recent effort, The Human Division, was published in thirteen weekly installments as an ebook, at 99¢ apiece. After the final installment was released, the book was published in its entirety as both print and ebook. It seems to have worked quite well.

Mary Logue is doing something similar, but more old school. Her novel Giving Up the Ghost is being published in fifty daily installments in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, beginning on Sunday, June 9. That’s how Charles Dickens did it 150 years ago. Her complete novel is also available as an ebook.

I remember reading serialized novels in the paper back in the 1960s. (Ian Fleming's last James Bond novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, was published serially in the Minneapolis Star.) Waiting every day for a new episode was exciting! I'm glad to see the practice revived. In fact, I've just ordered home delivery of the Star Tribune for the first time in a decade. I have missed the solid slap of a newspaper landing on the front step every morning—so much more substantial than the electronic ping of an arriving email.

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