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A New, App-Based Format For Novels (theguardian.com) 57

HughPickens.com writes: The Guardian reports that Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, plans to release his new novel, a historical drama set in London during the 1840s, in installments via an app. It's a tradition that dates back to Charles Dickens, but utilizes modern technology. Each of Belgravia's 11 chapters will be delivered on a weekly basis, and will come with multimedia extras including music, character portraits, family trees and an audio book version. "To marry the traditions of the Victorian novel to modern technology, allowing the reader, or listener, an involvement with the characters and the background of the story and the world in which it takes place, that would not have been possible until now, and yet to preserve within that the strongest traditions of storytelling, seems to me a marvelous goal and a real adventure," says Fellowes.

Publisher Jamie Raab says the format appealed to her precisely because of Fellowes's television background and his ability to keep audiences engaged in a story over months and even years. "I've always been intrigued by the idea of publishing a novel in short episodic bites. He gets how to keep the story paced so that you're caught up in the current episode, then you're left with a cliffhanger."

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A New, App-Based Format For Novels

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  • New? Hardly. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @05:00PM (#51243789)

    "A New, App-Based Format For Novels "

    We call it a normal money making scheme app with in-app purchases to lure the morons to spend their hard earned cash.

    • So this is a blog, but with payments. We are back in the nineties.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not really. In the 90s it would have just been done with html and hence readable on any old computer with a browser. This is a more 80s approach where it's all locked in a program... sorry, app... stuck on whatever subset of platforms they choose to support.

    • We call it kindle, acrobad reader, plus various proprietary things from Google, Apple, M$. You can already spend a fortune in Kindle without realizing it, if you are an avid and relatively fast reader.

    • It's a tradition that dates back to Charles Dickens,

      Uh... no. It's a tradition that dates back to the first newspapers. That was a hell of a lot earlier than Dickens.

  • What do you want to bet this is going to be $4-$5 per installment.......and is there a sunset date. Also.....I'm sure there are provisions that prevent you from sharing out to others of course......
    • The NY Times article linked in the first article linked says $1.99 each or $13.99 for the whole thing.

    • Funnily enough, if you inflation adjust the 1890s cost of the Strand Magazine with Sherlock Holmes installments then you get about $4. (sixpence = 1/40 * GBP)
  • Releasing novels via apps is very traditional, dates back to Charles Dickens time. Charles only supported Windows Mobile and Blackberry's. This new app will be more modern. Really exciting stuff!
    • Pah, newbie. I remember the time when these updates were only available for Babbage's Analytical Engine.
      Each update came in the form of a crate of parts you had to install in your Engine.

  • Awful format (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Tuesday January 05, 2016 @05:20PM (#51243945)

    Forgetting the stupid costs and such, the idea of waiting to read the next part of a book is incredibly bad.

    I typically read a book in a few days; then I read another. I don't interleave books, so I'd be dependent on the 13 week release schedule to complete this book to get another one to read.

    Multimedia doesn't excite me at all, either. That's not why I read books.

    • I agree its an awful idea, but what really concerns me is that it probably doesn't have to be that successful for every fecker to give it a go and then every book will come wrapped in its own app.

      Apart from the multimedia crap (and obviously the money/power play involved) there's really no reason for it to come in its own app. I mean is there any technical reason you can't release a chapter at a time on Kindle/Kobo/Nook/whatever?

      • by taustin ( 171655 )

        If I could be bothered to get a smart phone, I still wouldn't be interested in buying a web page that pretends to be a novel, and even if I were, I certainly wouldn't add the security hazard of an app created by a bunch of penny pinching morons, which is all that's left in the publishing industry.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It's easier for an app to violate your privacy for extra profit.

        The idea is to turn shit into gold by adding some cheap multimedia crap, stealing your personal data and trying to go viral like some kind of STD.

  • From pot boiler historical soap operas.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://publishingperspectives.com/2010/11/neal-stephensons-mongoliad-revolutionizing-storytelling/#.Vow06PHer0k

    Stephen King's The Green Mile was originally published in six installments you could buy in grocery stores.

  • It is a decent idea, but the OP makes it seem like a new idea. As a boy most of my SciFi reading was done in installments. What did I care? I didn't pay for the subscription. Astounding Magazine published Asimov's Foundation in monthly installments. It was old marketing then, I'm sure. Applying the technological App to the name doesn't change what it is. You're subscribing to a book series. Wait'll it's done and you can buy the book with decent edits.

    At first I thought that perhaps the publisher
    • If worse came to worst, the pirate will just screenshot every page, pass it through an OCR, and have it as a PDF for everyone to download. I see this exact same tomfoolery with all Flash sites that are becoming more common, just so they can bypass AdBlock.

      Long term, it just means reduced sales, because people just are not going to bother going out of their way to download/purchase an app that is not compatibile with their existing library of reading material.

  • Though there's that, too.

    But if the publishers (and established authors) can convince their market that this is the New Bestest Thing Evar, then all novels have to be published this way or they're too "crude and amateurish." And that means that the self-publishing authors, who have zero barrier to entry in to the market, can no longer afford to self publish, because who can afford all the multi-media crap that adds nothing to the value of the novel?

    This isn't a new idea. Publishers have been desperately try

  • The app, if you haven't seen it, is an interactive "book" that covers the basics of the video system for the Atari 2600. It uses a mix of prose and a basic simulator to introduce and demonstrate different techniques:

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/ap... [apple.com]

    Sure, programming the 2600 is a world removed from Victorian England, but interactive content done right can be very engaging, as David's app demonstrates.

    I'm sure there are countless other examples of interactive content people have developed for mobile devices,

  • I see they haven't been to Baen's Bar or Library site - the snippets posted 2-3 times a week for upcoming books (which basically ends up being the first third of the book) and the Free Library (consolidates the snippets to an easier to read format - look - there's a "buy here" button). If they shoot for a patent, there's plenty of prior art.

    • I see they haven't been to Baen's Bar or Library site - the snippets posted 2-3 times a week for upcoming books (which basically ends up being the first third of the book) and the Free Library (consolidates the snippets to an easier to read format - look - there's a "buy here" button). If they shoot for a patent, there's plenty of prior art.

      This, in spades.

      I've read so many Baen books, entire series I'd have never even considered, many of them endless serials but interesting nonetheless.

      This happens because I can read the first one or two books in a series and see if they're any good, then I go out and get others or the rest of the series.

      Same with Charles Stross and his Laundry series.

      And as Eric Flint (one Baen Books' authors) points out, when he started putting his older works up on the Baen site for free, the sales of these older works act

  • and will come with multimedia extras including music, character portraits, family trees and an audio book version

    Can't you just make a fucking book? I want this extra shit like I want shards of glass hammered in to the head of my dick.

    • I want this extra shit like I want shards of glass hammered in to the head of my dick.

      Protip: don't buy it.

      • I want this extra shit like I want shards of glass hammered in to the head of my dick.

        Protip: don't buy it.

        Protip...I see what you did there.

        • Ooh, I found a bug. Click here [slashdot.org] and your comment loses its bolded letters.

          Couldn't figure out what point you were trying to make.

  • stop trying to turn safe, inert data into unsafe executable code.

    it's bad enough that large portions of the web have transformed into executable spyware and crapware with excessive use of mandatory but unneccesary javascript (js for what should be A HREF links FFS!) - ebooks don't need to go the same route.

    there's no need for anti-features like this...it serves only the company pushing it, and actively harms the customer.

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