Books, Tech

Subscribe To A Literary Soap Opera

Rooster is a new reading app that picks and chooses for you, your reading matter, and then delivers it to your mobile device.

Every month, an editorial team of writers and readers selects two novels—pairing a contemporary work with a classic—and breaks them up into a series of installments, each no longer than 20 minutes of reading time. Subscribers decide how often they’d like them, and the time of the day they’d like them sent.

I’d read of such a bookstore in P.D. James’ “Cover Her Face.” The “Select Book Club” curated volumes for its members, who came in person, once a month, to pick them up.

[It] catered for that class of reader, which likes a good story, without caring much who writes it, prefers to be spared the tedium of personal choice, and believes that a bookcase of volumes, equal in size and bound in exactly the same colour, gives tone to any room.

Serialized publishing isn’t a new concept either. A lot of the Victorian novels were originally released in as weekly or monthly installments in magazines or newspapers.

“The Pickwick Papers,” by Charles Dickens, published in 1836, is widely believed to have created a taste for such a format. Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers,” each appeared as a feuilleton (a literary supplement attached to a French newspaper.) One of the reasons 19th century novels were so long was that they were produced in book form after they’d ran as literary soap operas. “The Count of Monte Cristo” was broken into 139 segments.

Rooster is an app well-suited for people who’re completely clueless about their reading preferences and couldn’t take the trouble to find out. I wouldn’t put much stock in such a tool myself. For one, I know what I like. For another, I wouldn’t trust a complete stranger—someone who hasn’t the foggiest clue of what I enjoy reading—to pick a title for me, and one for which I’m paying.

h/t: Co.DESIGN

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