It’s been a hot topic of conversation for several years now — since the advent of the Kindle at least — what is the future of reading? In a society that raises children with iPads instead of books, for better and for worse simultaneously, can books survive?
News coming out of the publishing industry, news that hits the mainstream, is most often negative: more small publishers are failing than ever, and so on. Even the good news is delivered bitterly, like Fifty Shades of Grey becoming a literary and box office success. Is there a future for ‘great’ novels in a world where attention is a highly monetised commodity, in so much demand and in so little supply?
Yet just as the wildfire panic about e-readers has died out, so too will these larger questions: fiction and the written word will continue and will prosper, but the form must be different. Maybe it’s true that we’re in the last throes of ‘traditional’ publishing, and novels need to invent themselves. That’s still a point of vigorous debate, but the innovation is happening now.
I’ve just published my first few chapters on Radish, an app focussed on novel serialisation, the publishing method of Dickens reinvented for the digital age. While currently only available on iOS, an Android equivalent is being developed for release this summer.
Chapters on Radish typically run to 2,000 words, and most stories are published under a Freemium model, meaning that chapters are locked for a week, before becoming free — and you can spend a small amount of money to get them early. It’s a beautiful compromise that allows millions of writers across the globe to make a living from their writing in a new way (apps that Radish is modelled on, based on China and South Korea, turnover huge amounts).
So my appeal to you, with the most transparent self-interest, is to go and download Radish and try reading in a new way; hopefully I can entice you into buying some of my chapters early but, if not, you’ll catch a glimpse of the future of reading in the process.