(Business) Direct-to-Digital Publishing

digitalIn a recent article in Publisher’s Weekly, Barbour Publishers announced the release of a new imprint entitled Shiloh Run Press.This imprint will publish both genre fiction and non-fiction.

What I found particularly interesting about Barbour’s new line is that it will publish fiction in series or installments. This is a throwback to the early days of publishing when novels appeared in magazines in installments over an extended period of time. That practice proved very effective in not only gaining readers for the magazine but also in gaining buyers for the novels. 

Apart from its questionable origins in the legendary One Thousand and One Nights, the serial novel had its roots in France. In 1836, a Parisian newspaper owner brainstormed for ways to get people to buy his newspaper on a daily basis rather than a weekly one. He hit upon the brilliant idea of publishing a novel in installments. His thought process was simple: If the reader were left hanging on a cliff each day (the cliffhanger), she would be compelled to buy the next day’s issue of the paper to find out what happened to the protagonist. To this end, the Parisian business owner hired Honoré de Balzac to provide the stories, resulting in the birth of the serial novel.

The process took hold in England as well when Charles Dickens published The Pickwick Papers in serial form. Soon the serial novel had become the rage.

Now, with Barbour’s launch of the serial novel in digital format, this venerable publisher has resurrected an old practice and given it a new contemporary look. Kudos to Barbour! This house may have hit on something big, making the digital serial novel the new rage. Only time will tell.
Source: A Short HIstory of Serial Fiction
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