Dickens, Tolstoy, Austen, Descartes. We aren’t accustomed to seeing these names in our inboxes. But one innovative website that officially launched this month wants to change all that.
Hoping to cash in on an area of publishing that hasn’t yet been explored, www.dailylit.com offers to send its users installments of over 400 classic titles ranging from adventure novels to the The Communist Manifesto. The site breaks the books down into convenient segments that are designed to be read in just a few minutes, and sends these segments directly to your email account or any handheld device of your choice (i.e. your Blackberry, Sidekick, Treo, etc.).
The theory behind www.dailylit.com is that users can read something more substantial than spam on their way into work and during breaks throughout the day. The site explains that: “if you are like us, you spend hours each day reading email but don’t find the time to read books. DailyLit brings books right into your inbox in convenient small messages that take less than 5 minutes to read.”
The site has enjoyed some early success, with 50,000 people already registering to receive over 75,000 titles. My guess is that people are intrigued with the idea of reading books again, especially in the midst of a busy schedule. But how will someone fare after realizing that the book they signed up for has over 500 parts, translating into over a year of reading one installment per day? (Watch out for Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo; it has 581.)
Although the idea sounds promising, it may be a stretch to assume that masses of people will voluntarily choose to read classic novels like Crime and Punishment and A Tale of Two Cities in their downtime. Currently the site offers its services for free because all of the titles it holds are out of copyright. However, in hopes of expanding its membership and ensuring long-term success, DailyLit plans to begin offering newer titles within the next month or so.
So the real question is, are you willing to pay $5.00 for installments of the books you really want to read? And although the site can send several segments simultaneously, will you feel like contacting DailyLit every time you can fit more than 5 minutes of reading into your day?
I applaud the site’s creative efforts, seeing as reading books seems to be a lost art nowadays. But I also can’t say that their top 10 list of popular authors (including Herman Melville and James Joyce) really tickles my fancy. I’ll be waiting to see what new titles they unveil in the upcoming months, and will choose some books with fewer installments before diving into the classics.