Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Annabel's View: Mr. Waterstone's new app 'Read Petite' in development

Read Petite Logo
The new service
expected this autumn.
A new reading app, called Read Petite, is due to be launched to the public in autumn. For any traders who've missed this piece of news, it was launched to trade at the London Book Fair in April.

Read Petite is founded by Tim Waterstone (founder of the book retailer Waterstones) along with literary agent Peter Cox, the former editor of The Bookseller magazine, Neill Denny, and founder of book supply chain specialist, Batch, Martyn Daniels.

The app will allow more people, who may be interested in literature but are short on time, to get in on some wonderful literary pieces. You could expect short stories by Graham Greene and Aldous Huxley.

"A lot of the best short fiction has never been properly exposed, because publishers don't find it commercially comfortable," says Waterstone. "Even with a collection, how do you package it? It's difficult in print: traditionally, money was used up on production and distribution, and not enough was left for promotion. In the digital world, production costs are virtually nil, and distribution costs don't exist, so you're left with a much cleaner sheet."

Each book will be under 9,000 words, and many will be serialised, allowing the reader to dip in and out of series comfortably. Denny and Waterstone, when chatting to the Guardian, spoke of their excitement at reintroducing the art of the cliffhanger, and how e-readers have increased people's appetite for a short story.

Some have dubbed Read Petite as the Spotify of the literary world, which some claim has poor quality control. However, Waterstone guarantees that only high quality material will be featured, and authors appearing on this new service will already be "an established, published writer". Although this does not mean the actual works themselves will have been published in the past.

Interesting news, not only for this commuter consumer, but also for the writing industry.

There is no doubt the service will provide a great platform for published authors everywhere. However, I do think it is slightly unfair that those wishing to be published on the site must have been published in traditional print first. Read Petite could be missing out on some great works by those wishing to publish, but who are short on time and resources. The site could have provided the opportunity for authors' first short(s) to be earning the money to fund the next in the series. That way Read Petite would be good news for new writers, as well as those who are winding down their writing careers. (In any case, bad news for printers – sorry.) It will be interesting to see if policies change over time.

Further to this, the possibility of Read Petite publishing journalism is also on the cards if the funds keep coming; "if the site works, if the total subscriptions are high enough, it should leave a decent sum", Waterstone told The Guardian. The details of how this will run have yet to be confirmed.

Versu Logo
An interactive app that allows you
to be part of the story.
Another reading app that came to my attention while researching Read Petite, is Versu.

Versu is an interactive app, that allows you to become one of the characters in the story, and to make choices about what your character will do next, to see how your fellow characters react, and react to them. Less likely to be literary genius, but will perhaps attract a younger market than Read Petite.

Either way, at least we might be reading more.

As a twenty-something who is often short of time and can often feel uncommitted to a lengthy tome, I look forward to Read Petite. And, as someone who knows a few young writers, I am very happy at the new opportunities that may arise here for them.

To subscribe for more information from Read Petite, see readpetite.com.
To find out more information about Versu and to get the app, see versu.com.

Are you looking forward to the release of Read Petite?

Sources of Information:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/digital-media/9985362/Waterstones-founder-to-launch-Spotify-for-books.html
http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2260971/waterstones-founder-will-launch-a-spotifylike-digital-book-service
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/09/tim-waterstone-reading-entirely-digital