The founder of the Waterstones book chain in the United Kingdom is setting up a subscription service for digital books. Read Petite
will allow customers to read short stories and serializations, with an unlimited number of novellas readable for a monthly fee, effectively becoming the equivalent of Spotify but for ebooks and magazines.
In an effort to keep the quality of literary offerings high, Read Petite will only allow items to be published on the service by authors that have made deals with existing publishers. Though this will limit the amount of works on offer, the startup has already found works from Graham Greene and Aldous Huxley that have not been published. "It worked for Dickens and it worked for us. If you are going to read on a laptop, or a smartphone or a tablet, [a short story] is about as much as you want," said Waterstone to the Daily Telegraph
, referring to the tradition of novelists in the 19th century publishing individual chapters of their books in newspapers.
Short-form publishing has already been adopted by digital publishers, with Amazon offering Kindle Singles
to its readers at a cost of $2 to $3 per item. A large number of ebooks also exist in online stores at an extremely low cost or free, making Read Petite's job of attracting subscribers even harder.
Read Petite will be looking towards launching the service later this year, and is expected to cost between £5 ($7.70) and £12 ($18.40) per month.