Serial Box has a new strategy for reading that I find intriguing. They’re basically releasing books in a serial format that is modeled after TV. Each week a new “episode” comes out— a chapter of the book that they say can typically be read in about 45 minutes or so.
The idea isn’t completely new—it sort of reminds me of how I used to read stories in the sci-fi magazine I got when I was younger, with each piece of the story coming out in the latest magazine. And some novels are published in a serialized manner too. But the idea of weekly episodes and a site where you can read multiple serialized stories seems unique to me.
I’ll confess that I’m torn about the idea. On the one hand, I tend to lose interest in even TV when I have to wait a week between episodes. I binge watch almost everything nowadays, waiting until a full season is available on Netflix before jumping in. BUT I like the idea of short digestible parts of a story because it feels like you can get the entertainment value of a book without putting in hours at a time reading. I’m wondering if it might be great for people who don’t really feel like readers (people like my husband, who claims he can’t read a full book). Since there’s an audio version of each episode as well, it might also appeal to people who listen to podcasts (in fact, they actually refer to the episodes as podcasts).
Serial Box gave me access to the first season so that I could see what I thought, and I read the three available episodes of The Fisher of Bones (which is actually available for anyone to read for free) and the first few episodes of Remade.
The Fisher of Bones
- The episodes for this book are very short (much shorter than other serials on the site), but they give a good taste of what Serial Box is all about.
- I was immediately intrigued by the fantasy world that’s introduced. I hadn’t read the blurb before I jumped into reading, but I immediately recognized many of the parallels between this story and the story of the Israelites journey to the Promised Land in the Bible (but this story is very revisionist—it’s not just a retelling of the story, it’s more of a fantasy take on a similar journey).
- The book jumps right into the fantasy world, and you get very little background information. When we only get a snippet of the story at a time, you can’t spend lots of time on background information. You sort of have to be thrown right into the action for it to work.
- There are plenty of mysteries presented right from the very first episode—and few answers. I actually kind of liked this, and I think it might be key to this type of story. How do you get readers to keep tuning in? Give enough to pull them in and make them curious, but definitely keep them guessing!
- I read the first two episodes of the series back-to-back and then waited about a week to read the third (to give me more of an idea of what it would be like to read it as a serial). I found that I remembered the story easily and that it didn’t take me any time at all to get back into it.
- If you do need a reminder of what happened previously, though, there’s a nice little recap at the top of each episode—a refresher, as they call it—to help you!
- All of the episodes of Fisher are written by a single author, so the story is completely cohesive.
- ReMade is a YA sci-fi tale, and I think this type of format might really appeal to a YA audience.
- Again, this story jumps right into the action. Since the characters themselves have no idea what’s happening to them, we don’t either—we’re figuring it out along with them. Some people might find this disconcerting, but I actually liked the mystery and the crazy sci-fi elements.
- Each episode focuses on a different main character (though it looks like some characters repeat as the season goes on). We see what’s happening now as they’re thrown into a strange, sci-fi world, and pieces of their “regular” lives that led to them ending up there.
- I enjoyed getting to know these characters and I’m invested in finding out what’s going to happen to them.
- I listened to the Podcast version of episode two, and it was fantastic! They’ve added sound effects, ambient noise, and music behind the narrators, and I really enjoyed the effect. I plan to continue listening to the series this way.
- I listened via the app, which seems like the easiest way. I actually had a hard time figuring out how to get to the audio version on the site (turns out, you have to click Download and then there’s an audio option).
- Apparently, they just added functionality so you can stream the audio from the app instead of downloading it, which is handy (I downloaded with no problem, but sometimes it’s not that easy).
- There are six authors writing the episodes for ReMade (I believe it’s one author per POV). This works well since each character has a unique perspective on the story.
I hope to continue both of these serials, so I’ll let you know what I think when I finish up Season 1 of ReMade. By then, I’ll have an even better idea of how the whole idea holds up.
If you’re looking for something a little different, Serial Box might be a great way to mix things up with your reading. Only have an hour before you go to bed to read or listen to a book? Well, this is perfect. Today is the launch of the second season, so it’s a great time to jump in!
There are series available in several different genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Adult Contemporary, Thriller, YA Sci-Fi. And I believe there are more planned to be added to the mix.
To me, one huge advantage books have over TV is that you can get the whole story all at once. So I don’t know that this format would do much for me. I did read some classics on an app that was set up like this (did I hear about the app on this blog? Possibly!), and that worked because I was reading more for the cultural literacy and for the style than for the plot, which I already knew the outline of. It does sound like an interesting service though, and I am sure that my students would really enjoy something like that.
Yeah, I haven’t been able to stick with the serials that well, as I suspected. But I do enjoy them.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything in a serial format, but I remember some authors releasing books this way before. I don’t know how well it did but I like the idea. It makes me think of how the Sherlock stories were first released! I can see a serial format working really well for mysteries, because you automatically have that “I need to keep reading” state of mind.
Yeah, I think some types of books work well in this format.
I’ve heard about this one. It reminds me of back when Stephen King’s Green Mile came out in separate books, and there was a John Saul series too I think. It was okay if they released them close enough, but today, well I’d probably lose patience with it. Thanks for reviewing this!
I think it’s an interesting idea!
I haven’t heard of Serial Box before, but have been thinking of trying something a little similar format for “Classics.” (I think the app might be called Serial Reader?) There are a lot of Classic Books I’d like to read, but don’t think I’d have the attention span of more than 1-2 chapters a week. I’d have a problem if the book was really good though – I need that instant gratification and get confused if I’m reading more than one story at a time! 🙂
I hadn’t heard of that, but it might be interesting to check it out!
Hmmm, IDK. I’ve read like 3 serials and like you, I’m not one who waits for an episode every week, I’m a binge watcher. I think I could see myself enjoying this format IF it is an author I am already obsessed with or an author I’ve always wanted to try. I’m not sure the serial format is my cuppa, but I do admire people who try to invent new ways to enjoy literature! 🙂
I like these, but I’m having trouble keeping myself interested, which is what I feared.
I don’t think this would really work for me as I like to get as much reading done in one sitting. But like you said, this might be great for those people that don’t have all the time or get scared away by a book.
Yeah, I think for some people this could be perfect!
This kind of reminds of Serial Reader (which might be the same people) haha Serial Reader is for classics. so they send you a bit at a time. I like it because I don’t read a lot of classics so it helps make it more doable to me. For non-classics, I feel like it would be a bit different. Like, there would have to be REALLY good cliffhangers for me to want to wait a week lol But I’m going to look into this. It sounds cool.
Someone else mentioned this too—I hadn’t heard of it, but it would be interesting to check out!
Both of these stories sound interesting! But I’m not a serial person. I like to binge-read whole series even, which is like the opposite lol. It’s harder for me to sink into a story when it’s in short little pieces. But I’m currently reading one ongoing webcomic, so I guess I *can* do it, I just prefer to have more to read at once!
Yeah, I like to binge read sometimes too. But I think this could be perfect for some people.
I wrote a big comment and then it was gone and now I want to cry. And I am sick. So I can’t do it again, sorry. But I enjoyed your review of this. Know that I read it AND thought about it AND wrote a 2 paragraph response AND went to the website 😀
Ha! It is known. 🙂
Hmmm this is interesting. An author I like did this for one her books, but I waited until they were all out before I bought them. That’s because I’m a binge reader/watcher like you. And I don’t like mixing stories….I can only read one book at a time. So while this format won’t work for me, I’m definitely interested in these books when they’re completed!
Yeah, it seems like, as a binge watcher, serials might be hard for me to stick to. I like these stories though, so we’ll see.
I started reading a series that was like this. Once “book” came out every month. I lost interest though and never got to the end. It is interesting, if it was long enough maybe? Great topic!
Yeah, I’m thinking once a week might work better than once a month, but it’s hard to say for sure.
It’s a very interesting concept to have having a comeback. I know some classic novels used to be in serial form as well (and some people claim it’s why those ones in particular are so long.) And with series on the rise and falling in par with movies these days in popularity, I think it makes sense that stories like this will work for some readers more than others as well. I can think of some non-reader friends of mine who would probably read more if it was a serial!
Interesting that some people think that some of the classics were longer because they were serials.