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Summary:

Dime novels were sold long ago as a serial, with a chapter released every so often for a nickel or a dime. The story was doled out in small pieces to hook the reader. Dime Novel Publishing is hoping to revive the concept in digital form.

Dime Novel

The dime novel was popular before my time, back before a TV was in every home and folks looked for cheap entertainment. These novels were sold as a serial, with a chapter released every so often for a nickel or a dime. They were quite popular as the story was doled out in small enough pieces to hook the reader to get them coming back for each episode. Dime Novel Publishing is hoping to revive the concept in digital form.

This serial approach is perfect for the e-book form, as new episodes can be purchased and read immediately upon release. There’s no searching around to see if the store has it yet, a notification tells you it’s available and you go get it. That’s if you can afford it. Each episode in the Dime Novel portfolio is $0.99, which sounds pretty cheap until you realize each novel consists of 23 episodes. The first one is free to get you hooked but you pony up the cash for the other 22 episodes. Yes, each complete novel will cost you $21.78. Not quite a dime novel, is it?

There are three serials currently available, and they look to be aimed at young readers. A new episode for each is released every 10 days and sold through Smashwords.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Irrational Exuberance Over E-Books?

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  1. 100 years ago, $0.10 was more like $2.00. Many of the dime novel series lasted hundreds of books (what you describe as chapters) with each sometimes having a hundred pages or more.

    The whole point is that you can afford it because you are only paying $0.99 at a time.

  2. I wonder if these are more parasitics looting the public domain and then slapping THEIR Copyright on them. This has been a big problem with Google Books. Congress and the Copyright Office should not permit such looting of the public domain.

  3. I guess it all depends on how long each episode is. If it’s 20 pages then that’s a scam. If it’s 700 pages then that’s a bargain.

  4. PARASITES. Damn typos. Let me expand. What happens is, someone grabs a public domain book, tarts it up into ePub (just formatting it, no text changes) and then Copyrights it. They then send Google a DMCA notice and the *public domain copy has to be replaced with the “Copyrighted” work — and access goes from Full View to Snippet View!

    1. Agreed, Mike.
      It’s disgraceful what Google is doing, unchecked, to public domain books. Under the guise of making everything free and available, they’re actually monetizing & copyrighting (for themselves) the worlds literary heritage.

  5. Jason Thibeault Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Well it’s great to see people talking about us :D

    Let me address a few things about Dime Novel Publishing.

    First, these are original, serialized stories. We are thinking about digitizing a lot of the original Dime Novels but we will provide them free of charge. I think they should be in electronic format as they are fantastic to read! But our stories are designed to lead you into the next. We want readers to be excited about finishing and eager to get to the next issue. Remember that Dime Novels were the precursor to today’s modern sit-com and comic books.

    Second, we recognize our pricing model is, well, un-orthodox. Generally, our books run 30-50 pages per issue (they will lean more to the larger size especially given some recent feedback about more description). We predict that an average series will run ~1100 pages of content. I think that’s worth the ~$23.

    Third, we will play with pricing. Unfortunately, in today’s distribution model we cannot go lower than $.99 per issue. Neither Amazon nor Apple will allow us. We have the plan to bundle all the issues up at some point into an annual “volume” and sell it for a slightly discounted price. We’d also like to see some sort of subscription model where a reader could subscribe to a series for a cheaper price. Both the annual volume and the subscription are the only real way right now that we can drive down the per-issue price.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to discuss. We think what we are developing is really perfect for the e-book generation. Lots of new series will be coming out this year (including some adult-focused).

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