Book Wars Part 2: Return of Pulps and Serials

Previously, I talked about how the Book Wars, leading to many new
technologies and methods, meant anyone could be an author.  I now want
to look at one way this can affect upcoming media.

I think we may see the return of Pulps (fun-but-trashy/slick fiction) and of serial fiction.


You have an e-book reader.  Yes, you can read a 1000 page novel on it. 
Then again, why does someone have to release a novel of 1000 pages
long?  Or release all of it at once?  Or even have it finished?

E-distribution of books is an area PRIME for the return of serial
fiction.  An author can release a novel as a series of chapters, one a
week (or month).  An author doesn't even necessarily have to end
anything, they can keep a series going, or churn out chapters more like
soap operas, ever-continuing.  The author can release as much or as
little as they want.

With e-readers, it's easy enough to get the text you want, so
downloading anything is relatively painless.  Be it a huge book or a
chapter of a novel coming out in increments, it's all the same to you.

It's a great time to see a return to serial fiction.

In fact, it's an even better time.  For a small fee someone can try a
chapter or two of a serial fiction product to see if they like it (or
perhaps read a few free chapters).  A person can jump in – OR jump out
– of the serial as they see fit, only spending what they want to.  The
access is fast and easy, and as its electronic, they can read it
wherever they have the device, from a train to a boring meeting.

We have the distribution, the technology, and the ability to make
charges more acceptable to readers.  Serial fiction sounds like it can
come back.

Humanity has a strange thing for cheesy things – penny dreadfuls,
b-movies, the sweaty soap operas of Wrestling, the overblown Heavy
Metal concert.

In the area of e-books, this would also be a great time for a return to
the Pulp fictions.  The overblown, cheesy, literary equivalent of
b-movies.  Why do I say this beyond people's ability to enjoy such

First, the changes in text distribution mean that people can find what they want easier – and they may want pulp fictions.

Secondly, at least in the case of e-books, the cost is far less.  So if
you buy something cheesy and it turns out to be lousy, you didn't loose
as much.

Third, spontaneity, again in the area of e-books.  You can just get a wild hair and buy something fun and pandering.

Fourth, this stuff sells.  There's a reason I like my streaming Netflix, I can watch fun b-movies.

There's a market, it's cheaper, and its easier to read your pulpy
fictions (indeed, maybe it looks more dignified on your Kindle or
iPhone to be reading "Star Succubi: The Chronicles of Phoenix Doom"
than if it was a book).

Oddly, I think part of the potential future for books is a return to
the past: serialization, and a definite market for enjoyably lurid
stuff.  We've come full circle in a way.

Phoenix Doom would approve, if he wasn't battling Star Succubi.  See how that goes next chapter.

– Steven Savage