Following very nicely on from my last post on serialising fiction, I came across an article from The Guardian about the love of the Chinese people for serialised fiction. Apparently 195 million of them are hooked on this ‘original fiction’. Authors post up their stories in instalments on various self-publishing websites. When a particular author gets a certain critical mass of readers, he or she becomes a VIP and from there on, readers must start paying a small fee to carry on reading their work. They pay 2-3 yuan per 100,000 words, roughly 23 cents (Euro). With millions of readers, this is adding up to very respectable earnings. Some of these stories have become video games and TV programmes.
This freemium publishing model is coming to the States. Shanda Literature, the biggest of the Chinese online publishers, is going to set up a subsidiary in San Francisco to test out what it calls its ‘unique business model’ on the American market. It will be attracting American authors as well as offering translations from its Chinese authors.
I suspect that Shanda is on to a winner. I think serialising and charging what are known as ‘micropayments’ is a very interesting idea indeed.