The concept of a book told in serial form is not new. Any avid reader should know of and have read at least one classic that started out first in serial form, which shouldn't be too difficult. Almost all of Charles Dickens' novels began their lives in serial form. Dickens' likewise edited several novels which were published in serial form in his magazines including stories by Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins. And then there's Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes, who appeared first in a series. What readers may not know (myself included until today), is that one of the first books published in serial form was One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights).
And now it appears books in serial form are making a comeback through the Internet. Thanks to MizB over at ShouldBeReading for the tip about Alexander McCall Smith's latest publication, Corduroy Mansions, a novel which is only being published online at Telegraph.co.uk in serial form at one chapter per weekday. (70 chapters have already been posted.) For more information head over to the Telegraph website or go directly to the novel by visiting Corduroy Mansions.
What is Corduroy Mansions?
"Corduroy Mansions is an unassuming large house in London's Pimlico, inhabited by an assortment of characters and one dog, writes Alexander McCall Smith. The date of the building is indeterminate, but there are Arts and Craft features that point to the very late nineteenth century. It is believed to have been built as an asylum, or possibly a school, or a mansion block..."
For those unfamiliar with Mr. Smith, he is the best-selling author of The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series. I do not know much about Mr. Smith's writing outside of the first book in that series, so this post should not be considered a recommendation... (at least not until I've had a chance to read the book and determine my opinion.)
But I do think it is a very clever idea and wanted to mention it. I especially liked the fact that the book can be read online, sent daily via email or text, or downloaded as a podcast. One other unique feature of this book is the fact that Mr. Smith has made his book interactive by welcoming comments and input from readers as the story progresses.