As citizens prospered economically, they began to have more time to devote to sustained reading, and publishing houses became more prevalent. While short stories still found a home in many magazines, full-length books largely replaced the serialized novel. In the 20th century, the emergence of television became the standard medium for serialized storytelling. Now, people spend as much as ten times as many minutes per day watching tv as they do reading.
But maybe serial literature is making a comeback. A new website, Serial Box, is aiming to become "the HBO of books" by releasing new literature in weekly installments. And they aren't just breaking up completed novels; they are starting from scratch with a team of writers, developing the book as writers on a tv show do. The hope is to inspire a binge-reading opportunity where readers get hooked on a story and want to "tune in" to get the next chapter as soon as possible.
I think this is a great idea, though not a new one, and I hope it inspires a new wave of readers and writers who will adapt to this method of distribution. For a recent article about serialized literature, check here.