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The brave new book world

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Depending on where you stand, here's an idea that's either truly innovative or very scary. It comes from DailyLit, a digital serial book publisher that shares books in short, customized installments via email and RSS feed. DailyLit has 150,000 subscribers and now, according to AdAge, it's opening its virtual pages to advertisers.

This is a service that's all about practicality. DailyLit's motto is: "Books how, when, and where you want them."

Their book installments arrive in chunks that take five or fewer minutes to read and readers determine the frequency and delivery time of those chunks.

The book romantics among us who find this all a bit terrifying may have to remind ourselves of a few things. One is that publishing is a business intended to make money.

The other is that serialized book installments designed to maximize profits are nothing new. That's exactly how Charles Dickens wrote many of those books we now revere. Dickens may be a literary icon but he's also credited as the man whose success helped to turn publishing into a true business.

So it's probably very appropriate that one of the first DailyLit books to have corporate sponsorship is Dickens's great seasonal classic: "A Christmas Carol."

And perhaps the heartwarming aspect of this story is the fact that a 160-some-year-old tale – with or without advertising – is finding a new life in digital installments.

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