THE FOUNDER of Waterstones is planning to launch a Spotify-like digital book service called Read Petite.
Aiming to become the literary analogue of the popular music streaming service, Read Petite will allow readers to subscribe to short stories and longer articles for a monthly fee.
Speaking to the Guardian, the bookstore founder Tim Waterstone said Read Petite will be launched at next week's London Book Fair. It will ask users to pay a subscription of "a few pounds" a month and will allow unlimited access to texts of around 9,000 words or under, Waterstone said.
Although Read Petite's subscription model is similar in a way to Spotify, it will not host a database of texts or a free version. Instead, Waterstone said that the website will offer "curated" content to ensure quality, not quantity.
"The individual short story, or whatever it is, may not have been published, but the author will be an established, published writer," Waterstone said. "The whole point is to avoid a slush-pile of material. What we'll guarantee is quality writing."
The service will be web browser based and will allow customers to read across any device - mobile phone, e-reader or tablet.
Read Petite already has a landing webpage, featuring a very happy looking young girl holding an e-reader, where users can sign up to a mailing list for future announcements. Its co-founders, agent Peter Cox and publishing consultant Martyn Daniels, said they have yet to ink agreements with major publishers.
"We are genuinely trying to expand the reading market, and bring publishers together under our aegis to do something new. Up until now, short-form writing hasn't really been economic to produce, but we think we can unleash it," Cox told The Bookseller.
Read Petitie is aimed at 35-55 year olds with little time on their hands. It's not quite sure how the service will be delivered, but we'll cover the news when it is announced at the London Book Fair next week, when full details will be released. µ