This thought randomly hit me, but I figured it would be entertaining for you guys to play around with also.
What if a person were to write a book, but charge 99 cents per chapter? In this day and age where people have mobile phones and Kindles and read ebooks off of them and buy 99 cent apps all the time, do you reckon an author might get away with writing a book, then releasing it chapter by chapter, 99 cents per chapter? Kind of like buying episodic games (Sonic 4 for example), but instead it's a chapter of a book.
I mean, many of us are compulsive buyers (yes, I'm going to generalize that. Try and prove me wrong, I dare you) and 99 cents is very cheap. The affordable, 99 cent chunks look great in the short term, and often we care more about instant gratification than enduring to get the bigger reward. (Like me for instance. I've been saving money by recycling cans and bottles. But usually when I get around ten dollars or so, instead of saving it, I buy a 3DS eshop game or a WiiWare or VC title. I could have easily afforded a game like Kid Icarus: Uprising or Mario Kart 7 by now, or even continued saving for an HD PVR or Wii U or something, but I didn't want to wait and instead went for the instant gratification of being able to afford the cheaper, smaller games.)
So if a famous author announced that he/she would sell his/her book on the Internet in ebook format, chapter by chapter, 99 cents per chapter, how would you take it?
Of course, each chapter would have to be good enough to compel you into purchasing the next. Obviously, by the time you're done, you'll have spent more money for each chapter than you normally would a book in its entirety. But if you're busy looking at the smaller picture and the 99 cent affordability in the short term, you might be wooed by such a concept. After all, if you lack the patience of saving money, 99 cents a week sounds a whole lot more inviting than saving up for a 20 dollar hardcover, or just waiting a year or so for the paperback.
I'd love to write those, but I wouldn't buy them. There's nothing stopping the writer from just quitting halway through.
With whole books, you know that you are getting a complete story. True, if a series is dropped halfway through, it's very annoying. But it's still less frustrating than reading halfway through an individual novel and being unable to continue.
I was thinking that if this happened, certain rules would have to be in place. You'd have to finish your book before releasing it chapter by chapter. If enforcing something like that is impossible, you could still rely on the honor of well known and accomplished authors.
Let's say J.K. Rowling decided to go this route. Imagine her writing a book called Harry Potter: The After Years or any completley new story. Many of us loved her books, so how would you take it if she wrote a new (finished) novel, then announced she'd be selling it exclusively on the Internet, a chapter a week and 99 cents per chapter?
If you ask me, it's almost a win-win situation. Possibly an independent feat for the author who will A, perhaps have the middle man cut out and thus making more profit, and B, making even more money by selling a completed book chapter by chapter. All the while, those of us who like cheap chunks instead of saving up for the entire package will be suckered benefit from it.
And another reason just hit me. Socially, this would be a great idea too. Discussions of a chapter during the week. Hype for the next chapter. These reasons could spark more hype for it, and in a lemming-like society where people feel pressure into fitting in the social encouragement would increase sales, so long as each chapter keeps you thirsting for more.
A year after the last chapter has been released, the author could then sell the book in its entirety (regular price I mean, not the sum of all the chapters' prices) and reel in those who were patiently waiting. Another win-win. Patient person doesn't ignore book because of earlier chapter by chapter sales, and author makes money off of them.
Thus, the author has made good money off the short-term buyer (and ravenous fans who can't wait to get their hands on the latest installment) while also rewarding the smart ones patient (dare I say frugal) ones.