Reading by channels

Reading by channels

I read an interesting

CNN article (originally Wired) by Kyle VanHemert

in my morning Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) read the other day**.

The thrust of the article was that services like Netflix, Roku channels, and Amazon Instant Video are missing an important element by having us choose what we want to watch each time.

I agree.

Sure, it’s great to be able to choose…to say, “I want to watch this movie now” and be able to do it.

However, it’s also a wonderfully serendipitous feeling to just blunder into something that’s good.

Think about it. I would never ever have to watch something without knowing what it was first. Yet, I do.

Let me give you an example.

In the NBC News channel on my

I can select to watch individual stories, maybe just ones that interest me.

I don’t do that, usually. I start the top news running, and just let it run from story to story.


I think it’s fun. 😉 I think we are geared towards having unplanned experiences…that’s a lot more natural. We have a joy of discovery.

VanHemert has a great point:

“Consider, for example, a strange paradox of the streaming video age: You’ll totally watch an hour of “Ghostbusters” on TNT, but you’d never in a million years start it up from the top on Netflix, even though it’s always right there, just a dozen clicks away.”

I own DVDs of movies, but I’m a lot more likely to watch a show if it just happens to be on than to pull out the DVD (those seem to be more for special occasions…like when my adult kid and an adult friend and I watched all of The Prisoner ((at AmazonSmile)) in one day). 😉

Naturally, that got my mind exploring (most things do).

What if we read like that?

What if there was, say, a science fiction channel, a romance channel, a mystery channel, a non-fiction channel, and so?

You would “tune into” a channel, and see what was on. If you wanted to read it great…start reading.

Now, I don’t mean that everybody would read it at the same time. While we all generally have the same “watching speed”, we don’t have the same reading speeds.

You’d have to be able to download it and read it at your own pace.

I would think you could only have one thing downloaded at a time. When you finished it, you’d “return it”…and see what else was “on”.

I wonder if that would work?

It’s even possible to me that I would read half of a book (a novel if I’ve read it before…maybe a collection of non-fiction essays if I haven’t), but that seems unlikely to have mass appeal. 🙂

No, I’d see it being with novels and non-fiction books…but short stories might work especially well.

Yes, I would go to a short story channel, and just read whatever came up.

That might work.

The faster you would read, of course, the more opportunity you’d have to read, but I think that’s reasonable.

Don’t see something you like on one channel? Go to another channel…switch from “urban short stories” to “Victorian poetry” to “Penny Dreadfuls” until you found something you liked. Download it, read it, see what else was on.

Would it work economically?

Hard to say.

I think publishers might especially like the discovery aspect as a way to “push” lesser known works. There could certainly be a way to buy other works by that author at the end of the piece you read…and/or you could buy it if you wanted to keep it. Gifting might be another income stream.

It could be like television now. Either you pay for it by watching ads, or it is a subser (subscription service…you pay a flat rate for the month or year).

Certainly, there are some things a little bit like this. Science fiction magazines come to mind: we wouldn’t get to choose which stories would appear in which issues. In my Sherlock Holmes blog, 221B Blog Street, you just get each day whatever is the next chapter or story in order (unless you are reading on the website). There are other literary magazines and blogs, of course.

That doesn’t seem quite the same…

This is all just a thought experiment. I’m not at all convinced it would work. Many people have a lot higher standard for what they read than I do…I’m pretty open to reading all different kinds of things. Some people say that they “…don’t have time to read bad books”. I’m not yet convinced that there are bad books…there are better books, but I’ve never regretted reading a book yet.

I also have to say, some of my favorite books (including Doc Savage), I didn’t seek out and read by choice…they were the only books available to me at the time.

Anyway, just a thought…

What do you think? Could this work at all? Have you ever read only part of a novel…on purpose? Maybe on vacation, or in a store? Have you ever read something “by accident”, just because it was there…and loved it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** I’ve written before on this blog about having what I refer to as “Temporal Awareness Disorder” (that’s just my term for it). I really don’t have a good sense of the passage of time. While I don’t remember all things equally, I can’t tell from a memory if it’s old (like a decade ago) or new (like a week ago). I typically have to look at internal clues to figure it out. My Significant Other pointed something out to me years ago. I refer to “today”. I refer to “yesterday”. Everything else that is in the past, if it isn’t “yesterday”, is often simply, “the other day” for me. That could be true if it happened just recently or when I was a kid…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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