“Too busy for Books? Read them by E-mail”

Jan 9, 2007 by

This post is for you, Todd.

Alright, so I stole the tag line for this post’s title directly from the Daily Lit site, but since I’m talking about the unique service they provide, I’m hoping it’s alright. While watching my daily dose of Rocketboom I was clued in to a fantastic service that provides a twist on the old serialized novel. Rather than sit down with a lengthy tome or find time to read a few chapters uninterrupted, Daily Lit allows you to read many books in the public domain via e-mail.

Imagine how engaging this might be to a teenager, too involved with his game of World of Warcraft, or too busy chatting on IM to bother to pick up his copy of The Scarlet Letter and read it. Just visit the Dailylit.com site and find the book you want to read, type in your e-mail, and it will be sent to you, bit by bit in serialized fashion for easier reading and digesting. The aforementioned Scarlet Letter comes in 83 bite sized pieces, making it a very enticing alternative to sitting down and staring at a copy of the book and the 8 chapters left to read. What’s even better is that the site allows you to set up an e-mail schedule, so each new part of the book appears in your inbox when you need it. Whether it be daily or just on weekdays, you can tell the service when during the day you’d like it delivered, and if you happen to find yourself with a little extra time each part comes delivered with a link to “send me the next part immediately” so you don’t have to wait a day to continue the book.

The site itself makes an excellent case for such a service on their FAQ page. Almost everyone has time to read a few e-mails (unless you’re one of the unlucky individuals drowning it electronic mail), but many find it difficult to find an hour or two to dedicate just to reading. Personally, I rarely read for pleasure during the school year because there’s so much going on with schoolwork, staying up on Education news and tech blogs. However, finding a little bit of time to read one of the 131 parts of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes would be perfectly plausible. I would hope that this service would also give those high school, and possibly middle school, students enough encouragement to read at their own pace in a setting they’re much more familiar and engaged with; the online world. Whether it be in front of their computers at home, on handhelds, or internet capable cellphones, students would have access to the books whenever they found the time to read through another quick part.

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4 Comments

  1. This is a cool thing. I’ll try it out with my seniors when we start to read either Hamlet or MacBeth (the decision’s yet to be made). For my juniors, if we read The Great Gatsby this year, I’ll tell them about this.

    A big problem is the limited reading list, which will be the problem with anything like this. Having electronic copies of any and all texts read in a class would be great. Of course, copyright laws prevent that. The other thing is whether or not this would actually work. Would a student be more likely to curl up with a good computer screen than a good book? Is it all a matter of the student not wanting to leave the computer? So being able to read while in the same position as IMing would do the trick? I’m curious.

    Thanks for thinking of me, Ben.

  2. Ben

    When it comes down to it, I’d much rather have a book in my hands, as I’m willing to bet many people would like as well. I was thinking that this might work more as a motivator to students that otherwise wouldn’t even crack the book. If they just let the book sit in their bag they never realize how far behind they’re getting, but they start ignoring the e-mails and they quickly get an idea of just how much they’re missing.

    At the very least, it’s one more tool in your arsenal, eh?

  3. I get the ASCD SmartBrief and those things pile up in my inbox. If I *had* to read all of those, I’d have an idea about how far I’m behind because they’re sitting right there every day (assuming I don’t delete them daily). I can see how DailyLit might be a nice reminder for students.

    If the school uses a homework Web site that sends out nightly email reminders of homework assignments (something like School Loop), a teacher could subscribe to the appropriate book enough ahead of time to copy and paste the email as a homework assignment each day. When the nightly email goes out, all of your students get installments of that novel.

    Anyone know a free, online mailing list creator that’s easy to add and delete addresses from? That way I could add all of my students’ email addresses to it and then subscribe the mailing list to something from DailyLit.

  4. Ben

    I was going to e-mail you a few sites Todd, but I thought anyone following the discussion might want the sites as well, so I’ll just post them here. You could use a mailing list manager that you install yourself like Mailman or phpList, OR you could use the New-List, which is an online service that let’s you create your own free lists.

    I’m sure there are more out there, those were just the first few results I found.

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