SETsquared Blog

Bardowl’s book streaming will change the way we read & write

I was thrilled to see that Bardowl CEO, Chris Book, won the CEO Summit Award for Innovation at last week’s Meffys. Greatly deserved.  Chris is a superb business leader and contributes hugely to the wider venture scene at the Innovation Centre, across Bath and way, way beyond. Bardowl streams books like Spotify streams music. As it spreads its (Owly!) wings, I think Bardowl could have a profound effect on writing. In Elio Van Buskirk’s Time piece he argues ‘How the business of streaming music will change culture … for the better‘ simply by aligning the payments artists receive to what consumers listen to. He believes that artists will no longer produce material just to fill a prescribed format (like they did for a singles, LPs, CDs, pre-paid downloads), but, instead, will be incentivised to make consumers want to listen to everything they produce.

Consumers  of books – paper & audio – have long suffered the same ‘format effect’ that plagued the music industry P.S. (Pre- Streaming) . Books are always 100,000-200,000 words long and you have to buy every one of them, up-front, before you know whether you’ll like the book of not. Streaming’s ‘pay as you go’ quality will certainly change the way we consume books, but could it change the way we write them as well? Apparently Charles Dickens’ cliff-hanging chapter climaxes came about because his early work was serialised, chapter by chapter, in newspapers (long before the chapters were assembled and packaged as full length novels). Dickens, that savvy Victorian marketeer, wanted to make sure that the last paragraph of the chapter left the reader aching for more and impatient to go out and by the next day’s edition of the newspaper. Let’s hope that Bardowl’s book streaming business sees to the end of the ‘flabby’ novel and self-indulgent authors and replaces them with a new generation of  Dickens’!