Get All Access for $5/mo

New E-Reader App Hatches a Clever Plan to Get You to Actually Read The just-launched Rooster app, inspired by episodic television, aims to boost fiction readership by parsing out books in convenient and immersive installments.

By Geoff Weiss

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It seems oddly poetic that a team of female entrepreneurs is hatching a plot to upend the e-reader industry with a brand new iPhone app called Rooster.

And the world of literary fiction -- digital or otherwise -- is one in desperate need of upending. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, in 2012, less than half of American adults had read at least one work of literature.

This is largely due to a consumption format unbefitting today's tech-obsessed, time-pressed reader, says Rooster's co-founder and CEO, Jennifer Lee.

Much in the same way that episodic television has emerged as a preferable medium over film in recent years, Lee believes that the literary world should follow suit.

Related: 5 Must-Read Books For Every Entrepreneur

Rooster's main point of difference is that it serializes works of fiction and delivers readers 15-minute installments at a time -- not unlike a TV series. Perused during a morning commute or over a coffee break, for example, the aim is to make reading a more seamless part of everyday life.

Rather than formulaic rationing, however, each episode has been carefully crafted to suit the pace of a larger narrative, Lee said.

Mimicking an antiquated medium

New E-Reader App Hatches a Clever Plan to Get You to Actually Read
Screenshots of the app.
Image credit: Rooster

While Lee calls the novel an artifact of the printing generation, many existing e-reader apps merely mimic the age-old structure on modern devices. She calls Rooster "what the reading experience would look like if it were designed from scratch today."

A serialized approach is bound to impact the content of works as well, Lee said -- for the better. Whereas contemporary literary fiction has tended to be more quiet and contemplative, serialized delivery forces structure and action.

Related: Could Your Future Smartphone Help You Read Faster?

Rooster will commission authors to write with this in mind. Its authors must also aim to persistently engage readers who face a barrage of texts, emails and other onscreen notifications, she added.

One contemporary work and one classic selection will be curated each month by Rooster's lit-obsessed founders, including editorial director Yael Goldstein Love, who is a novelist herself.

The current pool of writers includes National Book Award and Pen/Hemingway Award winners, and Pulitzer Prize finalists. Launching this week, Rooster is priced at $4.99 per month and is thus far only available on iPhones.

An evolving format

Serialized fiction initially proliferated in Victorian England, and then quickly spread across the globe, where works including The Three Musketeers, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina and Sherlock Holmes all debuted in piecemeal installments.

Related: E-Reading Startup Oyster Raises $14 Million

At the time, books were considered a luxury item, so serialization in newspapers and magazines emerged as an inexpensive way to garner rabid readership.

Throughout the 1930s, the form began to wane with the rise of radio and TV. This was also around the same time that paperback books began to rock the publishing industry.

Yet Lee cited the binge-worthy House of Cards -- dispensed in its own groundbreaking format -- as evidence that consumers may be hungering for a similarly addictive delivery structure for books.

"To us city kids, a Rooster was a symbol of healthful, invigorating daily rhythms," said Goldstein Love. And if Rooster can indeed bring the same devoted masses to the world of literature on a habitual basis, it would certainly be something to crow about.

Related: Report: Amazon Developing Way for Stores to Use Kindle at Checkout

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick


ChatGPT is Becoming More Human-Like. Here's How The Tool is Getting Smarter at Replicating Your Voice, Brand and Personality.

AI can be instrumental in building your brand and boosting awareness, but the right approach is critical. A custom GPT delivers tailored collateral based on your ethos, personality and unique positioning factors.

Business News

Apple Reportedly Isn't Paying OpenAI to Use ChatGPT in iPhones

The next big iPhone update brings ChatGPT directly to Apple devices.

Business News

Is the AI Industry Consolidating? Hugging Face CEO Says More AI Entrepreneurs Are Looking to Be Acquired

Clément Delangue, the CEO of Hugging Face, a $4.5 billion startup, says he gets at least 10 acquisition requests a week and it's "increased quite a lot."

Business News

You Can Now Apply to Renew Your U.S. Passport Online — But There's a Catch

The U.S. State Department officially launched the beta program this week.

Business News

Sony Pictures Entertainment Purchases Struggling, Cult-Favorite Movie Theater Chain

Alamo Drafthouse originally emerged from bankruptcy in June 2021.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.