As an update to Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon has announced Kindle Serials, an installment-based e-reader publishing program. The system will let buyers pay once for a piece of ongoing fiction, then receive further chapters for free; the launch price for all installments of each title is $1.99. To start things off, Amazon will be republishing works by Charles Dickens, one of the best-known serial authors. Dickens is already in the public domain and books like Oliver Twist are offered for free on Kindle now, so it appears only the new titles will cost money.
While serials have a storied history, Amazon is billing the platform as a way for authors to build their fiction while taking reader feedback into account (something that, once again, also happened in Dickens' time.) For readers, it's a way to get new material without looking for and buying it separately, since new sections will be added automatically. Based on what we've seen, the first serials will be crowd-pleasing genre titles, including a series called Hacker Mom and Downward-Facing Death, which apparently is in fact a "yoga murder mystery."