Link Rot and Charles Dickens like subscriptions
#1  pittendrigh 10-07-2021, 02:27 PM
Charles Dickens made a living--at least in part--by selling serialized stories to 19th century newspapers. Each week said newspaper or magazine would print the next installment of his story. Eager readers bought the magazine in eager anticipation of the next Dickens installment.

Epub could do that. Epub3 includes the ability to use JavaScript making Epub more than just text and images. They are now or at least can be live computer programs.

An appropriately enhanced Epub could query a remote server at each startup, perhaps using an asynchronous query, to find out if an update is available. JavaScript cannot write to the local file system but it could pop up a dialog, asking the current reader if he or she wanted to download a newly enhanced Epub to replace the one they've recently been reading.

The Dickens subscription idea might be a little far-fetched. But a system like the above (asynchronous communication between Epub and remote server) could also be used to solve the generic "link rot" problem inherent with all documents containing links to external resources--of any kind.

Has anyone does this already? Made a live Epub that communicates externally? Behind the scenes?

#2  Quoth 10-07-2021, 03:18 PM
There ARE subscription ebook in episode services. Amazon has one.
Compared with a serial in a magazine or paper you are buying (or getting free on a web site) it's terrible.

Using javascript IN the ebook episode is a bad idea.

There are also tens of thousands of websites with serialised stories, free. It's easy to convert each episode to kindle or epub if you don't want to read in a browser.

Serialised stories still exist on print media. Usually the story is edited and published as a novel later (paper and ebook). The 44 Scotland Street series.

Also your idea doesn't solve link rot. Who ensures the remote server lives forever?

It's best that only front matter and rear matter of an ebook or a paper book has web links. They WILL die.

#3  gmw 10-07-2021, 06:57 PM
Even supposing people want to implement what you suggest, it's not immediately obvious that epub3 is the best solution.

To put that another way: If you must maintain an internet connection to serve the content, then why bother with the complexities of epub3? Why not use an app? Or why bother with any local content at all, just use a web page that can be accessed from any browser on any device rather than only to those with an advanced epub reader?

The link-rot thing I see as a misdirection. Anything that requires any sort of external connection is going to experience link-rot. To avoid it the solution is to not require an external connection, and we already have that. And, of course, link-rot is an end user problem, so it's hard to sell solutions to that to content providers. Quite the reverse, the attraction of subscriptions for content providers is that it locks a user into their service.

#4  AlanHK 01-24-2022, 06:49 PM
Quote pittendrigh
Has anyone does this already? Made a live Epub that communicates externally? Behind the scenes?
That seems pretty insecure and dangerous. Probably most reading apps would not allow it, so you'd probably need a custom app. So you might as well just have an app use something like RSS to download new chapters as normal epubs as they appear, like most podcast apps, rather than trying to get the epubs to bootstrap themselves "behind the scenes".

#5  Moonbase59 01-26-2022, 12:50 PM
I’d also recommend RSS and/or OPDS feeds.

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