Serialized eBooks via RSS


I just had an idea for a system where you could choose any one of the public domain eBooks out there and have a small chunk delivered daily via RSS. Many of us are too busy to read classic books out there, instead choosing "page turners" or books that are more applicable to our every day lives (like a some new marketing book). But we do have time to zip through our aggregator daily, right? So by taking a 500 page novel and distributing it, a few pages at a time, via RSS, we could read a new book in a month or so without even trying.

With that theory in mind, I added a new feature to Mobdex. You can now subscribe serially to any of the ebooks there. Simply find a book, note it's ID number, then subscribe to the RSS feed like this:

The ID can be anything, but because I'm not checking for duplicates or want to deal with a registration process, it's better to use something unique like your email or something secret yet unique. This RSS will return the first "page" of text in that book to your RSS aggregator. If the first few pages are gobbledygook (as Project Gutenberg books sometimes are) or you want to go back a few "pages", simply reset the counter (which increments +1 "page" per day you've checked the site) by appending a "page" parameter like "&page=12".

And if you're a speed reader and want the pages to be updated more frequently, add an "interval" parameter in minutes. This would produce another page for my aggregator every couple of hours:

Pretty cool, huh? Now look, there's caveats: I just slapped this thing together, so it's 1) slow and 2) maybe buggy and 3) doesn't have any intelligence where it cuts a page off (besides not cutting a word in half). I'm just sort of playing with the idea. I just subscribed to Around The World in 80 Days (#116)... we'll see if I actually work through it.

What do you think?


Update: I've added a "size" parameter now so you can determine how much text you want to read per day. It's literally in bytes (from 1000 to 100000) so you can determine how much of a "page" you want to see daily. It defaults to 8000.

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