eBook publisher looks to revive serial model

The Saturday morning serial model of the 1950s may be long dead in the film world, but a new eBook publisher is looking to bring it back in a more modern form. Abby grace

Backlit is producing a string of Young Adult fiction in eBook form, recruiting Hollywood writers to pen the tales, which invariably end with a cliffhanger. It’s a model that, if it works, not only guarantees a fairly predictable revenue stream, but has caught the eye of producers.

Jack Giarraputo of Happy Madison has secured a first look film and television deal with the company, which currently offers two series – Borrowing Abby Grace and The Start-Up – and has two more queued up.

Prices are kept low intentionally. Borrowing Abby Grace and The Start-Up cost $2.99 per ‘episode’ with a word count of 20,000-30,000 words. That’s about 1/5 the size of a Twilight novel. (One upcoming series, entitled, The Dig, will charge $6.99 for a 60,000-80,000 word episode.) To ensure the material connects with its audience, Backlit has recruited Hollywood writers who have a track record of appeal to the demographic. (All authors write under pseudonyms to protect their day jobs.)

“There’s kind of a renaissance in reading these days,” says founder Panio Gianopoulos. “Teenagers today read more words per day than any generation before them. Of course, they’re reading Facebook and Twiter and text messages, but they’re not opposed to reading books.”

The serial formula is no stranger to print, either, but hasn’t seen a lot of success since Steven King revived it with The Green Mile.

The goal, of course, is to see these series expand to other mediums, but Gianopoulos declined to discuss whether Giarraputo has picked up any options yet. However, he said, “We think the eBook is the perfect way to create a television model for our series.”