Rooster Helps Busy People Read Good Fiction
Rooster is an ereading app that allows users to consume bite-sized pieces of highly curated fiction. Below we spoke with Yael Goldstein Love, co-founder and editorial director of Rooster.
How does Rooster work?
We try to bring immersive reading back into peoples' lives in three ways. First, we offer a highly curated selection of books to cut down on paralysis of choice. Right now, in fact, we offer only two titles a month -- one carefully chosen contemporary book paired with a classic work that we think offers an interesting counterpoint. Second, we present these works in short, satisfying installments that only take about 15 minutes to read. They're tailored to fit the length of your commute, your morning coffee break, or those minutes before bed. Finally, we let you set your own schedule. Installments arrive at those times of day when you actually have the time to read them.
What is the inspiration behind Rooster? What problem are you solving?
The idea for Rooster grew out a problem we were finding in our own lives. All of us on the team are avid readers. Not only that: most of us on the team are writers. But even so we were finding it increasingly rare that we read anything longer than a string of tweets or a blog post. It wasn't that we didn't want to be reading novels and other book-length works. It was that we didn't feel we had the time.
What free time we had came in these itty bitty bites -- maybe 30 minutes on our commute, or 15 minutes between two meetings, or 10 minutes before bed. None of that seemed long enough to tackle a whole book. It wasn't even long enough to figure out which book, among the thousands upon thousands published each year, we should be reading. We starting asking around, first informally and then in more formal market research polls, and the more we looked into it, the more general a problem this seemed to be. People don't feel they have the time to immerse themselves in a book anymore, and a lot of people miss that experience. We built Rooster to bring immersive reading, particularly fiction reading, back into busy peoples' lives.
Who is your competition?
Our hope is that we're taking the free time you already have and helping you to use it more meaningfully. We see our main competitors as those other activities you already use to fill that time: Mobile games, email, social media. Right now, those are the go-to activities for filling the small spaces in our busy days. We want to make short bursts of fiction the go-to activity instead. If we can do that for even a small fraction of smartphone users, we'll have created a much larger market of fiction readers than currently exists. And we think everyone in the book-tech and publishing ecosystem can benefit from that.
What are the most important trends in publishing, content production, and monetization strategies?
Right now the two big trends in reading technology are various subscription services (companies trying to build the Netflix for ebooks) and services that help you read more quickly. All of these are tackling the same problems we are: fitting more reading into peoples' lives. We think these are great approaches and where we differ is that we're thinking about a different segment of the population: people who don't currently read and wish they made time for slow, immersive reading in their lives.
Already we've seen great enthusiasm from our readers, many of whom tell us that they're reading fiction again for the first time in years. That makes us very happy. And we're excited to keep improving the service. We're eager to add different tracks in addition to the "contemporary" and "classic" tracks. We'll probably be adding sci-fi, mystery/thriller, perhaps romance. It'll still be a highly curated experience, just one with a little more choice built in. The second category of improvement we're really excited about is the various social reading features that will allow readers to integrate reading into their social lives in much the same way we currently integrate TV shows into our social lives.
Call us crazy, but we envision a future in which reading excellent fiction is as integral a part of the culture as watching the latest AMC or HBO show.