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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Paper Doll Tells You A Story...Bit by Bit

Paper Doll certainly does love to read. When you love reading (books, magazines, newspapers, love letters, cereal boxes, etc.), it can be hard to avoid building up clutter -- papers expand beyond the set boundaries of shelves and cabinets and take on lives of their own. In the past, I've written multiple posts about how to keep book clutter at bay, including:

Reducing Book Clutter (Part 1): Book Rentals for Grownups

Reducing Book Clutter (Part 2): Book Rentals for Kids
Reducing Book Clutter (Part 3): Trading Books Online
Reducing Book Clutter (Part 4): Borrowing & Returning -- A Library Love Letter
Reducing Book Clutter (Part 5): Electronic Books
Reducing Book Clutter (Part 6): Audio Books

To satisfy my frugal nature, I tend to read library books, but have also taken a foray into the worlds of electronic books on the Kindle and audio books on CDs and MP3s. But there's another clutter-free way to enjoy books when you want to save space, money and time.

Dripread is an app that turns any book into a drip...drip...drip... of knowledge. The steps are simple:

1) Create a free account. (You can choose to skip this step, but then you may only receive readings from books already in the Dripread library.) Subscriptions are free.

2) Select a book or upload a digitized version of one of your own. Uploaded ebooks must be in the EPub format, but as we've discussed previously, you can use the free ebook format translation software Calibre to get your non-EPub ebooks Dripread-ready.

Dripread's library is filled with classic titles in the public domain, in genres ranging from adventures and mysteries to romances and science fiction. While Dripread's collections lean heavily toward fiction, non-fiction books include a growing selection of science and history titles, as well as offerings on finance, self-improvement and language study.

That's it -- just sign up and pick a book. Dripread then emails you one page of your book each day, and you can absorb it in bite-sized chunks. Of course, if you enjoy what you're reading and want more, just click the "next installment" link in each email. The system knows where you left off and immediately sends the next reading. But if one page is all you need or want, you're assured of making tiny bits of progress each day.

One page per day? Are you aghast at how anyone could survive on only one page a day? Or are you wondering if you could realistically squeeze a whole page of reading into your already-busy schedule?

No matter how much one might love reading, modern life makes it hard to snuggle under a blanket and read for hours on end. Dripread's service is designed for those who are truly at a loss for personal reading time, like busy parents of toddlers, or those who just can't quite get back to a book in between other projects, finding themselves revisiting a title months after starting it, unable to recall the relationships between characters.

Although a voracious reader, Paper Doll never did make it through Anna Karenina. I tried, summer after summer, with no excuse, but just couldn't fall into the book. Perhaps taking that tome one page at a time might be an awfully long slog, but sometimes it's easier to spend a moment reading an email than weeks trying to drag yourself back to a heavy classic with heavy Russian names. Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky and Princess Darya Alexandrovna Oblonskaya might be easier to embrace one page at a time.

If the idea of a just one percolated drip of a story at a time sounds familiar, you might recall that we've discussed this process before.

DailyLit is another free service which breaks down books into smaller installments (though not quite as tiny as one-page chunks) and emails them to you to read at your convenience. DailyLit readings can be viewed wherever you read your email: on your computer, smart phone or PDA, and if you prefer, readings can be sent via RSS instead of email.

DailyLit snippets are designed to take about five minutes to read, though you can change your settings to receive one, two or four installments at a time. Pick from a list of banned books or explore a field of study that's new to you, like the Wikipedia Tour of Greek Mythology.

You get to choose how many installments you wish to read each day -- for example, schedule the emails to pop in at 10a, 2p and 4:30p, to break up the monotony of a heavy workday without taking a jaunt to the break room or coffee cart. Fewer calories, greater enlightenment!

You can also have more installments sent right away, whenever you like, if you encounter a part of the story that's really getting good. Click "send me the next installment immediately" at times when you can read more: in line at the DMV, waiting for a delayed train, or needing to look like you're checking important messages when a VIP has left you in a lobby, cooling your heels.

Although registering for an account isn't required if you merely want to read books, doing so allows you to participate in discussion forums -- which helps you to experience the equivalent of a book club without ever having to clean your house or make book-themed appetizers. Having an account also lets you rank and review books and manage any book lists you'd like to create. Once you've created an account, you can sign in via Facebook, Twitter, Google, Open ID or whatever new identification authorization system gets invented in the coming weeks.

DailyLit has a larger assortment of titles that Dripread, including titles in the public domain, as well as those covered by Creative Commons and others under copyright, sponsored by advertisers. Browse books by title, author, category or release date to find whatever you hanker to read. I was surprised and delighted to find that DailyLit included twenty installments from Lisa Kogan's hysterical Someone Will Be With You Shortly: Notes From a Perfectly Imperfect Life, a series of essays I'd just finished in paperback.

Dear Reader is a slightly different kind of installment reading plan. Suzanne Beecher, a novelist, sends daily excerpts of new fiction to subscribers to her service. You can sign up for one or more of her "book clubs" by linking through your own public library system or directly, if your library does not participate. Book clubs, or general categories of interest, include fiction, non-fiction, teen, business, romance, "good news", science fiction, mysteries, thrillers, classics, and audio books.

The idea isn't for readers to read entire books over email, but to develop a taste as to whether a book might appeal to them. You indicate the genre(s) you prefer, and Suzanne selects and emails a daily five-minute snippet to whet your literary appetite.

Dear Reader's mini-forums encourage a shared spirit of affection for reading, and charmingly, the site includes a recipe exchange (because, as we all know, it's so tempting to nosh while we read).

@ 2011 Sue H. of IRefuseToGoQuietly

Tiny bits of books. It's a little ironic that these novel (no pun intended) services are actually not all that novel. In the 1800s, full-length novels were too expensive for most Victorian-era readers to purchase, so books were often serialized in newspapers, so that followers of the stories got chapters in smaller (more affordable) installments. Indeed, when Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop was published, fans of the book in New York City, who had not yet received the latest installments, reportedly rushed to the piers to ask sailors arriving from England, "Is Little Nell alive?"

There's something to be said for a slow sampling of a good book, for a delightful savoring of a story, bit by bit. For those of us who tend to gobble our literary preferences, the drip...drip...drip...of a story over time might uplift the spirit, and for those who can never find time to stick with a book, slow samplings might just ensure that a book is read from "cover to cover", even when the only cover in sight is a laptop bag.

Would tiny email or RSS installments of books help you read a little bit more? Readers, what say you?

posted on: 10/4/2011 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by dava on 10/4/2011 10:59:45 AM:

Thanks, Paper Doll! I've been trying to convince myself to read more educational books, but read for entertainment and relaxation so lean heavily toward fluffy fiction. An account with Dripread or Dailylit might be just the thing to make learning a part of my day without sacrificing my fun fiction!

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 10/4/2011 11:22:02 PM:

Thanks, Dava! Please feel free to try both out and then come back to comment on how they worked for you. (That goes for the rest of you readers, too!)

by Janet Barclay on 10/5/2011 7:17:07 AM:

I think DripRead or DailyLit would be a great way to read business books, or anything that you want to read a bit and put it into action rather than just devouring mass amounts of information at once. It could also be good for fiction, for people who need to budget their reading time!

by Iphone 5 on 10/13/2011 10:01:48 PM:

Wonderful submit. I'm struggling with several these issues.

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

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