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Serial Box is shifting the traditional novel format to accommodate the modern reader. By sending 150-character stories directly to people's phones, the US startup is creatively bringing engaging stories to increasingly busy consumers in easy-to-access short formats. We explore the insight behind the revival of serial media and understand how feeding people stories piece by piece caters to busy urbanites.

Serial Box is a startup publisher that calls itself the "HBO for reading" as it brings serialized stories to readers. The company will begin experimenting with a new way of delivering long stories in a series of short push notifications for users to read without even unlocking their phones. These stories are structured like a TV season, with around ten shorter episodes that cumulatively make up a season-length story, and push notifications sent out at specific times to mimic a TV schedule. On Microfiction Mondays, Serial Box app users will get the push notification with a 150-character story picked from a selection of more than 60 authors who already write for the platform. "The perfect bite-sized story for a busy afternoon filled with meetings, we hope these will provide a moment of fictional solace for our Serial Boxers," the company writes.

Serialized fiction is making a comeback Serialized fiction is making a comeback
Ali Morshedlou (2018) ©

People are increasingly time-poor, 45% of workers in the US feel that they don't have enough free time and without the extra hours to spare reading a book or watching a film, they are expecting brands to get creative with the entertainment they provide and how they present it. Considering that people’s attention spans are shortening and that they are increasingly relying on their phones for everything, Serial Box has seized an opportunity in providing exciting stories in a super-short and easy format.

This phenomenon of short burst media is already happening with video content – YouTube has exchanged its unskippable 30-second ads for six-second bumpers, Netflix commissioned Follow This, a 15-minute serialization of a documentary made by BuzzFeed News, while vending machines in France are dispensing short stories to commuters. Not only the entertainment industry is catering busy consumers through text, Jetblack helps busy mums  allowing them to buy via text at any time of the day.

Lucia Seoane-Pampin is a behavioural analyst at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. Born and raised in Spain, she loves experiencing different cultures and emotional expressions. She studied psychology and communications in Boston and has a master’s in digital & visual media.


20 Jul 18
3 min read

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