Tim Waterstone to launch a new digital books business with flat rate for all you can read

Waterstones founder to launch Spotify for books

It may seem an unlikely match, but the founder of Waterstones is turning to technology to revive the lost art of the Charles Dickens-style serialised novel.

By Katherine Rushton, Media, Telecoms and Technology Editor

6:00AM BST 11 Apr 2013

Tim Waterstone is to launch a new digital books business which aims to become the literary version of Spotify, charging readers a flat rate to access as much reading matter as they like online.

The project, Read Petite, will specialise in short stories and serialisations, following in the tradition of 19th Century novelists like Dickens, creator of Oliver Twist, and Vanity Fair author Anthony Trollope, who used to publish their novels chapter by chapter in newspapers and magazines.

Short stories have traditionally been very difficult to sell in paper form, but Mr Waterstone said they would be suited to commuters and other time-pressed bibliophiles.“It worked for Dickens and it worked for us. If you are going to read on a laptop, or a smartphone or a tablet, [a short story] is about as much as you want,” Mr Waterstone told The Daily Telegraph. “This is not slush pile publishing. There is an absolutely staggering treasure trove [of material] available.”

Read Petite will only publish works by authors who have already been picked up by traditional publishing house, although the material itself might be unpublished. Mr Waterstone said it has already unearthed little-known works by Brighton Rock author Graham Greene and Aldous Huxley, best known for his portrayal of a dystopian future in Brave New World.

Read Petite will launch towards the end of the year, and is likely to charge between £5 and £12 a month, said Mr Waterstone, who stepped down from his eponymous retail chain in 2001.

By comparison, subscribers to Spotify, the music streaming service, pay £9.99 for unlimited access without any interruptions from adverts. Alternatively, they can listen to an ad-funded version for free.

Mr Waterstone, who will be chairman of the new venture, co-founded Read Petite with literary agent peter Cox, Neill Denny, the former editor of The Bookseller magazine, and Martyn Daniels, founder of book supply chain specialist, Batch. The four men will have stakes in the business and are currently in talks with further individuals about additional funding.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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