Rooster: a solution in search of a problem
March 19, 2014 | 1:08 pm
By Juli Monroe
Susan announced Rooster here last week, and I’ve been using the service for the two-week trial period. My title probably tips you off to my opinion.
A quick recap. Rooster is an iPhone app that will send short, timed installments to readers who are on the go. Each month there are two stories available, and users select which one they want pushed to them. Yes, you can finish one story and then move on to the next.
I’m just not convinced it’s worth $4.99 a month for a service which pushes out short pieces of a story. I will admit that I’m probably not their target audience, and that colors my thoughts.
I don’t have a problem remember to read throughout the day. So sending reminders to me is of no value. I’m a voracious reader, so $4.99 a month for two books, which I may or may not like, is not a compelling proposition. My iPhone is my last choice of reader, so the current single-platform element of the service is off-putting. (Did anyone else notice the image on their homepage of someone reading on what I think is an iPad Mini?)
Incidentally, I wasn’t crazy about either choice this month. Melville is not a writer I enjoy so I skipped Billy Budd, and I couldn’t get into the other story, I Was Here (not yet on sale). It appears as if they are appealing to the literary fiction crowd, and I’m not one of those. I did read that they are considering adding genre fiction, which is probably a good move.
The app is a functional reader. There are two choices of font, three themes and a font size slider that should meet anyone’s needs. Nothing fancy, but then this is never going to be anyone’s main reading app.
What about the pushing of bite-sized content? I found it distracted me from reading because I was too aware of the limit. Yes, you can download the next installment when you finish the current one, but it’s not the same as getting immersed in a book. Again, the service isn’t aimed at immersion, and I get that, but it distracted me. I keep a short story anthology on my reader if I need something quick to read on the go, and that approach works better for me.
Oh, and it’s set up to keep you on one book at a time. To switch, you have to “suspend” the other title. It’s easy enough to switch, but there are a couple of extra steps involved.
Obviously, it’s not for me. Nor do I think it’s a good value. For $8.99 or $9.95, you can subscribe to Scribd or Oyster and have access to a much larger library. With Rooster, if you don’t like either month’s offering, you’re stuck. $4.99 a month is too much to be stuck with duds.