At first glance, this story about how Netflix is changing the nature of how Hollywood thinks about TV doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with e-books. But if you take a second look, you might notice how the service’s “celestial jukebox” nature lines up with the instant gratification and format freedom of e-books. There’s some interesting symmetry there.

E-books made it possible to sell shorter-form works like novellas, short stories, or feature-length articles on their own as “Kindle Singles” or equivalent formats. They also allow consumers to “binge” on series if they’re all available, getting around the old problem of how you can sell Book #10 in a print bookstore when books #1 through #9 may be impossible to find.

And Netflix is doing something similar for television. It’s creating its own original series, and prompting studios to think seriously about creating series specifically for them. Direct-to-Netflix might be the new direct-to-video. And even shows made for first-run network or cable television are being affected, as studios are realizing that Netflix subscribers can easily binge to catch up on their favorite shows at any time, so they don’t have to worry about serialized dramas not lending themselves to reruns on network TV anymore.

Electronic media are changing the way we consume both print and visual media. It’s kind of neat to think about. I still think there ought to be a “Netflix for books,” though.


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