DailyLit has been quietly growing since its launch in September of 2006 when it first brought serialized daily chunks of a handful of classic lit titles to your email inbox. Today of course you can subscribe to over 750 classic and contemporary books in your RSS reader (or email if that's your thing.) Today they launched "Wikipedia Tours" which will give you a daily walk-through of sweeping Wikipedia topics from Major World Religions, "Best Picture" Oscar Winners, and Wine 101.
The idea behind DailyLit is that more and more people are becoming habituated to read in blog-post style amounts, essentially articles, rather than long sessions with our latest novel. Rather than fighting that trend, you can bring the novel into the the way we read today. Novels rose to popularity in the days before electricity, radio, television and of course computers. They were designed to occupy several hours of a person's time over several evenings. Today, we aggregate numerous sources of content daily into a single source with the rise of the RSS reader.
I think this is a tool we need to look at seriously when developing new methods to engage young people in the learning process. The truth is reading for pleasure is down in the US across all age groups.
In an interview Mr. Gioia said that the statistics could not explain why reading had declined, but he pointed to several commonly accepted culprits, including the proliferation of digital diversions on the Internet and other gadgets, and the failure of schools and colleges to develop a culture of daily reading habits. In addition, Mr. Gioia said, “we live in a society where the media does not recognize, celebrate or discuss reading, literature and authors.” (New York Times, 11/19/07)
DailyLit could be a leader in the effort to bring traditional reading into modern formats. It's possible that this is something Amazon will pursue, though they appear pretty married to the Kindle approach. I think they've got the right idea by making its community features optional to those who chose to participate in the book discussions, while still allowing anyone to anonymously subscribe to any free feed of their choosing. For the Pay-Per-Read ones, that is books that are not yet in the public domain, you have to purchase the feed.
I've subscribed to two daily feeds from DailyLit to join my Google Reader staples, one classic novel and one Wikipedia tour:
(For anyone new to RSS readers, check out my favorite overview guys at CommonCraft's video: RSS in Plain English.)