In Japan novels are serialized for cell phone delivery and published as dead tree editions only after they are hits. John Rice has a great post on on this at his Educational Games Research blog.
While this works because of Japan’s rather unique commuting environment the central point that any reading helps build fluency is well taken. Here is the money quote:
“It boils down to literacy events in the life of a child. The exposure to text, in whatever venue, increases the reading and writing skills of children. If children read a book, a comic book, or the story line in a videogame, they are reading. And that makes all the difference.”
This novel approach hits on two interesting themes. First, it takes advantage of the new format rather than trying to shoehorn the old way of doing things into the new platform. Publishers have worked hard to recreate the book experience on-line with very limited success. I would argue that this innovation is the reverse – making an on-line experience into a book, which is why it works.