Serial novels are making a comeback.

In fact, almost every book publisher plans to offer a variety of new serialized fiction this year – where books are published like a TV show, in weekly or monthly “installments,” and where each installment ends with a cliffhanger. For example:

  • Amazon has put out more than 30 serialized novels through their new Kindle Serials program. And they plan to add a new book serial every week.

  • Also, Penguin Books is testing a new line of serialized romance novels.

  • And the science-fiction publisher Tor recently put out a 13-part weekly serial called “The Human Division,” which is on the best-seller lists.

Experts say serials haven’t been this hot since the 19th century, when famous writers like Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy got their start writing serials for monthly periodicals. And it turns out, we can thank the growing number of people using digital tablets and e-readers for making serials “cool” again. Because today, it’s easy to sign up for a serial, and have fresh installments download automatically – as they come out. Plus, unlike a book, serials tend to be short enough that you can read them in one sitting.

Some writers even say they prefer writing serials over books, because serials give them a chance to test new characters and plot ideas. And if a character doesn’t catch on after one or two installments, they won’t waste their time writing a whole book about them.

Also know this: Research shows that we’re more likely to pay for entertainment that comes in short, “bite-size” portions – whether it’s music, TV shows, or eBooks. That’s because we want stuff that’s easy to load onto our digital devices, and take it with us on-the-go.