Riot Reviews Rooster, A New EReading App

Alison Peters

Staff Writer

Alison Peters surrounds herself with books, green things, animals and love. A Creative Writing M.F.A. holder with a day job that shall not be named, Alison is also working on a Masters in Library and Information Science. Currently cohabitating with her partner in the Northernmost outpost of San Francisco’s East Bay, she spends her spare time exercising her big dog so he won’t get annoyed with her, reading everything she can get her hands on, and then writing about it all. If you’re ever interested in discussing Harry Potter, Alison re-reads the series at least once a year, so drop her a line.

Three of us Rioters recently tried out the new Rooster ebook app, expressly to share our findings with you. And here are our thoughts:

I am not the target audience for Rooster, the app that lovingly pairs two books per month (classic and contemporary) and delivers them to your phone in digestible installments. The app is targeted towards people who haven’t read in a long time, who need to catch up on classics, who don’t have time or space to pull out a clunky (beautiful!) book on quick breaks from work, school, homelife. And, I am not generally an ebook fan.

But here’s the thing – I love Rooster. After downloading the app and starting my free two week trial, my train of thought went something like this:

– Hey! I’m excited to get two books per month, on my iPhone.
– Not so excited that I must enter my credit card info & remember to cancel before I’m billed for the free trial period. But then, it’s only (only??) $4.99 per month for two deliciously paired books, delivered in installments. Calendar reminder set-I’ve got my out and I’m all good.
– Upon first click, the app is pretty, clean and so easy to read & navigate.
– I love that they inject their own spin on ebooks by pairing them. I really do. And they give you the why’s! This could get insane!
– Ok-but the first selection (I Was Here, Rachel Kadish) does not thrill me. And that makes me wonder – what does thrill me? I pick books by authors I’ve read & loved, or heard of; books with a great title or cover I relate to in some psychic cover way; books that purport to be about something I really enjoy. Sailing? (reference to Billy Budd, Sailor, by Herman Melville, paired with I Was Here) not so much. Abuse of a young girl & unsolved crime? Eh.
Revelation: this is an app that relies on blind faith. Here I go.
– Got into the spirit of things by deciding to choose my page color settings (white, sepia, or grey) according to the feel of the book. I Was Here: white. Billy Budd, sepia.
– But that changed as soon as I started reading in the sun, on a ten minute work break. (So maybe I am the target group after all.) White text on grey background is perfect.
…I cannot stop reading this book…
– What is it about installments that makes you want more? Day one, I requested three more installments, which Rooster very graciously allowed. Friends wouldn’t be so ‘I told you so!’ free.
– I need to finish!

Here’s how this story ends: I finished I Was Here, looked up the author’s info online and emailed to thank her for such an engrossing novella.  I now trust the Roosters with supplying part of my reading addiction. I’m still hesitant to start Billy Budd, Sailor, but, again, blind faith.

I am recommending this app to anyone who will listen. And, as they’re located just down the street in San Francisco, some start-up-stalking might be in order. And finally, I completely ignored the reminder to cancel my free trial subscription. I am a Rooster for life.

Trying out Rooster was in many ways an adventure for me. I generally read books in print, while I tend to read a lot of news and shorter works on my phone or computer throughout the daily tumult of life. What immediately impressed me was the easy maneuverability. Rooster is rather user friendly, an app with the clear purpose of giving the busiest of people the opportunity to read during their day-to-day lives. It was easy to set up, and easy to start reading.

In general, I think what anyone can truly appreciate about Rooster is that it is providing another avenue to connect readers with a quality content, in a coalescence of contemporary and classic works. The fifteen minute installments were easy to read, and encouraged me to continue reading. However, I’d be interested in there being a feature that allowed me to choose the length of my installments, because for the same reasons I found it easy to continue reading, I also found it easy to put down. Part of this might have been due to me choosing to have my installments delivered in the morning, and when that time proved inconvenient after a few days, I would just write it off as fifteen minutes I could spare later and forget about it. Perhaps, a half hour installment would have been enough for me to fret about them adding up.

Overall though, I was delighted by how simple Rooster made it for me to read on my phone at times when I otherwise would’ve probably just surfed around on Twitter or Facebook. For anyone looking to find a way to fit reading into their hectic lifestyle, I think Rooster is definitely a quality purchase.

When I first heard about Rooster, I thought about it in much the same way that Alison did. At least, it started out that way.  I absolutely love the concept. I am a huge fan of the interface. I think it’s easy to use, and they’ve got the installment concept down perfectly, though I think Aram makes a good point about being able to choose the length of the installments. I also think that it will be a really good tool for getting folks who are little more than occasional readers to develop more of a reading habit. This is something that I definitely support.

Regular, dedicated readers, those that already know what they like, are going to have some problems with the app, though.  First, while they do a good job with their book selections, the fact that there is only one pair per month, is disappointing. I would have liked to have had 3 or 5 pairs to choose from. Or, perhaps, there could be genre specific pairs. I wouldn’t want to have too many choices, but I think only having one choice is too limiting.

I see great potential in using Rooster as a tool for bringing new readers into the fold. I just think that there’s going to have to be a bit more choice built in. There’s not just one road to being a reader. They’ve got to have more than one path to follow.

What about you, dear reader? Have you tried Rooster? How would you rate the new app?