Thursday, December 15, 2011
Size Really Does Matter
For a long time, the length of a book was determined by how much it cost to print. Shorter works just weren't worth the investment by publishers. As a fantasy reader, I'd begun to notice a trend in recent years--it seemed the books were getting longer. Don't get me wrong. I love a good book no matter the length. But longer books require a bigger time investment, and sometimes I just don't have the time to commit that many hours to a book, no matter how awesome it is.
With the growing e-reader market and the increasing affordability of them, I think things are beginning to change. Book length no longer matters as much. In fact, I'm noticing that the shorter books and stories seem to do better than most novel-length pieces. I'm not surprised. I like shorter novels, both to read and write. They're usually faster-paced, they develop quicker, there's less backstory to slog through (not that all backstory requires slogging, but some of it really can drag). As a writer, I can get my work out to my readers quicker, I feel more accomplished, and I don't feel I have to fluff up a book just to meet specific word count requirements.
Another reason I'm very happy about this shift in length is that it opens up the world of reading to more people. Not everyone wants to sit down and read a 400-page book. They had to do it in high school and that was enough. But most of the people I know who do not call themselves readers are quite happy to spend an hour or two with a quick, fun, easy story that doesn't require more than a couple sittings to finish.
That means that maybe all is not lost on the literature front. There is a whole slew of people out there who don't consider themselves readers, but they're discovering the joys of short fiction. And that makes me very happy.
Does the length of a book matter to you? Does it affect how you choose your books?
Top Photo courtesy of Benchilada on Flickr.com
Kindle Photo courtesy of The Approximate Photographer on Flickr.com