After writing that post yesterday I went around reading a bit about long books and I came across two interesting articles.
One article (from the Millions) discusses the (classic) long novels and how we are kept within that world by the autor giving us tiny goodies in between pages and pages of “hard stuff. This article could be used to depict the difference I tried to point to in the last post. There is a difference (at least in my mind) between a ginormous book (Bolano, Dumas, Hugo, Tolstoy, Joyce, George Eliot…) and a book that goes on and on and on in separate volumes (Twilight, City of Glass, Gemma Doyle series) or books that deal with the same plot from different points of view (McGuire’s Beautiful series). The big books offer a “closed world”, a complete world with one plot (or a series of interconnected plots) that drives the narration forward (or around as is the case with Joyce), but the long-ass-multi-volumes are often just recycled shit (pardon my French). Case in point – the Beautiful series – the first book was very good in my opinion. It gave us a herione who was not afraid to stand her ground, and a romantic interest who was tough but also passionate and driven. In the secon installment we get to see things from the guy’s point of view, and it’s such romantic drivel that I could barely read it. It left a sad aftertaste in my mouth. I felt bad about the guy, it was a disservice to him as a character. It also made me feel that the author simply wrote it to fill her pockets. And that point is what bugs me as a reader! There are so many good books being published, but the public will much rater buy a shit sequel to an average book than an excellent new book or new author!
The second article (from Smashwords) analyses a poll done on consumer trends when buying books. It shows how the lengt of the novel influences it’s sales.In this age of economic despair (Croatia for instance has been experiencing a SEVEN YEAR long crisis!) buyers want more for their money – so it would be logical that if you want to spend only 10euro on a book, you’ll buy the longer one. REading this makes me feel that we’ve hit consumer/capitalist bottom. How in the hell can you make a decision on a book based on it’s page count! I don’t get it, but then again, I don’t smoke, so my budget for books is a bit larger than other people’s.
All in all, the book business today is exactly that – a business. As long as long books sell, the little book will have to wait for it’s turn (or depend on new types of marketing – through social media sites and the like) and readers should practice lifting weights.