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Old 12-31-2010, 08:44 PM   #1
DavidKitson
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What is the optimal E-reader story size?

Hi All,

Just thinking of this and I know the answer is going to be different things to different people, but what is the preferred size and to a smaller extent, style of E-reader publications?

Do you prefer short, quick-to-read stories that you can complete while waiting for a bus/train/waiting-for-dinner?

Something longer, but finished in an hour or two?

Or does the draw of a longer story that takes you deep into another world provide the most enjoyment?

Please note that I'm not asking about the size of story you enjoy, but the size of story you find most convenient to read on an e-reader?

I'm also interested in opinions of chapters length as much if it's relevant, but it's a pretty open question so any answer is probably correct - Opinions are great also -

If there are links to other threads on this subject or close to it, please let me know.



Thanks
David.
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Old 12-31-2010, 09:04 PM   #2
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Seemingly reading habits don't change when someone is switching from pBooks to eBooks. For the last 10-15 years, the trend has been "the more pages the better". So I think most readers do prefer long novels.

There have been quite some discussions if eBooks will lead to a renaissance of short(er) stories. For mainstream (readers and publishers) I wouldn't count on it. On the other hand eBooks are not bound (literally) to any format sizes, so a 10 page story is as good for me as one with 1000. Today short stories are likely to find their audience rather in online shops than in bookstores.

So, there isn't any optimal length IMHO. Let the stories be as long (or short) as necessary.
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Tom
So, there isn't any optimal length IMHO. Let the stories be as long (or short) as necessary.
Ditto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Kitson
Please note that I'm not asking about the size of story you enjoy, but the size of story you find most convenient to read on an e-reader?
The ereader/ebook is the convenience... regardless of the story's size. I prefer books that have just the right amount of words necessary to properly tell the story.

Last edited by DiapDealer; 12-31-2010 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:11 PM   #4
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I agree, I don't think there is an optimal length on an ereader. I do find that it is more convenient to read very long books on an ereader than on paper, because they are easier to hold. (A 1300 page book over 2.5 inches thick is a pain in the... hand.)
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Thom View Post
Seemingly reading habits don't change when someone is switching from pBooks to eBooks.
Mine did

While the length of a book doesn't affect my enjoyment, longer paper books were more likely to be pushed aside to my to-be-read pile...not only were they less convenient to carry but the size presented a mental block that would prevent me from wanting to get started.

I find with ebooks I am no longer deterred by the size of the book and just as likely to read a longer novel as a shorter one.

So to answer the question, I don't have an optimal e-reader story size..in fact having my books electronic makes the size more ubiquitous.

Last edited by Boston; 12-31-2010 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:17 PM   #6
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I try to aim for the 300-400 page range as I have found with longer books they tend to waffle in the middle to increase the page count. I have remarked a few times after finishing a 500-600 page book that the story could have been shortened by 100 pages or so with no loss to the storyline.
I reckon authors think that longer is better rather than providing a shorter,sharper story.
The Dome comes to mind(approx 800 pages) and my workmate who took ages to read it said he almost quit it twice
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:52 AM   #7
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My reading habits are the same with paper books and e-books.
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tech_au View Post
The Dome comes to mind(approx 800 pages) and my workmate who took ages to read it said he almost quit it twice
Agreed. Had The Dome in paper and e-book format. Would go back and forth. Never finished it for various reasons. Lots of filler and had other books beckoning.

My sweet spot is around 325-400 pages.
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Old 01-01-2011, 09:27 AM   #9
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As others have said the best length of a story is determined by the story itself, not by the technology. However, I have recently read Haruki Murakami's new novel 1Q84 (Vol. 1 & 2) which has about 1,000 pages as hardcover on my reader. It was unbelievably convenient to be able to just slip that story on my reader into the pocket of my jacket and to be able to read it at any opportunity. It would certainly have taken me much longer to complete it if it had been the hardcover version, as I wouldn't have lugged that massive book around.
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:12 AM   #10
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I agree mostly with what has been posted above. I don't think an ereader has really affected my reading habits. I still find myself reading the same types of books. It is nice though to not have to tote around an 850 page fantasy book any more.
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:24 AM   #11
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I tend to prefer longer stories. If something is labeled a short story or a novella, I almost always bypass it. I like the longer form -- in both p and e books -- because if the story and the characters are well done, I don't feel as if I just started to become engrossed with them to have the book end.

OTOH, because of the abundance of free and very inexpensive ebooks, I have less patience with an ebook than with a pbook. The writing, characters, and story need to grab my interest within the first 30 or so pages or I delete the ebook from my reader and never go back to it again (with the huge TBR pile I have, there seems to be no reason to give a book or author a second or third chance).
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:29 AM   #12
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I like enormously long books, and eBook readers are great for that!
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Old 01-01-2011, 11:19 AM   #13
DavidKitson
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Thankyou for all the responders and the discussion. This is actually quite a departure from what I expected to find... I guess I hear some writers saying "130K pages max" so often, it had started to sink in.

It's not that longer stories don't get written, but when I speak to those authors they all seem to feel that long stories are a problem. I wonder if it's related more to the publisher reticence to publish longer stories from new writers that is behind it?

I'd hate to think of anyone writing a story and aiming at a specific length. I agree that a story is finished when it is finished. For a long time, I was quite worried about my own story being about 20% over "optimum".

I never really stopped to fully consider some of the arguments you've put forward for simply writing the story to the length it needs to be written to.

But it is good to hear -

Though with talk of pages, it does make me wonder... I would have thought pages were somewhat obsolete in the e-reader world. I take it I'm wrong there and that people still think in terms of pages, even with an e story?

Regards,
David
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Old 01-01-2011, 11:57 AM   #14
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Since ereaders can accomodate all sizes it really doesn't matter. I personally prefer long reads whether as a paperback or an ebook.
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Old 01-01-2011, 12:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidKitson View Post
It's not that longer stories don't get written, but when I speak to those authors they all seem to feel that long stories are a problem. I wonder if it's related more to the publisher reticence to publish longer stories from new writers that is behind it?
Publishers used to charge a bit more for long books than shorter books, I don't think they would get away with that for ebooks. So it will be a financial decision more than anything else. Long books will need more editing time.
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