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Old 10-19-2008, 03:36 PM   #16
Elsi
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I dislike short stories for the most part. That's because I've barely gotten to know and like the characters and suddenly it's over. So, I am willing to read a series of short stories with the same characters. It's the enjoyment of the characters that keeps me reading books in series and will tip the scale to a longer book rather than a shorter one -- more time to spend with my literary friends.
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Old 10-19-2008, 03:40 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by GatorDeb View Post
It takes a lot for me to buy a book that is less than 250 pages. I love 400+ page books. Fiction, non-fiction, it doesn't matter. The way I figure I get twice the value from a $10 500-page book than from a $10 250-page book. That doesn't always hold if I like the book enough, but it is a heavy consideration. If I'm on the fence whether to buy it or not, long books tip it over to buying them.

How about you?
Honestly? The day I consider length as a factor in buying a book is the day I'll have lost all critical faculties and should be placed in an Assisted Reading facility with round-the-clock care.

The book should be as long as is required to tell the story, period. It's the quality of the story that is critical, not how long it takes to tell it.

Technical factors have often influenced this: in the old days, paperbacks were often limited to 60 or 70 thousand words because publishers were trying to keep prices down, and limited length to what would fit in a given number of pages. There were also various requests to "bulk up" stories (like expanding a novella to a full length novel) because the publisher feared readers would be less likely to buy a shorter book for which the publisher would have to charge the same price. How successful these efforts were varied. (And there are lots of examples where it was obvious the writer was paid by the word...)

eBooks have changed this equation, as the technical factors governing length largely don't exist.
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Old 10-20-2008, 02:36 AM   #18
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Old 10-20-2008, 07:58 AM   #19
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Yes, I tend to buy big books instead of small ones.
I like to spend a lot of time with the characters before the story ends.
The quality is of course important, but it's a subjective matter and it's hard to judge quickly.
I tend to buy big books that made it into a series, it means they mustn't be that bad
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Old 10-20-2008, 10:48 AM   #20
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I don't like short stories. I like long books. For a stand alone book probably 400+ pages at least. Less than 300 and I am not interested at all. Although it has absolutely nothing to do with $ per page value. Ideally, I prefer trilogies and longer.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:11 AM   #21
Ralph Sir Edward
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My preferred length is the novella, which is not really well-defined, but I define as 25 to 50K words. I also like short stories as well. I've read too many "bloatware novels" to be impressed by length.

Now I admit some stories take much more than that, and I don't complain. But those are a lot fewer than the bookshelves suppose.

This gets into time problems. I read at around 350-400 word per minute, so I can read a novella in 1-2 hrs. An evening entertainment. But I have many things to do in my life, and a 250,000 novel takes me around 10 hrs, or a week's reading. I rarely have a week to block off for a long novel, too many other things intrude, often thing beyond my control. So the novella has taken center stage in my reading world (or a couple of short stories). Besides, there are some really great novellas out there.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:13 AM   #22
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I love short stories, and a 600 page collection of short stories is my favorite kind of book. I also like the magazines (Asimov's, FSF, etc) because they are short stories, but those are small books. I like short stories for the opposite reason as Elsi, in that I can read a story in one or two sessions, and then move on. Time is tight, and if I ever get an extended reading period, say an hour, I invariably fall asleep a couple of pages into the story. Maybe this is why I prefer short stories?

So I guess I'm all over the place with this question. However, it was very interesting to read all of the responses. We all have our love of reading in common, but seem to each have a specific type of book that we prefer for particular reasons.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:22 AM   #23
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Besides, there are some really great novellas out there.

True, and unfortunately, unless they get collected into a "Year's Greatest" type book, they sometimes disappear forever. On the other hand, some of them go on to be immortal, such as "I, Robot." On the third hand, some of the short stories and novellas flesh out the peripheral parts of larger books or series, like The Dark Tower, for instance. I've got a big 1000 page collection called Legends, and it has a story about The Little Sisters of Elutheria, a group of vampire nun/nurses who worship cockroaches. Couldn't stretch it into a full length book, but it's a great, fast-paced read.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:32 AM   #24
Ralph Sir Edward
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True, and unfortunately, unless they get collected into a "Year's Greatest" type book, they sometimes disappear forever. On the other hand, some of them go on to be immortal, such as "I, Robot." On the third hand, some of the short stories and novellas flesh out the peripheral parts of larger books or series, like The Dark Tower, for instance. I've got a big 1000 page collection called Legends, and it has a story about The Little Sisters of Elutheria, a group of vampire nun/nurses who worship cockroaches. Couldn't stretch it into a full length book, but it's a great, fast-paced read.
That is the nice thing about non DRM'ed e-books. I can "break up" a big collection and keep the ones I want...
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:55 AM   #25
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I like all lenghts of stories. I love a well crafted short story (I think they are harder to do well than a novel) and I will savor a good novel like a fine steak or bowl of New England Clam Chowder.

Many of the long books referenced here (and a lot more that are too bad to mention) seem to be in the class where the writer was paid by the word. I have read five page short stories that were six pages too long and thousand page novels that were far too short (ok, not too short but I would have been happy to read another thousand pages just as well crafted.)
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:56 AM   #26
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For those of you who don't like short stores, may I suggest, if you haven't already, reading Stephen Kings little gem
"Nightshift"?
Written in his early, and best years, (IMHO) these stories blew me away.........short, yes, they really sock a punch!

Just a suggestion....
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:02 PM   #27
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Since I think that there is a book-experience (as in experience of the entity that is one book) and I want that experience it is always better to read 2 good books instead of 1. So I can pay more for a good short book since that will enable me to read more books and have more of the book-experience.
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:55 PM   #28
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I like books (fiction or non-fiction) of all lengths, but I don't like "bloated" books. Very long books often feel to me like they just drag on, without adding any new value in terms of plot, character development, world-building, etc. If they really are well written, that's great, but sadly, many are not.

Although I appreciate the argument that novels or collections of short stories are enjoyable partly because we can spend more time with favorite characters, I've read some really excellent short-short fiction (e.g. in the collection Sudden Fiction) that was well worth reading.
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:35 PM   #29
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What a dreadful concept, that a book should be judged by its length. Quality, not quantity, is what counts.
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Old 10-20-2008, 03:07 PM   #30
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Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard was way too long by at least 1/2. It could have ended in a number of places. But it just went on and on way too long.
In my opinion that was a book too long by its number of pages - 1. The cover would have been enough for it, no need for text

Regarding length of novels - it is author and genre dependent. As a general rule, the more bestselling the author the longer the book - or maybe better put, long books from bestselling authors only, all the others need to split a long story in volumes, though there are bestselling authors that do moderate length novels too.

Similarly fantasy - long books, romance and mysteries shorter books, with sf and historical fiction in-between.

For "pure" mainstream I think there is very little chance of an author having a 400+ novel with no track record of selling tons of copies unless as a big advance/big gamble hyped/promoted debut.

So yes - the marketplace shows that people are more willing to spend money for bigger books than for slimmer books.
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