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View Poll Results: Poll: Do you love or hate serialized ebooks?
I never read serialized ebooks 96 57.83%
I try to avoid serialized ebooks if I can 55 33.13%
I prefer serials 15 9.04%
I only read serials 0 0%
Voters: 166. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-06-2010, 02:39 PM   #1
Smashwords
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Poll: Do you LOVE or HATE serialized ebooks?

Do you love or hate serialized ebooks?

Let's hear what MobileReaders think in this attached poll.

For those not familiar with serial ebooks, they're nothing more than a series of individual ebook files featuring installments of a story. Most serials I see range from 800 to 2,000 words. Charles Dickens, for example, serialized his stories by releasing chapters or chunks over time in a series, as he wrote them.

Would you rather purchase a complete book in one fell swoop, or do you prefer to read individual serialized installments?

At Smashwords, we're torn on this issue, and we feel compelled to clarify our policies. We generally try to let the author publish their ebook their way, yet on the other hand we don't want to see a 100,000 word novel divided into 100 ebooks of 1,000 words each. We also don't want to see, as we have seen already, a serial start then left unfinished, only to clutter our virtual shelves and frustrate readers. We think such scenarios are counterproductive to both the author and the reader.

Tell me what you think about serials. Vote in the poll, and then in the comments below, I'd welcome additional feedback. Should Smashwords create a special category for serialized books, or should we maintain our current policy of complete, standalone works only?

Thanks, Mark.

Last edited by Smashwords; 06-07-2010 at 02:20 PM. Reason: Removed link, clarified info
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:51 PM   #2
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Don't read 'em, wouldn't read them. I can wait until it is finished.
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:58 PM   #3
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Even when I subscribed to the Analog and Asimov's SF magazines I wouldn't read a serialized work until the issue that had the final installment came out. And with those it was guaranteed to be completed.

So no, I never read serialized works that are in progress and doubt that I ever will.
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:59 PM   #4
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I won't start reading a serial until it's completely published.
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Old 06-06-2010, 02:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardeegee View Post
Don't read 'em, wouldn't read them. I can wait until it is finished.
What he said!
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:02 PM   #6
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I prefer to purchase a complete book and not individual serialized installments. I would wait for the pieces before reading, but found that I would lose interest if they were not published quickly. So, now, I just don't bother unless the book is complete.

Last edited by dreams; 06-06-2010 at 03:19 PM. Reason: edit out the fix done
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:22 PM   #7
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Is a serial defined by its size, and the sense that it doesn't have a beginning, a middle, and an ending? Otherwise, what is a trilogy, or a tri- or quad-trilogy, or the Wheel of Time?

I hated serials when I was a kid -- my brother and I would always argue about who got to read first. I don't have that problem now, but I still hate waiting in the middle for the ending. I'll stay up til 4 AM just to get to the end of a good story.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:41 PM   #8
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After writing an unlimited series for a while, I can say that the whole series loses value if you don't:

1 Offer a story of worth in each book.
2 Provide something of a significant size.
3 Wrap it up eventually so your readers have a sense of arrival, or closure from time to time.

Even when ending on a cliffhanger, you have to give everyone the feeling that they experienced a significant event with the main characters, and when that next book comes out, it had better live up to the first, otherwise your readers are going to fetch their pitchforks and torches.

Speaking as a reader, I don't pay for anything under 30,000 words. It's also important to mention that the Wheel of Time lost me at around book 7 because I couldn't see an end in sight, and all the characters had pretty much leveled off and stopped developing. it was an example to learn from. So, do I go for a 1,000 - 2,000 word serial? Not since I was about 12 and reading Azimov's. It was around then that I started skipping them.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:43 PM   #9
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@pholy, I see a big difference between a serial and a series, though I don't know if the definition is universally agreed upon. A serial installment sits somewhere between the beginning, middle and the end of a story. A true serial need never end (witness television soap operas with storylines that run decades). The four books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (yes, four) each offered the complete standalone reading experience, so while they appeared in serial order, I wouldn't call them a serial. An author of a full length novel could also serialize the book into smaller chunks (per my example above).
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:55 PM   #10
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The Grantville Gazettes from Baen are an exception. It's a collection of short stories and serials. Some are very good, others bad enough to skip. For the most part very good.

They are, as of now, the only books that I'll buy without checking them out first. And they're DRM free.

I buy them in a bundle. The next bundle of 6 cost $27. Or $4.50 if you like. And I have them all.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:57 PM   #11
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I would only read a serial if all the pieces were published. I understand in the case of Dickens and other authors at the time, their stories were published in magazines and it was only later that all the chapters were compiled into print books.

When Stephen King published the Green Mile in serial format, I waited until it was published in one edition.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:58 PM   #12
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You should have a "dont like or dislike option."

I dont mind either way. I couldnt really say I prefer them or dont prefer them.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randolphlalonde View Post
After writing an unlimited series for a while, I can say that the whole series loses value if you don't:

1 Offer a story of worth in each book.
2 Provide something of a significant size.
3 Wrap it up eventually so your readers have a sense of arrival, or closure from time to time.

Even when ending on a cliffhanger, you have to give everyone the feeling that they experienced a significant event with the main characters, and when that next book comes out, it had better live up to the first, otherwise your readers are going to fetch their pitchforks and torches.

Speaking as a reader, I don't pay for anything under 30,000 words. It's also important to mention that the Wheel of Time lost me at around book 7 because I couldn't see an end in sight, and all the characters had pretty much leveled off and stopped developing. it was an example to learn from. So, do I go for a 1,000 - 2,000 word serial? Not since I was about 12 and reading Azimov's. It was around then that I started skipping them.
Good words! I hate the feeling that I've bought book two that does nothing more than "get me" to book three! I feel like a chump.

Another thing I really dislike are those series novels that (I don't know what the publishing industry calls -em) that are written by by someone else. For example, it seems the 1632 series has turned into some sort of franchise business.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:03 PM   #14
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I can only recall reading three or four serials, and those were by authors I am familiar with and respect. The two I can recall of the top of my head are Harlan Ellison's serialized release of his screenplay of I, Robot in Asimov's in the 1980's, and Allen Steele's Coyote spin off Galaxy Blues.

But those are fanatical exceptions. Usually I do not have the patience for serialized releases.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:35 PM   #15
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People have brought up both of my problems with this poll - it goes from "avoid" to "prefer". That implies a love 'em or hate 'em attitude.

I love serials as a concept (as matter of fact I'm serializing one of my ebooks on a blog right now, in prep for publishing the sequel), but there are too many different definitions to say whether I'd like a particular one or not.

In the old days, serials might be published as chapters with cliffhangers, but often they did NOT have cliffhangers - each episode was often almost complete in itself. Sometimes the story was wrapped up, but it just had a little hook toward the next story.

The Dain Curse (Dashiell Hammett), for instance, brings each section to a close with a fully resolved mystery... except there is one more puzzle that leads to the next story.

Even the early movie serials like the Perils of Pauline often were a series of stories connected by a single thread. The "cliffhanger" endings to episodes were added to the genre later. But even then, they were often just a gimmick to create anticipation, and each story really was designed to be viewed independently of the others (because people often did miss episodes).

So yes, I love serials, but I can't say I prefer them, and I certainly don't avoid them. I agree with those who say they would buy them if the stories were complete and satisfying in themselves.

Camille
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