Size Matters – to Me

As a reader, I have a general book length that I prefer reading. As a writer, I found I did, too. When I wrote my first book, it just naturally came out to about 75,000 words which equals roughly between 250 and 310 pages of either a Mass Market Paperback or the larger Trade Paperback, and can vary even more with e-books.

I guess most of the books I read are classified as traditional mysteries, historical mysteries and cozies with an occasional fantasy or adventure thrown in, and these books are all in that general word length mentioned above.  I almost always read every day for at least an hour, sometimes more, so one could say I read a lot of books.

Keeping the price of reading under control is a challenge because I really enjoy keeping up with my favorite authors who have to be prolific in order to keep their publishers. And publishers seem to understand this, so they have encouraged authors, especially best-selling ones, to recommend their favorite books to the public through companies who promote current books (as if authors didn’t have enough to do in marketing their own books). Note: I seriously find it hard to believe that some of the authors listed as recommending some books actually have read them, much less have the time to recommend them. Okay, call me cynical. But, I don’t want to miss out if so-and-so says it’s really great… What to do? Opps, I got a little off track.

Lately more and more opportunities have become available for books to be offered at a discount, both in print and in e-book form and not all the books are current. Some are classics or books that were popular years ago, went out of print and have just become available again (largely due to Print-on-Demand).  Sometimes the books are free or $.99, or $1.99, sometimes more. These books help my budget, provide good PR for the authors and keep their name “out there.”

Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention, but recently I noticed a trend where a favorite author has a new book out and in my rush to get it, I didn’t check the word-count or length of the file or page count, and after I’ve downloaded it to my Kindle, I find out the book is only 55 pages long. True, I may have only paid $.99, but I feel cheated when the book was not advertised as a novella. It’s easy to check when purchasing, but I’ve been excited and in a hurry and downloaded before checking a few times now. That won’t happen again!

When I read a book, it takes time for me to discern the plot of the book and get the characters straight and usually by 55 pages, I’m really getting interested, not ready to close the cover. Here I’ve invested my money, time and effort and (granted) senior memory in this book and it’s already over. That makes me very unhappy. Has anyone else noticed this trend, or is it just me? Makes me want to mumble, “Grrrrrrr!!!”

With some really favorite authors I’ll wait impatiently however long it takes for the next book in their series to come out and I’ll pay the full price at release date (or pre-order price), but I can’t afford to do that with all my reading material, so from now on, I’ll watch carefully to see how long the book is before I order, because I want to be a happy reader.

How about you?  Have you noticed this size thing? Does it matter to you?


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under internet, marketing, musings, writing

9 responses to “Size Matters – to Me

  1. Diana

    I understand your frustration Coco. I noticed several years ago some of my favorite authors had some new books out on Kindle and I was excited to download them. I was could hardly wait to read them to see what was happening with the characters in their series of books. Only to find out they were only short stories. Very disappointing. Lately I have been sticking with my paperbacks. Size does matter.

  2. Susan Coggins

    Like you, I too am a reader – every day. The number of pages is of no concern to me as long as I enjoy the content and I do have favorite authors. I recently came across Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk in a used book store. Loved those books when they were first published and have reread one of them. The second volume is waiting for me. Folks who don’t read or don’t enjoy reading are missing out on so much.

    • Thank you, Susan, for your comment. It started me thinking, making me wonder what it was that initially drew you to Mr. Wouk’s work. Was it the Pulitzer that sparked your interest, or an interest in history? I admit I have not read any books of his, but the two you mentioned sound like epics I might very well enjoy. I, too, don’t really mind the number of pages as long as they hold my interest. And I agree with you in feeling that people who don’t read are missing out on so much. Thanks again for stopping by.

  3. Sometimes short is exactly what i want, needing to lose myself but not having time to lose myself for long. I like to have several books on the go at once, both as a reader and as a writer, so I can slide into whatever fits my mood or surroundings.

  4. Sheila, my days of trying to follow multiple threads of reading are over, I think. I admire that you can juggle like you do. But I do agree with you on choosing what to read according to my present mood. Maybe that’s why I am interested in quite a few genres and don’t spend too much time on each. There have been really long books that I hated to see coming to an end, though. I don’t know. Perhaps a really good author is all that’s necessary for me. Or maybe I need to focus more. Thanks for the thought provoking comment!

  5. Salustra

    As I read continually (except when driving!) I have gotten upset by paying for a novel only to find a novella or worse a serial mini. I am fine if they are clearly marked as such which I find more often now, but still sometimes only by reading reviews. I would think all authors would want to put in such information rather than risk unhappy customers. I am also a fan of books in a series as I like on going characters when done correctly. I have noticed however in an effort to get them out some authors are definitely cutting down the on the length to the point almost a novella size. My biggest issue is authors who characters and plots I really enjoy but in order to get enough pages for a good book stuff numerous never ending sex scenes. I’m certainly not a prude and enjoy some physical romance but since I just skip over 97% of them anyway (skimming for any dialogue) will only buy if price right.

    • Salustra, I see you have noticed the same situation I mentioned. I think a lot of publishers are putting pressure on writers to write more, it is a business, after all. And as a writer, I’ve seen this for myself. It used to be enough for best-selling authors to write one book a year, but now it usually is at least two, and I’ve seen (prequel or supplemental) shorter-works coming out as well. I’m disappointed that writers are not getting what they are worth, unless they are “big time authors.” I figured it would take about 5 books to start breaking even and as a senior, I don’t think I have the time. Note: My background is with traditionally published books. I don’t know how it is with self-published authors. I thought I should explain that for readers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.