Mar 29 2012 8:40am

Does Size Matter? The Length of Your Book

How many of us, when we started reading romance, chose a book based on how long it was, the longer the better (We talked about the self-satisfaction of reading a very long book in For the Love of...The Longest Novel Ever).

Longer books could keep us entertained for...longer, and given that many of us are voracious readers, that extra length made a big difference.

With the e-reader revolution, it’s not as easy to tell if a book is long. Plus the length of a book can be deceptive in e-readers, if there is bonus content at the end or other superfluity. So, do you look at how long a book is before clicking to purchase? If you’re reading both paper and e-, do you save the longer books for your e-reader so you don’t have to haul the heavy book around with you?

Does size matter anymore?

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Lucy D
1. Lucy D
If it is a book that I have been dying to read, the more story, the better. But generally with a TBR list as long as I have, most times the longer stories get weighed down to the bottom of the pile. I picked up an eBook that someone has recommended, I opened the file and saw it was 700 pages. I can knock 3 or 4 other books off my list in the time it takes to read that one 700 page story. I haven't touched that one yet.
2. wsl0612
@LucyD - I am the same way, if a "new to me" author has a very large book out I'll probably delay reading it. It's not about the number of words in the book that's important, it's the quality of the writing that matters and whether they're telling a story that interests me. But I do get exhausted with outsized books, and there are times I'll skim over descriptive passages to get to the end.
Barbara Bauschka
3. njoireading
It certainly depends on the book; I find that fantasy novels need to be long in order to set up the "world" the book takes place in (Game of Thrones, Eye of the World, all the Robert Jordan books) but romance novels do not usually fall into that category. Outlander and BDB are two series that have books that are long, but again, there is an entire "world" that is created and multitudes of characters. Another criteria is the mood I am in when I want to read something. Is a lazy afternoon read? Is it late at night? A long plane ride? All of those go into the decision to read a certain book at a certain time. And then there are the ebooks. I have found some wonderful books at websites that have self-published authors. But beware, look at the file size or word count and not necessarily at the page count. For some books USD 0.99 is fine, but for the same file/word count I don't want to pay USD 2.99. Of course, for authors that I know, the price may not make as much of a difference, but sometimes it really does come down to the "cost per word".
Robbie Thornton
4. Button
Length does matter. Even in books. Like others have said, whether I read a long or short book depends on my mood and what's going on in my life at the time. I like short books so that I can get my gratification fix earlier, but longer books do tend to draw a bigger picture, give me a greater investment in the characters and the setting. Truly though, a very good writer can do that just as well in a short book. Molly Harper had me from the word go in How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf. I felt like I knew Mo and the other residents of Grundy after an hour or so.

Sometimes though, I read a shorter book and think "Wow, that might have been good if it had been longer, given me more information or spent more time on helping me relate to the characters." On the other hand, I have read longer books and cringed at the excess description of every little detail of a the heroines wardrobe or the heroes arsenal, or the forest surrounding the castle or whatever. Some description is crucial, but too much bogs down the story and does little more in my opinion than waste my time.

Honestly, I'm not as likely to pick up a very long book from an author I'd never read before. Without recommendations from others, I probably wouldn't even buy it. I'd be far more likely to risk a smaller amount of time on an unknown than to commit to the long haul.
WildAboutBones WildAboutBones
5. WildAboutBones
I look at book lengths more to see if it is a novella vs. a full-length story. I will not spend $4 or more on a novella and definitely not one in print (which drives the price up). I have been getting really aggravated at all the short full length books coming out now no matter what the price. I prefer hard cover, and then ebook followed by paperback only because my hand tends to cramp when reading paperbacks. There are advantages and disadvantages to each format but that is a different discussion. So getting back to length, I still think in terms of pages and think anything less than 300 pages, single-spaced, 10 or 12 pt times new roman, tends to disappoint me because there it just not enough time to build up conflict and romance and to enjoy the relationship afterward in so few pages. I just hate it when a story ends just as the couple gets together. I want a little bit of their life after getting together. Since I usually read 400-500 pages/day, I want a well rounded, lengthly story with a well fleshed out plot and that just, usually, is hard to find in less than 400-500 pages. So yes, longer is better, without regard to format (paper vs electronic).
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