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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » A thick book intimidates, what about thick ebooks?

Author Topic: A thick book intimidates, what about thick ebooks?
Member # 9398

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Every aspiring writer has read about the appropriate word counts for their genre and catagory of writing. Speaking of novels, I can understand this because the more words the higher the risk for a traditional publisher not making their money back. Costs more to print and it might intimidate some readers.

But does this apply to epub? I was browsing some titles and they merely tell you the file size. I speak as someone without an ereader. Does a reader see 500k and say, "Oh I can breeze through that"?

Certainly length applies in some respect, but does the reader have a sense of it, do they get the intimidation? Or would they simply pick it up and if entertained keep going to the end or if not, simply quit?

So then, does it really matter how close you get for an epub to your genre's appropriate length because if it's big they'll have little realized warning and if its good they won't care after they start?

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Member # 8612

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I've never even checked the book size of the ebooks I buy. If it looks interesting, I buy it. I've read short books I can't bear to finish, and huge books I still didn't want to end. As long as the writing is good, I actually prefer long books because then there is more to read.

Then again, I've never been put off (intimidated!) much by the long books in paper format, so maybe I am just not looking where others do.

Maybe if someone has nearly filled up their ereader they may worry about the size of a file, but nearing capacity based on one book sounds like they might need to trim abit anyways...

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Member # 9148

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I have no idea about most e-readers. (The people not the devices)

I would be intimidated depending on what the book is about and who it is by. I loved a writer I probably would love the idea it's a longer than usual book. But I probably would not buy one by an unknown writer. I say probably because there could be a circumstance where I would buy it anyway. And what the book was about could attract me despite the length.

And Smashwords does give the word count and I don't recall ever noticing at B&N I bought e-books I knew where good so I never checked on length.

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Member # 8019

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A narrative's length as proscribed by a publishing house, novel, digest, audience niche, is a direct function of how long it takes to read, which the English average is the same as the average oral reading rate or 150 words per minute, because many readers mouth the words as they read.

At that rate, a 2000 words short story takes about a coffee break's time, or 13 1/3 minutes. A 4000 words short story takes about a lunch break's time, 26 2/3 minutes. A 50,000 words novella, about 5 5/11 hours, one sitting for many readers. 100,000 words, 11 1/11 hours, a weekend's worth in three sittings.

Readers develop a subconscious association with narrative length to time spent reading. It's a budget. I have X time to spare for reading every week, or I have to start reading that assigned 350 pages, 125,000 words novel no later than four days in advance of the due date . . . . If you think about it. I do, though my reading skills are ahead of the average. I can read and comprehend a novel of that length in eight hours, one sitting though.

In other words, word counts aren't some willy-nilly happenstance chosen by whim. They're targets for audiences' reading budgets, at least they are for savvy houses.

So, yes, a large e-book will intimidate a reader who's intimidated by a large physical book.

Veteran e-readers develop a reasonably accurate sense of file size to word count conversion, too.

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Member # 9398

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Extrinsic, I agree from an economic stand point. Any time you are doing anything you are giving up the opportunity to do something else. So a longer book in any form = more commitment.

But a lot of that committment is illusionary. If I told you that I had a 300k book that you would love every page more than anything else you might read or watch in the same time, and you believed me then a 300k book would be a 'small' committment. So if it's good for that particular reader than the length is irrelevent because the cost to them leaves them satisfied. Quality is the issue.

My question, is about the PERCEIVED committment. Does the average reader LOOK at the file size or the word count and have a sense of the committment they are about to make, or do they more look at the cover and the blurb to get the sense of the commitment as LD suggests?

If it's the latter and a reader doesn't have a SENSE of what 80k vs 100k is then it won't matter once they're in it, and then it is the quality that determines if they'll come back.

I'm just suggesting that the word counts/file size/page # may not be as important in the epub format because they don't have an immediate sense of size and the price doesn't necessarily reflect a difference.

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Member # 9196

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I'm just suggesting that the word counts/file size/page # may not be as important in the epub format because they don't have an immediate sense of size and the price doesn't necessarily reflect a difference.

I agree, that's been my experience in reading e-books. The only queue I get as I'm reading as to size is the % read tracker that the Kindle gives you. If the percent changes more as I turn the page, I know the book is smaller, and vice-versa.

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Member # 8991

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Maybe they're out there, but I've yet to see a self-pub book put the approximate page count in their description. It's all KB. I'd imagine someday we'll be familiar enough to equate KB with page count, but I don't yet know the conversion.

I'm afraid of big books on e-reader, but only because I'm still reading on my iPhone. I'm not reading War and Peace on that sucker.


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Member # 8019

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enigmaticuser, time economy, sure, is one facet. What about entertainment economy? A spectrum of economy processes go into the mix. I've tutored readers of all ages and walks of life and varying skills, even expert readers. The groans and woes is mes at thick books outweigh the wows, now that's a book to sink one's teeth into. Not surprisingly, oftentimes, assigned books come with comments like, yeah, it's thick, just do your best.

However, micro short or epic long, print or digital, in any practical final consideration, the story matters, first, last, and above all for consumers, be they screening readers, editors, publishers, and, ideally, end-consumer readers.

At the present state of e-reading art, readers by and large aren't as savvy as print readers when it comes to awareness of length. Yet the numbers are changing. A recent survey noted for technologically savvy readers 60% of news media is consumed online, yet only 20% entertainment reading for the same survey sample. I suspect the latter number is skewed by limited reading entertainment budgets.

I know print magazine and newspaper and manuscript word counts at a glance, print books too. Digital, though file sizes are by no means as standardized as print, image parameters vary widely, embedded typefaces in the case of PDFs vary file size too, I can estimate to an extent how long any given work is and budget reading time accordingly. I read for work, for study, for entertainment at present 70% digital across the board. Although reading on screen feels boxed in to me, alienated somewhat from the text that I don't feel from print, screen reading is convenient.

That latter to me is the remaining digital publishing hurdle, formatting screen page for maximum comfort zone reading. Back when I started e-reading from Rosetta Books' site, the text was just thrown on the page. Line widths were whatever they were. Too wide, really, for comfort and reading ease. Recent versions of Kindle, Nook, and iPad I've evaluated are somewhat improved, but their line widths at a comfortable reading typeface size are one and a half blinks, uncomfortably slows my reading pace down.

The normative human vision perceives five idealized words at a blink. A comfortable and trackable line width of two eye blinks is about ten words or so. Exactly what all print book formatting is. A text block width to height ratio is close to the Golden Proportion. Though many believe the Golden Proportion is merely an aesthetic consideration, it's far more significant. It's an orderly ratio reflecting proportions of an average human face, body, etc., which is comforting and sought by human perception in chaos. An aesthetically laid out page of comfortable and easy-reading print resembles a human face.

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Member # 8501

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I don't know about eyeblinks, but that is a fascinating way of looking at reading metrics.

As a fiction e-reader in multiple formats, I get back to wanting to see word counts. The Kb number can be skewed if there is a lot of artwork or a cover. It grates that the kindle numbers at the bottom of my reader (I read from my computer and iPhone) are in some kind of gauging foreign to me. I suspect it's about 10 to twenty words per number on Kindle's scale.

I'd like to see the word count or percentage of word count.

As for the book length, the length becomes less intimidating in the e-world because everything is on the screen and nothing is physical. I don't like buying a tiny novel or novellette (something under 50K words) and not know it. As I said above, the number of Kbs can be deceiving.

I'd much rather read a 1,000-page-equivalent e-book than a 1,000 page printed book. That's as much to do with the physical clunkiness of reading a heavy book with lots of pages.

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Member # 8937

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I've noticed that when looking at the books to select from on my Kindle, there is a dotted line below the title that is representative of the books length. As in, the longer the line, the longer the book.

I see it more as if the reader enjoys the story, then they won't really care how big the book is, e-reader or paper. I've read the lengthy version of Battlefield Earth, and enjoyed it very much. I've also read some 150 page sci-fi books from the 60's and 70's that I couldn't get past the first chapter, so they got put down and never picked back up.

How many times have you read the synopsis on the back or inside flap of a book, and judged it from that? I've done it many times, especially if I've never heard of the author. Since I got my Kindle, I've downloaded lots of free books from Amazon by people I'd never heard of, but have found that they are books in series that I want to continue reading.

That's one thing I find so good about e-readers. Many authors will provide their first book in a series free, just to get the reader's attention. If they like it, then there is a good possibility that a reader will continue to buy their work, depending on the price. I enjoy lots of popular author's books, but have not bought the e-book they put out because they still want a premium for it. yeah, I know that has to do with the publisher, but still, when a paperback can be bought for 7 dollars, and the e-book is 10, then it kind of discourages the purchase of that ebook.

2 cents from me.

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Member # 9657

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I'm another Kindle user, and I have to say I never consider (or even look at) word count or page length when purchasing an ebook. If it's a good book--and this is true for me whether paper or electronic--I don't care how long it is. In fact, for the truly great books, the longer the better. (I'm still sad that the Count of Monte Cristo eventually ran out of people to avenge himself on.)

I have, however, occasionally found my eyes drifting downward to the Kindle dotted line, thinking, "For crying out loud, there's THAT much more to go?!" --which never bodes well for a book getting read by me. That's the only time I actually pay attention to ebook length.

At the same time, as an avid reader I think I would expect the ebook lengths to follow fairly closely traditional book lengths. The antsy part of my brain may start shutting down quadrant by quadrant if it drones on much past that.

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Member # 5512

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I can't force myself to read short stories. I've bought one of the WOTF collections and never got through it all (sorry guys).

The novel I finished last week was about 200 pages long and I was dragging through every page. Now I'm stuck with writing a critique as a favor to a friend and I can't think of one good thing to say about that novel.

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Member # 8547

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I'm with Teraen here, I never worry about the length of the book. In fact a lot of times I'll go for the thicker ones to get more for my money if it's an author I like and the order doesn't matter (like Terry Pratchett).

I know in fanfiction the readers often go for the longest stories they can find, because they know the author's not going to just go one chapter and quit. And if they start reading and realize the book's not worth their time they stop and find one that's better.

I imagine that's the case with any story of any length. I'm sure we've all got books we regret buying that we didn't finish. If it's longer all it means is there was more of it you didn't read when you quit. And in the case of it being awesome, there was more to read before it was over.

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