Home » Monday Musings » Monday Musings – The Reader Dichotomy

Monday Musings – The Reader Dichotomy


It’s a conundrum…a mystery… an enigma. How can a population that prefers its news and information in snippets, slogans, and  jingles, favor novels of over 100,000 words?

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords and a man who has shown a singular ability to read the tea leaves in the publishing industry, recently posted an update on ebook sales trends. One surprising finding? Most readers seem to prefer their fiction lengthy. A hundred thousand plus lengthy. At a time when authors are being encouraged by their publishing houses to write shorter, hotter, faster.

It seems perfectly logical that, in our fast-paced, busy world, readers would prefer books that they can consume quickly. The evolution of reading material would seem to support this. Jane Austin and Leo Tolstoy took hundreds of words to say what today’s author might say in a sentence or a paragraph. The pace of yesterday’s story was much slower than the pace of a contemporary work. So it seems logical that people would prefer their beginnings, middles, and ends to happen in fewer pages. Alas, that doesn’t appear to be the case. So where’s the disconnect? It’s possible that, as things tend to do when human beings are involved, we’re moving full circle in our reading preferences. Or, maybe, in our fast-paced, busy world, when we pick up a book to escape into, we’re looking for something to soothe and settle. But if that were the case it seems we’d be reaching for the classics, because today’s authors have been trained to move a story along, to be succinct, to feed the hunger for thrills and excitement that today’s readers seem to want. Maybe it’s just as simple as immersion. Readers who happily immerse themselves into a great book don’t want that immersion to end…because then real life comes crashing back in. Whatever the reason, it’s good news for those of us who like to embrace more complex stories that support nearly endless tomes. But it’s gonna take a little retraining. Because, to make a long story short…

‘Nuff said? #:0)

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