Really? You needed 723 pages to tell this story? Is it me or has the average page count of fantasy novels gotten out of hand? And it’s not just fantasy. Action adventure, historical fiction, romance, I look at the book shelves and all of the books seem to be expanding. Why?
First, let me say that I understand that everyone has their own likes and dislikes when reading a book.
Of the last twenty books I have read, fourteen broke the four-hundred page mark. Three were over five hundred and one was seven hundred twenty-three pages. When I finished this monster I realised I was less entertained than other books I’ve read that were half that size. I’m talking same genre, similar types of characters, similar plots, similar settings. I’m also talking about some of the most successful authors in the fantasy genre.
So, I asked myself why did this extremely successful book fail to live up to my expectations? The main thing that struck me was how many times the entire plotline up to the current time frame was replayed. Every time, each of the multitude of characters stopped to rest, they would replay, in their thoughts, all of the events of their journey up to that point (4-6 pages for each). Doing this for the main character once or maybe twice at a strategic point in the story can emphasize the character’s feeling of depression or frustration. But, using it every eight to ten pages for each of eight characters is just boring. I found myself skimming these sections after the first six or seven times. A conservative estimate would indicate that cutting these sections would have reduced the page count by nearly 100 pages! More importantly, removing them would not have taken away from the story. Why would the editor allow this? I am not criticizing the author directly because, for starters, he has sold millions of books and I have not. But as a reader I too have likes and dislikes. I have read well-written tomes that were page turners. I don’t mean flipping several pages ahead to skip the uninteresting character or the replay of the plotline for the umpteenth time. These books used every word to paint the story and move it forward in a meaningful way.
However, back to the original question. Why is it books seem to be getting bigger? It must be economics otherwise the publishing houses would limit the page count. Is it really cheaper to print and distribute 60 epics or 100 books that will still fit in the hip pocket of my jeans? Is longer better?
Interestingly, my brother-in-law just handed me three western novels to read. the Average page count is 160! Louis L’Amour wrote 89 novels and sold over 120,000,000 copies since his death in 1988. Hmmmmm.