Friday, May 17, 2013

When Is A Book A Book?

It used to be simple. A book consisted of pages bound together with a cover either of hard or soft material. Shorter pieces (essays, short stories, novellas, etc.) were either printed in magazines or several were bound together into book form. From the time the printing press was invented, this was the way things were. Then the ebook was invented, and everything changed.

I have two novels and a novella published. The novel is available in both electronic (ebook) and paperback format. The novella is only available in electronic format. So, do I have three “books” or a two books and something else? And since the second full length is only available in ebook format right now, does that mean it won’t be a real book until it’s printed? The rules have changed, and both readers and writers are confused.

Conventional wisdom says that anything over 65,000 words was a novel. Above about 10,000 was a novella, and under 10,000 was a short story. Now, frequently 40,000 words is a novel. As I said before, a bound volume was a novel (or book), now an ebook can be almost any length.

So what are we, as readers and writers, to do? Well, my opinion is, to quote Steve Winwood, “Roll with it, baby!” If you’re buying an ebook, check the length to make sure you’re getting what you want. If an ebook says short story or novella, double check to see you’re getting what you paid for. Try different lengths, different authors, different genres. Leave reviews. It’s a new world, go forth and play!

In case you’re interested, my new book is The Ugly Truth, a full length novel (over 65,000 words) published by The Wild Rose Press. It's available only in ebook and only from Amazon until August 16th. Then it will be available in all the usual outlets—in ebook and in that magical paper format.

Have a great weekend!

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