I have a complaint to air. And I am curious to see if any others agree with my sentiments, so please let me know in the comments what your thoughts are, regardless of whether you agree with me or not (or have even noticed what I’m about to discuss).
It seems that lately, more and more books are being released in pieces instead of being released all at once. That we’re getting serial novellas instead of full-length novels. And I, for one, am not fond of this trend. (These are almost exclusively e-books. This does not make it any better.)
I have recently read two novellas that were the first part of a series and ended on what felt more like the end of an Act instead of the end of an arc. If anyone is unfamiliar with what I mean, this would be like ending the play at the intermission, and making the audience come back later to finish the play. The arc here is the story arc – and while there are different arcs for the individual book and the series as a whole,
There are lots of possible reasons for this trend, of course. The upswing in self-publishing or e-publishing likely make this easier. It might be easier on the authors to work on novella-length works instead of novel-length ones. The content can get out to the reader faster if the author is working on smaller bits at once, which might keep some readers happier.
Releasing the novel in novellas instead of one larger volume might make it look like the reader is getting a deal instead of increasing the cost of the book (even though when you combine all the novellas the cost is higher). I’m not complaining about the increase in book prices here – I know that as the costs to publish rise, so will the cost to the consumer. But not all people are as agreeable, so maybe this is having an impact in how we will get our content.
Maybe people are just used to getting smaller doses of content at once. TV shows are a popular medium for entertainment, and they are released in half-hour or hour long sections.
I think my biggest complaint about this trend is that what we are given does not feel like a complete story. I have this complaint with other forms of fiction as well. Some YA books are more concerned with getting you to keep reading the series than with finishing the story. That trend annoyed me to no end, and I complained personally to at least one author about it. (She got better with her endings.) With the serial novella, however, there is no pretense about it being the end of a book. (The YA books at least wrap up most of their loose ends, even if they dangle the series plot in front of you right before “The End”.) Some of the serial novellas seem to look for the biggest cliffhanger they can find to dangle you over just to ensure that you keep reading the series.
You know what? That feeling that I’m being strung along is one of the surest ways to get me to stop reading a series.
What do you think? Is this a trend that anyone else has noticed, or is it just me? And does it annoy you too, or do you prefer the novella length & format to the longer novel?