Let’s Talk Length Shall We?

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Questions at the bottom of the post.

Ok, before you all start to get overly excited and we hear the usual ‘It’s not how long it is but how you use it jokes …’ I’ will clarify it a bit …. this is a question about books.

Obviously, the main image should have given that away!

Which do you prefer to read – Long or short content books and why? If long how long is long enough and if short how short is considered by you to be a short read? Also is the length unimportant IF the content is fantastic? – As in if the topic or story plot is rivetting enough to keep you turning page after page.

Obviously there are benefits to each – in recent years l have found myself wanting shorter fiction and longer topical content reads, but then l am losing interest in a lot of fiction, and prefer reality reads or factual reading. So that ‘ll make a difference with my reading style.

I consider books under 200 pages a short read and anything over 600 pages a long read and somewhat time draining – but l don’t have a lot of time these days and less if l find myself stuck with reading that is drab and unexciting.

This is also reflective upon my viewing of Films as well – l am not interested in watching something that is 90+ minutes long in one sitting because l become way too fidgetty after 60 minutes tops, whereas in smaller pockets of say 15 – 45 minutes l can find that l will watch something. I have noticed l tend to watch more series now than l do actual films. I was invited last week to watch the new Bond movie at the cinema and l simply answered with ‘Thank you but no, l’ll wait for the DVD/Netflix or Amazon options”. The film is 2hours and 43 minutes long!! You have GOT to be joking if anyone thinks l could sit for 163 minutes in one position without going insane!

I have several films in Netflix for example [300, Young Guns 2 and Moneyball] and l have seen them before but am watching them again, but l can’t watch segments for longer than 15 minutes anymore. With books, l limit my reading time to maybe 15-25 minutes a night, but then l spend a lot of my day time reading mostly topical content.

I used to read a lot of long content books like for example – Les Miseràbles, Victor Hugo which was over 1200 pages and also when l think of Lord of the Rings which was a long read albeit a trilogy of well over 1700 pages and also again, the likes of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo was also an excellent read and again at 1000 odd pages or something and a few years back l read the Alien series back to back. But then l was content to read story lines with anything above 600 pages. Not today though. Now l find anything fiction wise longer than 200 pages a mental drain.

BUT, that is just me – what about you – with the following questions ….

Which do you prefer to readLong or short content books and why?

If long how long is long enough and if short how short is considered by you to be a short read – but also what would be too long and what would be too short?

Also is the length unimportant IF the content is fantastic? – As in if the topic or story plot is rivetting enough to keep you turning page after page.

Also for the authors amongst us – which do you prefer to write and which produces the best income for you – long or short content and whilst we are here and for those that may produce them – how about low content books also?

Let me know below … thanks.

Part 1 of 2

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36 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Length Shall We?

  1. For writing, I prefer short story and posts. For reading, as you said if the content is great, I would read as long as it holds my attention. I don’t like too long movies, and it again depends on the content. I’ve seen 3+ hours long movies because the story demanded it. But a long book or movie, just for the heck of it will bore me quickly.

    1. Oh yes l too have watched long movies of that time span also, l think of films like Titanic, The Deer Hunter, Ghandi or even Schindler’s List off the top of my head, but l was younger when l watched them and therefore could keep my attention fixed AND they were excellent storylines …. but today l would be in the world of slumber at the 61st minute! 🙂

      But today with regards books, no long content for me anymore – there is too much to do.

      Good answer Sadje.

        1. I could rewatch them, just no longer all in one sitting. It has gotten so bad at times now that sometimes l find l struggle to watch 45 minutes of viewing time.

  2. I had read an interview with Ian McEwan (before trying one of his novels). In it he suggested that any contemporary novelist who produces a book over 300 – 350 pages long was likely not a good writer. I liked that.
    Then I listened to a talk by Stephen King who said plot was the consideration of the poorest writers, and I like that too.

    They used to warn about judging a book by its cover but for a long time I’ve judged books by their length. As I shop for books at Amazon, it’s easy to check on the number of pages. The most recent exception was last year when I read Middlemarch, (800 pages) but that’s a classic so an exception. But I did find it tiring.

    Also, if the synopsis suggests it’s heavily plot driven, I might avoid it. Like Stephen King, I prefer character depiction, good turns of phrase, and ideas: the mark of excellent writing.

    2h 43mins for a Bond film! Daniel Craig is a good actor and plays a good action hero, but isn’t Bond dull now. It’s the same old story repeated. Formulaic. I don’t like sequels at the best of times but Bond exhausted itself many films ago for me.

    But I don’t mind long films. However, there aren’t many new films that appeal. I think the most recently released film I’ve watched and enjoyed is Parasite. I think that is two hours long. If I watch a TV series, I tend to wait until it’s over and go to the box set and watch several episodes one after the other, so it’s the same as watching one long film. I can’t maintain an interest when it’s broadcast one episode a week. They’ll be something else shown in the meantime and I’ll no longer care about following the story.

    1. hey Ian, good to see you again. Hope you had a good summer.

      Yes Bond films are now very dull, simply a case of wash, rinse and repeat, but die hard fans will always be long time supporters.

      I also watch series that are not current, because l want to see the content when l want to see it and become very tired at times of waiting for weekly installments.

  3. 350 pages is my max for a book…but I do take into consideration all the extra pages – they can take up a good 10 pages or more…90 minutes is my max for sitting and watching, whether that is one show/movie or several – 90 minutes is my max for sitting passively and doing nothing limit. Sometimes I think my limits are a function of age – when I was young(er) I would happily read lengthy books or watch long movies – now, my time is limited (as in how many years I have left to live). There is no such thing as too short – if the story is told, then the story is told. Pages and pages of description drives me bonkers – I don’t care what the sunset looked like, or the street, or the house or the landscape – if it has nothing to do with the story, leave it out. I think that’s why I enjoy reading plays – all story, no fluff.

    1. So, when you say pages and pages of description, do you mean over description or simply too much detail?

      300 pages is a good number if the story is good l agree.

      1. I mean anything superfluous to the plot/story. I don’t know if you are familiar with the “Clan of the Cave Bear” books by Jean Auel but if she had cut out the endless descriptions of the various landscapes the books would have been at least 1/3 shorter. (And yes, I skipped them.)

  4. I like mysteries and romances that are around 300 pages. But I’ll read longer or shorter if the blurb grabs me. I also like books of poetry, when they aren’t awful…

    1. Of course there are a lot of awful books out there on all subjects not just poetry. The part 2 to this question is looking at that subject tomorrow Paula.

      Is poetry still supported that well as a genre in sales? I read recently that as a genre it is dropping very quickly from popularity and the ‘good stuff’ versus the shite is becoming smaller as a %.

        1. Yes, paying for poetry as in sales l think would be a very hard sell due to the general interest from readers and l suppose that stems from readers wanting to ‘invest’ their time into reading something with a bit more bite.

          I like poetry myself, but even l don’t own any poetry books anymore, and l also prefer rhyme over art style.

          There is a huge rise for low content books – self helps, empowerments, ‘ironically ‘how to write poetry’ and so on.

        2. Yes, that’s the same over here, it seems that in schools, creative learning is being thrown out of the window..

          It is purely academic studies, but as l have discussed this week here and irl with others, our curriculum is too old fashioned to be properly functional in today’s world for our children. it is no longer realistic.

        3. Exactly, it does make me wonder what the end goal is to be and what they expect people to become.

          Will the arts simply be lost to time and the very essence of craft become like a ancient teaching and learning experience only seen in tomorrow’s museums …

  5. I read almost exclusively nonfiction. 200-ish pages is good for me. I rarely read books that are over 300 pages.

    In terms of sales, I think it depends what the book is intended for and what the competition is. My book that generates the most sales is under 100 pages, and I think that’s partly because being short is what sets it apart from other books in that niche.

    1. Hey Ashley, short content books – fiction/non-fiction are huge sellers next to low content books. People are now trending shorter reads over that of longer reads.

      Niche content is also exceedingly popular today as opposed to even just last year. People l think are back on the move again with life rather than staying home for one reason or another.

  6. Time, time, time… I still have books that I purchased and have not read. I am going on two years of no reading. Even blog posts and “news” articles are sometimes difficult for me. I fall asleep or my mind wanders. It has nothing to do with content, it’s me and my life.

    I can’t watch movies in theaters because sitting in one place for anytime over 30 minutes causes me physical pain. Plus, I have the same problems of konking out or mind wandering.

    Length never mattered before. Books and films were either good or bad, and making them longer or shorter wouldn’t have changed my opinion. I’m sure there are exceptions, but generally speaking, it’s about quality, not quantity.

    1. Hey Gramma – strangely enough the part 2 makes mention to how people have more books or rather eBooks than they can read.

      I agree, quality over quantity anyday 🙂

  7. Short like Steinbeck. It is easier to write a long letter than a short one. I admire people who put in the work of editing by tightening up and reducing redundancies in their writings.

  8. Oh I love an epic novel or series to lose myself in completely for days or weeks. I love some of the lengthy classics because they completely transport me to another age. Because I am reading about the characters every day, I start to really know them and understand why they take the course they do. I really feel the dramatic challenges they go through. Shorter fiction – I don’t have the same experience and I forget it very quickly. Longer works – they stay with me for a long time.

    1. Hey Jenna, l can understand and relate to that all too well as in the worlds or environment of long reads and long series being immersive 🙂 They become almost a way of life.

  9. I don’t have the patience to read anything too long. I prefer to read fact vs fiction, even though I have some fiction saved in my Kindle by authors that I like.

    I don’t get into long movies either but I love Broadway plays! I saw Cats three times in London, also Chorus Line and Phantom of the Opera several times. Live performances have great appeal to me.

    1. I think you have hit the nail on the head Eugenia, for me too it is a complete lack of patience for anything l consider poor quality but also it’s just time now as well.

  10. Which do you prefer to read – Long or short content books and why? It depends on the book. You put your finger squarely on the reason why too. IF the book is interesting, it is immaterial (to me) how long it is. Longer is better if it’s a really engrossing story of course. But I’ve read novelettes and short stories that were just as gripping.

    If long how long is long enough and if short how short is considered by you to be a short read – but also what would be too long and what would be too short? Too short is something that barely has a plot line or character development because there is not enough room. I struggle with brevity though in my own writing, so who’m I to judge? Too long is any book of any length that turns out to be a boring read OR one that is full of editing and spelling errors to the point that it becomes glaringly obvious that the author had not one clue what they were doing OR they didn’t care about the quality of their book. Big turn offs!

    Also is the length unimportant IF the content is fantastic? – As in if the topic or story plot is riveting enough to keep you turning page after page See Answer #1. .

    Also for the authors amongst us – which do you prefer to write and which produces the best income for you – long or short content and whilst we are here and for those that may produce them – how about low content books also? I write BOTH. With professional standards ‘rules’ my stories are short. To people reading from WordPress, my stories are usually a tad on the long side. I’ve only ever ‘sold’ my poetry (one book), and it wasn’t a great success really. I’ve done NaNoMo a few times, and I don’t get anywhere near enough words to qualify even for that. I’m contented enough to write when inspired, and if folks like reading it, great, if they don’t, great. It’s the effort that’s important to me.

  11. I like reading short stories, I read a lot of Agatha Christie books and they are never long.
    But I also read fantasy novels and they are long.

    For writing, I have written longer stuff but generally I write short stories but that just may be because I don’t have time to write much anymore.
    I’ve never made any income from them (apart from those fun detective stories I wrote for your competition and you gave me a kind amazon voucher for).

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