What constitues a “book”?

Like, really?

In this day and age of anyone being able to publish anything, what makes a book nowadays?

I ask this because after finishing The Clockwork Dagger I began my usual hunt for what to read next. While I eventually settled on The Tower Lord (which I am both enjoying and savoring – review won’t be for several days yet likely), I spent about 90 minutes reading a little indie title called Georgetown Academy. When I sat down to review it, I decided I didn’t have enough to say about the actual content to post it here, but I did post a review to Goodreads (which you can see here if you’d really like). While I thought that it was a fast read, even by my standards (I can finish a light YA read in maybe 3-4 hours), I didn’t think much of it.

Then, as I was getting ready to post my review I noticed this in the profile.

page count126 pages folks.

That was the sum total of this “book.”

You know how in the past I’ve complained about there are books that have cliffhanger endings that make you feel like you’re missing the rest of the book? This has that, and you could make a real argument that it literally is missing it’s second half. Books by traditional publishers are at least novel length so you get some value for your money, but this is a short novella!

Seriously?

THIS IS NOT A BOOK.

Now, to be fair, when I got this, it was available for free and free is free. The final “season” – that is, a collection of all four books – is a total of 635 pages, which means each book averages 159 pages.

THESE BOOKS ARE STILL NOT BOOKS.

And the reason I’m getting bent over shape is simple: economics.

Are indie books cheaper than traditionally published? Yes. But you’re also taking a much greater risk with indies like this. There are no gatekeepers of quality and these books generally aren’t professionally edited. For every great indie title out there, there are five that are so-so and a handful more that can generously be called drafts. The higher price you pay reflects the fact that at the very least you’re getting a polished product

These books should be more reasonable to the consumer because the middle man is much much smaller. But what happens when people start publishing “books” like this? The consumer pays as much as, if not even more. To buy the “season” will set you back $10 – and the reader almost has no choice, because for some odd reason book three is no longer available separately, and even if it were, it’s still set you back $11.

IMHO, the easiest way for an author to gain an audience is to offer that cheaper gateway, but when you release insultingly short titles and then make people pay $3/part, eventually the audience will cotton on, and they’ll stop buying. It ultimately seems counter-productive.

Your mileage may vary of course, but it’s something I’m going to be looking at going at when I see that a story has multiple “books” – readers like you and me deserve complete novels, and we shouldn’t be paying for works in progress. At best, it’s a risk. At worst, you’ll shell out money and never get an ending, and who wants that?

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