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250 page books
Old 10-25-2007, 07:58 AM   #1
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250 page books

Has anyone else ever wondered why it takes 250-300 pgs at a cost of $25 to say what could be stated succinctly in 25-30 pages at a cost of $9.99
Are there any writers, publishers or capitalists/economists who can answer this question. I'd much rather read 10 good/informative short books for $100 bucks than labor over all the story telling and BS for an additional 200 pages....even with the Amazon discount. I'd even apply this to library books...tell the story and move on...maybe its the type A personality thing.
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Old 10-25-2007, 08:44 AM   #2
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Cliffs Notes........
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Old 10-25-2007, 09:11 AM   #3
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Soem people are verbose.

Some think that longer means better.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:07 AM   #4
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Because the trees have already been killed?

OTHO, something like Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain" should be savored in the full-length version; god I wish I could read German.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:08 AM   #5
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I am in your camp. I guess I am a bit ADD-type, but I love a nice succinct book or magazine article. I can't pay attention with all the fluff. Some books manage to make each chapter an almost separate book on it's own, I can deal with that approach.

OTOH, newspaper articles seldom go in-depth enough to be of any real worth. Occasionally, the Chicago Tribune takes one subject, and makes an extended article out of it. But, IMO they do a very poor job of it usually. They just repeat the same thing in different ways, or add fluff, and never really focus it much, or the data really isn't applicable - it's usually just a longer waste of time.

Sorry if this post was too long

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Old 10-25-2007, 11:13 AM   #6
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Many authors cover up their inability to make a point by being verbose. It is not easy to be succinct.

Who said " I'm sorry this letter got so long, I didn't have time to write a short one?'? Ben Franklin?

-ERD50
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:25 AM   #7
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i've picked up a few books that were basically glorified/fluffed up magazine articles - could have been 2 pages of magazine, but ballooned to 100+ pages! blah! sometimes if it has a good title/angle i think the publisher knows they can make a buck or two before people figure out it's a bunch o' nothin'.
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:00 PM   #8
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I'm guessing the OP is not a big fan of Ayn Rand.
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:03 PM   #9
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Many authors cover up their inability to make a point by being verbose....
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Or got paid by the word like Dickens. Love him anyway!
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ferco View Post
Has anyone else ever wondered why it takes 250-300 pgs at a cost of $25 to say what could be stated succinctly in 25-30 pages at a cost of $9.99
Are there any writers, publishers or capitalists/economists who can answer this question. I'd much rather read 10 good/informative short books for $100 bucks than labor over all the story telling and BS for an additional 200 pages....even with the Amazon discount. I'd even apply this to library books...tell the story and move on...maybe its the type A personality thing.
Yeah, I've gained some experience in that area.

I enjoy watching professionals practice their craft of evoking long-forgotten memories or bringing new vistas to life. Stephen King has written an entire book about tight writing... filled with reminiscing, musings, and descriptive prose. He doesn't write horror books-- he writes memoirs with a subplot and you're supposed to enjoy the ride more than the destination. Tom Clancy is a wargamer who spends more time setting the stage than putting on the play, and it's because he enjoys the complexity of strategy & tactics. To him it's much more subtle than just pointing the gun and pulling the trigger... he's trying to show the answers to that age-old question "How the #$%^ did we end up here?!?"

Non-fiction writers have to reach their audience, and if they want to be published non-fiction writers then it's not just one demographic. Their chapters are full of examples to appeal to different people. If all your sidebars are only about balding middle-aged white guys then you'd better hope that demographic buys a ton of books.

People learn in widely different ways. You can present a topic from a number of different aspects to appeal to all those different learning styles. Someone will find a nugget "just for them" and recommend the book to all their friends.

Some want to cover a topic from all aspects. I've read a book called "Oxymoronica" containing over 1400 different quotes with that feature. You can make the point in the first paragraph but the remaining 1399 quotes were also funny.

Finally, an author will think they're writing a book on topic "A" and an editor (or a contributor) will point out that they could also cover "B" & "C" without much additional effort-- while appealing to two or five or even ten times as many people. Suddenly the 25 pages that you care about will be surrounded by 200 pages of situations that are tangentially related to your core but may be much more interesting to the book buyers than you realized.

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Some think that longer means better.
There's an editor joke hiding in here, but no doubt CFB will be along shortly to smack this slowpitch up over the scoreboard...
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:31 PM   #11
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Many authors cover up their inability to make a point by being verbose. It is not easy to be succinct.

Who said " I'm sorry this letter got so long, I didn't have time to write a short one?'? Ben Franklin?

-ERD50
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:06 PM   #12
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My nomination for the worst example of a book grown from a magazine article is "The Number" about retirement nest egg size. Some posts here share more knowledge, and they don't include the author's new house, floor coverings, pets, and endless name dropping. The book is as shallow as the author.
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:23 PM   #13
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The book is as shallow as the author.
There's a silver lining in that cloud. The book is a wonderful example of the "just one more year" syndrome and "paralysis by analysis". It sends such a powerful signal to the ER community that you wonder if the author is really writing a subtle satire. I wonder if he lies awake at night trying to decide whether to take Social Security at age 62, 66, or 70.

Kinda like giving H0cus his own forum on an ER discussion board...
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Old 10-26-2007, 05:40 AM   #14
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I don't think the OP is expressly talking about fiction (hope not)... seems like there's a "wealth" of self-help and personal finance titles that use this approach, though.

I think it's just an attempt to "pad" the whole publishing stable of offerings and then the books get padded as a byproduct..the extra words and paper are cheap in the overall scheme, but probably trick people into thinking the book is more important than it is.

They're not going to charge you 1/2 price for 1/2 the pages. If 300pp. is $17.95, 150pp. will be $12.95. And then people will say "$12.95 for this little thing!?!"

"Boy, the food at this place is really terrible."
"Yeah, I know; and such small portions."


You especially get this with authors who are setting up an assembly line series (why write one book with ten ideas when you can write ten books over 10 years with one idea each?) or worse, a whole franchising affair .. my sister sent me (out of the blue) a relationship/self-help-type book called "The Keys to the Kingdom".. it was enh-ok.. the message would've taken about 5 pages but it got padded out with long-winded parables to 200.. and IF you thought the message was helpful, well.. there are more books AND newsletters AND workshops AND DVDs, etc., etc.

You can usually spot these and avoid them unless you really want the needle that may be in that particular haystack, in which case read in the bathroom with post-its handy. Then photocopy the salient pages or make notes for yourself in a journal.. and then re-sell the book or give it away .

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Other pet peeve: I HATE magazines with stories that jump. I took up reading Harper's and The Nation and the New Yorker because the articles were all contiguous (or mostly IIRC).
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Old 10-26-2007, 10:29 AM   #15
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Ladelfina,
Even fiction can take up an inordinate number of pages !
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Old 10-26-2007, 02:39 PM   #16
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perhaps you might consider a switch to reading short stories. you might even find a big book of them.

Short story - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 10-26-2007, 05:30 PM   #17
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Maybe it all stems back to when we were in school and had to write that 2000 word or 10 page report (filler, filler, filler). That's probably where everybody learned it!
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Old 10-27-2007, 04:22 AM   #18
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Quote:
Even fiction can take up an inordinate number of pages !
Hmm.. well I guess just stick to short stories like LG4NB says. I read fast and have always loved looong books. If they are well-written you just don't want them to end.

With fiction you are reading to enjoy the process of the descriptions, the dialogue, the character development, the phrasing.. it can be like a piece of music. When the "point" is guy-meets-girl/guy-loses-girl I guess you could prefer 3 minutes of C&W or doo-wop over a couple of hours of Puccini or Bizet. Both are valid. Some people appreciate one form more the other and some people like it all!

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Mozart: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?
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I came across this..
Ming the Mechanic: The 36 plot lines

Maybe there are more than 36 plot lines in the universe, but there sure as hell are more than 36 books, or songs.. It's all in the way you tell them, sing them, combine them..

Quote:
  1. Supplication - Persecutor, Suppliant, a Power in Authority
  2. Deliverance - Unfortunates, Threatener, Rescuer
  3. Revenge - Avenger, Criminal
  4. Vengeance by Family upon Family - Avenging Kinsman, Guilty Kinsman, Relative
  5. Pursuit - Fugitive from Punishment, Pursuer
  6. Victim of Cruelty or Misfortune - Unfortunates, Master or Unlucky Person
  7. Disaster - Vanquished Power, Victorious Power or Messenger
  8. Revolt - Tyrant, Conspirator(s)
  9. Daring Enterprise - Bold Leader, Goal, Adversary
  10. Abduction - Abductor, Abducted, Guardian
  11. Enigma - Interrogator, Seeker, Problem
  12. Obtaining - Two or more Opposing Parties, Object, maybe an Arbitrator
  13. Familial Hatred - Two Family Members who hate each other
  14. Familial Rivalry - Preferred Kinsman, Rejected Kinsman, Object
  15. Murderous Adultery - Two Adulterers, the Betrayed
  16. Madness - Madman, Victim
  17. Fatal Imprudence - Imprudent person, Victim or lost object
  18. Involuntary Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, Revealer
  19. Kinsman Kills Unrecognised Kinsman - Killer, Unrecognised Victim, Revealer
  20. Self Sacrifice for an Ideal - Hero, Ideal, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  21. Self Sacrifice for Kindred - Hero, Kinsman, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  22. All Sacrificed for Passion - Lover, Object of Passion, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  23. Sacrifice of Loved Ones - Hero, Beloved Victim, Need for Sacrifice
  24. Rivalry Between Superior and Inferior - Superior, Inferior, Object
  25. Adultery - Deceived Spouse, Two Adulterers
  26. Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, theme of Dissolution
  27. Discovery of Dishonor of a Loved One - Discoverer, Guilty One
  28. Obstacles to Love - Two Lovers, Obstacle
  29. An Enemy Loved - Beloved Enemy, Lover, Hater
  30. Ambition - An Ambitious Person, Coveted Thing, Adversary
  31. Conflict with a God - Mortal, Immortal
  32. Mistaken Jealousy - Jealous One, Object of Jealousy, Supposed Accomplice, Author of Mistake
  33. Faulty Judgment - Mistaken One, Victim of Mistake, Author of Mistake, Guilty Person
  34. Remorse - Culprit, Victim, Interrogator
  35. Recovery of a Lost One - Seeker, One Found
  36. Loss of Loved Ones - Kinsman Slain, Kinsman Witness, Executioner
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Old 10-27-2007, 01:53 PM   #19
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Ladelfina,
Even fiction can take up an inordinate number of pages !
Right, like that moron Tolstoy. He could have just said, "Hey we Russian aristocrats had a nice life, we were mostly ERd and stuff. Then along came that nasty Shorty Frenchman. But he didn't figure on our brilliant generals and our stolid people, so he got his at Borodino."

Q.E.D.
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Old 10-27-2007, 04:44 PM   #20
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Same goes for research papers in journals....thank God for abstracts. I understand folks need to write a lot of "crap" to defend for their PhD thesis but who really reads all that fluff in between.
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