What Does the Bookworm Say?: Serialized Novels

March 14, 2015 Discussions, Thuy, What Does the Bookworm Say 3

whatdoesthebookwormsay-buttonsquare-post

Hi and welcome to What Does the Bookworm Say?, a feature where I discuss bookish topics with my friends at The Reader’s AntidoteBooks Unbound and The Windy Pages. Each week, we will discuss a new bookish topic. This week’s topic is: what do you think about the rise and popularity of serialized novels?

If you don’t know, a serialized story is a new-ish trend that’s popped up in the last couple of years. Publishers will release a novel or short story in a serialized format, breaking the story into several parts. The ones I have seen are usually released on a weekly basis. Overall I am not a big fan of this trend. As a binge reader, I like to have the whole book with me when I start a novel. That way, if it’s good, I can read straight through to the end. The compulsive reader in me doesn’t want to have to wait a week for the next part of a story to release. The other problem I have with serialized novels is that most of them aren’t written with a serialized format in mind. They are just chopped up into convenient, bite-size pieces that don’t always work well when not read as a whole. The only time this hasn’t felt this way was when I read The Kraken King by Meljean Brook. I read an interview where Brook said that she knew it was going to be serialized and wrote it as such, making sure that each part had the right pacing so that, even though they were part of a larger story, each part had its own story arc. When I read it, the format did feel more intentional and not just like random parts of a whole.

One of my other pet peeves with this trend is that serialized novels end up costing more. I realize that writers and publishers need to sell books in order to continue and I regularly buy books both from brick and mortar stores and internet sites. So I am not afraid to pay for a book. But I do get a little annoyed when I have to pay $15-$16 for a book that might normally cost $10-$12 if it was released at once as a full novel. The worst is when a short story is serialized because then you’re paying $5 for a short story with each part maybe being only about 5-10 pages long.  If you do end up buying each part of a novel, in the end you have a bunch of files instead of just one. So if you want to go back and re-read a section of the book, you’ll have to remember which section the part you want to read is in.

As you can see, I am not the biggest fan of serialization. I just don’t see the benefits of it as a reader. But what you guys think? Am I missing something? Have you read any great serialized books that I need to check out?  Don’t forget to check out The Reader’s AntidoteBooks Unbound and The Windy Pages to see what their answers are to today’s question.

sign_thuy_black
  • My first experience with serialized novels was with Mina Esguerra’s Scambitious series, but I didn’t mind because each part (there are four) had its own story arc. I think I’d prefer to read the full novel than having them broken into little parts, but I thought some authors released several short stories to keep their name relevant to the reader, as I think it takes authors at least a year to work on one standard-length novel. :) Happy weekend!

    • I do think that serialized novels can be good but yes, each part needs to have it’s own arc in order to make it work. And I am totally fine with short stories. They are fun little tidbits for fans. I have read short stories split into serialized parts though, which is not fun because then each part is only like 10-20 pages. That’s not enough book for me! :)

  • I’m hit or miss with serialized novels. When a single book is broken into 3 parts, I actually tend to read the whole thing faster, and I’m not sure why. I THINK it’s because Kindle keeps telling me that I only have an hour left (or whatever), so I’m motivated to just push through it and read faster. If I already have all of the sections, I’ll basically just inhale the “book” in a way that I wouldn’t under more traditional settings. But I WON’T start the first section until I have all of them, because you’re right — they do tend to just break them up at random since they weren’t originally intended that way.