View Full Version : Does length of book really matter?

21-02-2016, 18:13
I know generally the answer to this is that it is the quality of writing and story that matter most, but over the last year there has definitely been a trend at BL for shorter novels such as Skitarius and The Beast Arises series.

However, looking at my book shelf it is plain to see that a fair few "classic" releases from BL's earlier years would indeed fit this "short novel" format. I know word count is the only accurate measure as pages, font size and hardback/premium paperback format all make book length variable but I am not about to count words...but some examples include (just story not adverts or authors notes etc):

Angles of Darkness = 278pgs
Ghostmaker = 287pgs
Execution Hour = 319pgs
The Necromunda books = 254pgs
The Calpurnia books = 320/254pgs

Would gladly take these shorter books over some of the awful padded 400pg plus books we were getting a few years back.

So that said so far been very happy with The Beast Arises series. All three books have been good and feel the right length. What do you guys all think?

23-02-2016, 10:53
Yes, yes it does in relation to how it is advertised and priced, especially when "novel" suddenly means 200-300 pages instead of what has been the standard for going on 10 years: 400 or even beyond. All the examples you list are, well, really bloody old. And they were released for reasonably cheaper than the current short novels. Angels of Darkness for example was $7 at its time.

Transparency is key. BL hasn't been transparent enough. The change in website layout even got rid of the page count and ISBN numbers from product pages, resulting in even more confusion about book lengths, since all we can go on now is preliminary info from Amazon.
The Age of Sigmar books are a sore thumb too: They are consistently advertised as novels, when they are either 2 or 3 novellas by various authors, or even short story collections, again by different authors. And then you have short stories that are actually parts of an already written novel they are just selling you piecemeal.

But then, looking at Skitarius & Tech-Priest, these two short novels should have been one volume, not two. Instead, they split a 400 page novel into two pieces (length-wise I check the audiobooks for reference. They are around 6 hours each, a regular 400 page novel usually has around 12 hours of audiobook content), selling them both for slightly cheaper than a full hardback novel (25 for 400 pages, 20 for each half).

Personally, I have yet to delve into Predator, Prey. The typical Abnett fashion of I Am Slaughter really turned me off for the time being. All the same trappings as usual, even though the political intrigue was brilliant. I appreciate the theme and release plan, though. And thankfully they fixed the prices too, with The Emperor Expects being 16 for the hardcover, and available via other retailers for cheaper than that, whereas Skitarius and co were direct exclusives. If they would keep this, I'd be happy.

War Without End, too, has been far cheaper than the other hardback Horus Heresy installments, with 22 instead of 30. That puts the 500+ page collection at the same price as one of the two-parter for Betrayal at Calth: Again a duology where one relies heavily on the other book, and both are half-length. They should have been one numbered installment in a combined fashion, not separate to milk customers, at a 14 premium over the other HH hardbacks.

I'd rather have a tighter, more concise and poignant book as well, especially for conflicts that do not really warrant a full novel. Peter Fehervari's Fire & Ice novella is something I'd like to have a standalone hardback of, and would pay the premium, due to how good it is. Chains of Golgotha, too, used as much time and words as it needed to be effective. Various novellas I've read last month outside of BL have also done the most of their format and great reads as a result.
I often tune out during action scenes in 40k. That's when I'm most likely to put a book down and read something else, with the intention of going back to it soon. Sometimes I even do. Instead of keeping me engaged, the mandatory battles detract from what I enjoy most: The character interaction and development. Age of Sigmar is especially infuriating as even the audio dramas have about 3 battles each, going in, in the middle and towards the end. Instead of substance, the AoS books have been giving me headaches and feel like a chore. 40k has had that problem for a long while, but at least there was more to the setting and characters there.
The xth space marine fighting chaos/orks/tyranids scene just doesn't do it for me. It all blurs together and dilutes what otherwise is a good read with strong characters. There's only so many times you can be amazed by Astartes punching men to a pulp or bolter shells erupting heads.

The format is a good thing if it cuts out the padding and focuses the story on its important points. But it should also be appropriately priced and advertised clearly, especially in context to the rest of BL's catalog.

23-02-2016, 15:53
Gonna basically echo what DarkChap said. For me, as a BL fanboy I expect to pay for the works I love BUT at a fair price compromise from experience and when that starts to shift I question the value for money. So I got used to paying $40 about 4 years ago when I discovered BL had so many audiobooks (like, 11+ hours) then there was a slight shift to $45 then $50 where we sit now. OK, I understand, but the issue with length/amount of content I get for what I pay needs to not be too off. So for The Beast Arises I'm as content as I can be for 5.5-6 hours of audio for $30 but when AoS hits 7 to now 9ish hours for $50 I have to hit the breaks. Same goes for print or Ebook stories. Usual the page count is available from the BL webpage at release, but when leaks and rumors come usually they of course don't have a page count. And BL editors themselves have expressed how Amazon info posted in advance is often off the mark on several counts--page count, titles, release date, even author names at times :)

Naturally reading preference matters as well. I love the feel of a book in hand but when traveling or for whatever purpose you might go ebook for practical purposes. BL has gotten better though on moving the printed price toward the ebook price ratio on SOME stories but not all, and certainly not near enough for limited edition novellas, but it is some progress. The flip side is we don't HAVE TO buy any of this stuff. Well, yeah, but we obviously like the IP and wish to be able to partake without an 18+ month wait for a cheaper edition.

And TBA so far is a great series for the price imo. I do know what you mean about older paperbacks being enough bang for your buck than some of the fiction over the past decade. So I don't think length is a huge factor as long as one can justify the price, which may just be wait until you read some reviews or get thoughts from your mates and see if you still want it. Like, if ADB or Guy Haley wrote something I'd probably pull the trigger as long as it's not like $30 for 200 words:) It's a great question you pose here, though.