I admit to having an obsession with eBooks. Some would probably call it unhealthy. I call it...well, something. They're marvelous. So many books, and they don't even take up any space! Which is good, because I don't have any. Space, that is. I have a wall of bookshelves...and a few piles...some random stacks on tables...and then there are the boxes in the closet. Needless to say, eBooks have kept me from drowning in my collection.
There are times, however, when there's nothing quite like the feeling of an actual book in your hands. I felt the urge this week to pick up a paperback. It's the first time I've done that in a while, but I had a craving for Dick Francis, so I dug into my stack. (And I really do need to replace some of those—my sinuses are still complaining from the dust. Paperbacks just don't hold up after twenty years or so of use. It's shameful, really). I sat down with my lovely, extremely worn book and three hours later, I was halfway through. "What?" I exclaim. "This is taking so long!"
With the arrival of eBooks, books have, it seems to me, been getting shorter. Most of the time, when I open up one of the gay romances I'm so addicted to, it seems the average is around 100 pages or so. It's nice. I can read it in one sitting. Enough to get involved in the story. Not enough that I lose track of time completely and forget to eat dinner. I imagine it's a sign of the times, instant gratification and all that. Not that there's anything wrong with a meaty book. I've read Lord of the Rings. More than once. Okay, a lot more. But with the million and thirty-four things to be done in a day, it's also nice to be able to take a quick time out and not be left with that nagging, something-left-undone feeling when I have to put a book down before finishing (and it never fails, I'll be interrupted just when I'm down to the last five pages!)
Do I have a point here? Nah, not really. Overall, though, I think a shorter book helps encourage reading. Opening up a four-hundred page book can be a bit daunting. It's far easier to start a short project than a long one. Shorter books are great for the casual reader, those who read maybe a book a month, as opposed to those of us belonging to the obsession club who think nothing of blasting through three or four (or more) in a week. So bring on the short novels and novellas, but let's hang on to some of those epic sagas, too. Just for us hard-core readers.