Are Smaller, Shorter Books More Appealing to Time-crunched Readers?

In Discussion by Guest Contributor

clock time

By Todd Sattersten

For a long time books were expected be 200+ pages, but some of the most popular books have been extremely short. This is especially true when it comes to business books. The immensely popular On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt contained just 67 pages. The 20 million copy bestseller Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson and Ken Blanchard was only 97 pages.

The days of minimum page counts could be numbered as readers and publishers experiment with new formats.

Still, some publishers believe a book needs to be longer, perhaps to maintain higher prices and the perception of value. These publishers become more creative in maintaining page count at the same authors and readers seem to want fewer words.

When Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson delivered a 29,000 word manuscript of Rework (edited down from an original manuscript twice the size), their publisher Crown pushed back, citing a page count problem. The solution was to pad the book with additional illustrations. Smaller trim sizes are also more common.

But, are these publishers at odds with what readers really want?

Today’s lead story posits that readers are less interested in pages than they are in knowing just how much time they must commit to getting through a story. Is the truth that, when it comes down to it, smaller, shorter books are more appealing to time-crunched readers?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.