Mobileread
Open letter to Authors Regarding Page Counts
#1  Rellwood 04-26-2019, 03:42 PM
Hi there,

I just need to get this out there because I am a bit heated.

When you publish an e-book and there is a page number listed, please - please- consider your actual word count before listing the page count.

I am very disappointed to learn that 7 books I just purchased at $3.99 were listed as being anywhere from 265 and 302 pages are actually averaging 60,000 words.

If I had know they were as short as they were, I would have waited until the author compiled the books into the inevitable anthology they would become. Instead I purchased them on the basis that they were longer, and therefore would be more likely to be standalones in a series and not serials.

Thanks!
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#2  gmw 04-26-2019, 09:37 PM
The page and word counts shown on reseller websites like Amazon and Kobo are not under author control. The only way that an author has to tell potential buyers about the length of their books is to slip it into the title or blurb - neither of which is terribly elegant, it seems to me.

Might I suggest you shop at Kobo? It offers both word and page count, and I for one am very grateful. What I'd like next is a filter option to hide the growing volume of short fiction and audio books - since I don't read a lot of either (and won't buy a short stories at $3 each). You cannot achieve the filter by price because there are many full length novels selling for the same price as 10k word shorts.

I'd also add that many Agatha Christie books are in the 60k range, so I'd argue that it's not an unreasonable length for a separately published book as long as it stands alone fairly well.
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#3  Lemurion 04-28-2019, 05:31 PM
I agree, and Amazon seems to be deliberately confusing the issue as well. I have three of my Doc Vandal books on hand in physical form and none of the print versions page counts exactly match the website-- and I have the print editions done through Amazon's KDP.

Another thing to watch out for is that word count doesn't necessarily make the difference between series and serials. All of my series novels run from 50-65,000 words apiece but each one is a standalone adventure. Yes, there are ongoing threads in terms of character development, but each book can be read on its own.
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#4  haertig 04-29-2019, 08:19 PM
This is somewhat related to the thread I posted here:

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=316434

My complaint was about "abrupt cutoff", and your complaint is about word/page count.

But the underlying problem is the same: Authors selling short, incomplete works as if they were novels. Trying to make more money off of you by not mentioning, or even intentionally obscuring, the fact that you are not buying a book, you are buying a few pages from a book. With the expectation that you buy more and more of these small groups of pages to finally get the entire book.

Some people consider this legitimate authoring. I disagree ... I consider it a scam. A series of books where characters and other story elements continue on into new adventures in each book is one thing, small page groups sold piecemeal is totally different. Other people can of course have different opinions, I just know that I, personally, won't knowingly support authors that use this "technique".
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#5  crich70 04-30-2019, 06:22 PM
I don't think you can really even have an accurate page count (at least not in digital). After all the size of the font will alter it. If the font is large then fewer words fit on the page and so the page count is high. If on the other hand you use a smaller font then you end up with fewer pages.
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#6  Lemurion 04-30-2019, 08:09 PM
Quote crich70
I don't think you can really even have an accurate page count (at least not in digital). After all the size of the font will alter it. If the font is large then fewer words fit on the page and so the page count is high. If on the other hand you use a smaller font then you end up with fewer pages.
In my experience you can't-- especially as there's not just the font involved. Most reading devices also let you adjust the margins and spacing so it gets really hard to come up with a number and it really doesn't mean anything if you do.

On the other hand, marketing serials as series is a real problem. Anything from 50-60,000 words was fine for genre fiction for a large part of the 20th century, so as long as it's a complete story I don't know that there's a huge problem with short novel lengths for most people and $3.99 isn't a bad price for that.
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#7  gmw 04-30-2019, 11:43 PM
Both word and page counts for ebooks can also be distorted by the inclusion of teaser chapters from other books. It can be a surprise when reading to find that, instead of the expected 50 pages to go, you've suddenly reached the end.


If, as haertig suggests, the real problem/complaint is not wanting to buy into an incomplete story (at least until it is finished), then length doesn't really matter. You can be just as disappointed in a long book that doesn't finish as a short one (perhaps more so because of the time spent).
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#8  Rellwood 05-01-2019, 04:59 PM
Quote haertig
This is somewhat related to the thread I posted here:

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=316434

My complaint was about "abrupt cutoff", and your complaint is about word/page count.

But the underlying problem is the same: Authors selling short, incomplete works as if they were novels. Trying to make more money off of you by not mentioning, or even intentionally obscuring, the fact that you are not buying a book, you are buying a few pages from a book. With the expectation that you buy more and more of these small groups of pages to finally get the entire book.

Some people consider this legitimate authoring. I disagree ... I consider it a scam. A series of books where characters and other story elements continue on into new adventures in each book is one thing, small page groups sold piecemeal is totally different. Other people can of course have different opinions, I just know that I, personally, won't knowingly support authors that use this "technique".
I know about this practice, and I am not happy with it at all either, but this wasn't the case in this instance.

Fortunately, many authors today have been more upfront about cliffhangers in their book descriptions.
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#9  Rellwood 05-01-2019, 05:00 PM
Quote gmw
The page and word counts shown on reseller websites like Amazon and Kobo are not under author control. The only way that an author has to tell potential buyers about the length of their books is to slip it into the title or blurb - neither of which is terribly elegant, it seems to me.

Might I suggest you shop at Kobo? It offers both word and page count, and I for one am very grateful. What I'd like next is a filter option to hide the growing volume of short fiction and audio books - since I don't read a lot of either (and won't buy a short stories at $3 each). You cannot achieve the filter by price because there are many full length novels selling for the same price as 10k word shorts.

I'd also add that many Agatha Christie books are in the 60k range, so I'd argue that it's not an unreasonable length for a separately published book as long as it stands alone fairly well.
Unfortunately, my Kobos have died, and I am pretty much stuck in Amazon's ecosystem. (I need to update my devices lists).
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#10  crich70 05-01-2019, 05:16 PM
Quote gmw
Both word and page counts for ebooks can also be distorted by the inclusion of teaser chapters from other books. It can be a surprise when reading to find that, instead of the expected 50 pages to go, you've suddenly reached the end.


If, as haertig suggests, the real problem/complaint is not wanting to buy into an incomplete story (at least until it is finished), then length doesn't really matter. You can be just as disappointed in a long book that doesn't finish as a short one (perhaps more so because of the time spent).
I remember reading a book about writing where the author complained about that. He/she had read the 1st book of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and didn't realize it was only the 1st third of a long novel that had to be split into 3 parts due to length. Now days of course with digital tech that isn't such a problem. I've found at least one book that was in 3 parts. I bought the epubs and joined them together in Calibre.

Another problem with ebooks is when a person initially offers a book for free and then down the road decides to charge for it. I understand that it is their right to do so but at the same time if you add such a book to your library over at a site like Smashwords and then it becomes a book you have to pay for you suddenly have to pay for a book that was already in your library. That's one problem at least that you don't have at sites like Amazon. If you buy it during a period when it's offered for free it still stays in your library even after the price changes.
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