Thursday, August 14, 2008

Choosing a book to read? Size matters

Let's be honest, sometimes even the most prolific readers find those huge rambling tomes too daunting to tackle. True confessions: books I want to read but have not because they are too long; War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy (1296 pages); The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (1312 pages); The Power Broker (a biography of Robert Moses) by Robert A. Caro (1344 pages). You get the idea. And I am not alone. Publishers are wary of very long books as they are harder to sell. Book groups avoid choosing marathon books—at least mine does. But there is hope, as abridged books catch on and grow in popularity.

In a recent item in Booklist, librarian David Wright confesses to enjoying a new series of abridged books from Penguin. "I've been seduced," writes Wright. "I'm a sucker for a great publishing gimmick, and those sporty new abridged series from Penguin had my number." At Select Editions, we've been abridging books for more than 50 years. We editors love becoming completely immersed in a good juicy book for hours on end, but truth be told, who has the time? Half a century later, condensation's day has come!


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