Let’s Talk: Is the average book size getting bigger, or am I imagining things?

lets-talk

Much like last week’s discussion, this is a thought that has always been lurking in the back of my mind.

I’ve been reading books ever since I COULD read books. And when being around something that long, it’s hard not to notice when things change.

Not that it changed quickly. But still, I’m sure it’s there. Unless I’m imagining things again.

So have books gradually gotten bigger over the years?

explained

As mentioned before, I’ve read all my life. Besides the obvious changes in size and difficulty as I grew older, the change seems to be creeping up more and more. I remember for years – probably until I was around 15/16 years old – I remember thinking to myself that a 3oo page book was around average size for the things I liked to read. When the pages crept up to 400-500, I’d class it as a “long read“.

But over the past couple of years, that average has definitely gone up. Now, books with 400/500 pages would easily be considered my average size read, and anything less would make me think “Oh! I should get through this quickly.”

And it’s not that my reading tastes have changed much. My favourite genres are still the same as they’ve always been. If anything, I’ve delved into more genres over the past year, only to find that they too have a 400 page average.

Buuuuut…I’m pretty sure there may be ways of explaining this leap into larger territory.

popular-books

It’s no secret that the books I read tend to be the newer ones with all the hype. If you scroll through my list of reviews, you’ll probably recognise the majority of the titles even if you haven’t read them yourself.

…so is it just a fact that newer books lately tend to be around 400 pages long? Is it just a case of authors writing longer stories? Is it just me, always reaching for the newer books?

genre

Though my reading tastes in genre haven’t changed much – other than my exploring more genres in general – I feel like my tastes HAVE grown within the genre. Let me explain.

Fantasy is my favourite genre. And I’m pretty sure it’s common for fantasy books to be larger than other genres anyway, thanks to the added world building that you might not need in contemporary books (for example). Over the years, it’s this world building I’ve grown most fond of. It’s the thing I love most about fantasy books, imagining this whole new world *cue rendition of Aladdin*. So maybe, just maybe, I’ve subconsciously been reaching for the larger books from the genre, hoping for that new epic fantasy world I long for so much.

me

Because here’s the thing: I’m not that intimidated by big books anymore.

I’ve read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series. I’ve read the first two Outlander books. I’ve read Winter. The Name of the Wind. My point being – all of these books are between the 800-1000 page mark. So compared to those, 400 pages is a doddle!

That, combined with my love for complicated story lines, great world building and lovable characters…well it’d be hard not to have longer books over the years.



So now it’s your turn!

Do you think the average book size has increased over the years?

Does it put you off at all? 

Do you prefer longer books or shorter books?

Do you think there’s any particular reason books might’ve gotten longer over the years?

Join the discussion in the comments!

Until next time…

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38 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Is the average book size getting bigger, or am I imagining things?

  1. I think you’re probably right. Obviously font size and line spacing can make a book look bigger or smaller, so who knows what publishers are doing in that regards. Page number isn’t necessarily indicative of word count. However, I know Tamora Pierce said that she used to be given pretty strict word limits for her YA books, but after Harry Potter proved people would read longer books, she was given more leeway to write longer books as well. (So you can see some of her later books are actually longer than her earlier ones.)

    Also, I follow the publishing industry and I thought it was pretty standard to suggest YA book manuscripts should be 75,000-90,000 words (with only fantasy towards the high end, to account for time spent world-building). However, I have a friend who queried a YA fantasy who got a rejection from an agent that essentially said “Your manuscript is under 100,000 words and that’s ridiculous. I don’t consider any YA fantasy that’s not 100,000 words as a minimum.” So I guess that’s where publishing is going, though I doubt most agents are actually no longer looking at 80,000 word books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I suppose now that publishers have seen that people will actually read and love big books (I mean, look at Harry Potter/Game of Thrones/ Outlander), there’s more leeway, like you said.

      I can’t believe a publisher would actually reject a book just because of word count! I’m no good at estimating word count to page count, but surely it’s not about the amount of words? Though there’s quite a lot of smaller fantasy books out there, so I doubt all publishers will be like that.

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      1. Yup! I think Harry Potter changed the game completely with YA as a genre, not just fantasy. That series proved that younger audiences would be willing to commit to the time, effort, and focus for a longer novel. I think publishers were just concerned that those books wouldn’t see.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you’re right. Personally, I prefer to read fantasy or historical fiction and the books are getting longer. It doesn’t put me of at all, it’ll just take me some time to finish it. Worldbuilding = life, so to be honest I’m quite glad that the books are increasing in size :’)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If more pages means more world building, I’m all for it 😀 It especially helps with those times where you’re enjoying a book so much you don’t want it to end – you get to read it for longer at least!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that books have got bigger personally. But depending on the genre I do kind of like it.. as long as it doesnt just drag out the story unnecessarily .x

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  4. I definitely agree with you! Books just seem to be getting longer and longer these days, but I do think it’s because we as readers want longer and longer books. I definitely agree that it seems to be more fantasy books than anything else getting longer, most contemporaries I read are usually around 300 pages still.

    Lauren @ My Expanding Bookshelf</a

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All the newer contemporaries I’ve read are still hitting that 400 page mark, though I feel like that’s more on my part than there actually being a change. Fantasy books are definitely known for needing the extra pages though. I have a fantasy book that’s only about 200 pages long, and I remember everyone being so confused by it when it was released because it just didn’t seem like enough (especially since it’s a standalone) 😆

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  5. I think books are getting longer. I’m not sure if the word counts are all that much higher, but the spines of the books do seem a bit thicker. I wonder if the font/spacing/layout if being manipulated to make the books larger to make the book appear to be a better value for its price.

    I’d rather read a book that has an interesting premise or has been recommended to me, but I imagine there are people out there that pick one book over another because there appears to be more story to one of the books.

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  6. I think the average size has definitely creeped up, however I still look for a book that’s only of a certain size when looking for a book to read for my commutes. Lugging a 700+ page book in your bag isn’t fun haha so I try to find books around the 300 page mark. Fantasy books all definitely seem to be longer but there is that great world building in there so 500+ pages never feels like its a drag.

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    1. I definitely agree with you that carrying a 700 page book isn’t fun ahaha! Sometimes, if you’re really enjoying a book though, it’s just gotta be done 🙂 It’s interesting to hear you look for certain size books! I never do that, if the story sounds interesting, I’ll read it no matter the size.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It depends what book i’m looking for, like if im looking for one specifically for my commutes into uni then I definitely go smaller because I study English lit so I have to carry books im studying that day too! But generally I pick up any book for home, work etc 🙂

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  7. Do you think the average book size has increased over the years? – Overall, yes, but I’m not surprised. Look at long movies are getting. There’s this stupid idea that’s taken old that “getting our money’s worth” means MORE content, not necessarily better QUALITY content.

    Does it put you off at all? – A bit, yes, since I feel like there’s been less original writing, less talent showing up, etc.

    Do you prefer longer books or shorter books? – Depends – the book needs to be the size it needs to be. Ben Bova’s Mars was over 500 pages, but it needed to be that length, whereas the Twilight books, for instance, could have easily been 200+ pages less.

    Do you think there’s any particular reason books might’ve gotten longer over the years? – See first answer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a very interesting way of looking at it. I’ve known people who are reluctant to buy smaller books, purely because they’re the same price as the larger ones. But the reminder that it’s “quality over quantity” that matters needs to be said more often 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. As I mentioned above, I think the reason books are getting longer in the YA/MG reading levels has to do with Harry Potter. JK Rowling proved that the length of the text doesn’t matter to the reader– it’s the content. I don’t really feel like the contemporary adult novels I’m reading are much longer than some of the older ones, though. I do feel like cookbooks are getting longer… but that’s because they are competing with the endless information of the internet.

    As far as preference, length isn’t a deterrant for me. It’s the density of the writing. For example, I’ve been reading Tender is the Night (literary fiction) by F. Scott Fitzgerald for almost 10 weeks now– it’s 317 pages. Yet, I recently finished Threats of Sky and Sea (YA fantasy) by Jennifer Ellision in less than 48 hours. It’s 360 pages. So, it depends how much mental effort I want to put in my reading.

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  9. I definitely feel like the average size of a book has gone up. I remember reading books that were 200 pages long and I would get through those so fast, but I thought it was the average size of a book. I mean all of the books published in the earlier 80’s – 90’s were like 100-150 pages. Like the murder mystery book series’.

    The debut books are also a lot smaller than each of it’s following books, but that’s easily because the author doesn’t want the reader to get bored before getting into the story. Once we’ve read the first book in a series the size of the books in the series after that don’t concern us. We’ve already fallen in love with the characters and the world etc.

    I definitely don’t bat an eyelid at a 600 page book anymore.

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m glad fantasy is your fave genre, because it’s mine, too!
    I think books ARE getting longer…I think the storytelling in YA books is getting better, and because of that, they don’t pander to the belief that the audience has a short attention span anymore. When I was younger and in the “YA” age range, there weren’t really YA books like there are now. There were serials like the Sweet Valley High series or Fear Street, but nothing like it is now. I think Twilight was one of the bigger books of its time and proved that YA readers could handle more story. I’m glad the books have gotten longer: I look at a book and if it’s less than 200 pages I don’t even bother anymore. It’s not to say that the book will be bad, but I have a hard time believing the story could be very developed in such a short time, you know?
    As you said, you’ve read some books with almost 1,000 pages, and most times those are reserved for adults. I’m glad that they be deemed YA readers patient enough to read a longer book.
    Good topic! 🙌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely down to people realising a YA audience WILL actually read. A lot of people don’t realise how many people like to read. And I agree with you about not quite trusting the shorter books to fit everything in!

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  11. If you compare the Animorphs books (1990s) to the later Harry Potter books (2000s), the size difference is incredible. I mean, they’re both technically MG series that get incredibly dark over time, but Animorphs remain under 200 pages and Harry Potter…well, we all know how long Harry Potter get. I can’t remember where I read/heard it, but I did hear that the Harry Potter series is actually responsible for kid/teen/young people in general books getting longer because it made people realise that young people were happy to read longer books. I have no idea why you’d see the same trend in books written for an adult audience though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it makes sense for Harry Potter to be seen as the “turning point” for increased book sizes, especially in YA. Other age ranges just don’t really have an apparent reason!

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  12. I definitely feel that books are getting longer, across all genres. I’ve particularly noticed it in literary fiction (where it seems like it’s now not uncommon to have books run to 600, 700, even 800+ pages) and also contemporary YA, which used to be 60,000-80,000 words, but I’ve read a lot lately that run well over 80,000. I’m with you in that I quite enjoy a doorstop (I loved The Goldfinch and The Luminaries and I’m looking forward to Barkskins when I get the time), but I’ve also found that a lot of books have felt needlessly long of late, and full of unnecessary detail, flabby prose and exposition. I wonder if it has to do with a decrease in publishers’ budgets? Manuscripts not going through as many edits pre-publication? Maybe it’s linked to the trend towards TV series over film–we want longer narratives (i.e. that span multiple seasons rather than a 90min film)? I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s definitely some books that just have no need to be that long – and quite often it’s obvious which. Whatever the reason, I suppose it depends on the person and mood whether it’s a good or bad thing *shrugs*

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