DOES SIZE MATTER? GUEST POST FROM GAV READS

09 July 2014

By Gavin Pugh

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Thick or Thin?

Before you get the wrong impression this post is about the size of books. The spines in the photo below are roughly arranged from thinnest to thickest (from left to right) with page counts raging from 244 to 1086. That’s a huge difference in word count but I’d argue that a story's value isn’t about how many pages it covers, but by what’s going on between those covers.

bookshelf

Part of me is curious does size matter when it comes to readers choosing what book to pick next? With George R. R. Martin and Peter F. Hamilton you get a lot of story for your money but should size matter? Lots of people love The Wasp Factory but it’s a fifth of the size, so does being smaller reduce its chances of getting picked up? Or is it, in fact, a point in its favour?

Lots of older SF novels seem to be  thinner. My SF Masterworks' shelf seems to have more books on it than my other shelves (as does my classic crime shelf now I come to think of it) and for me that makes it look more accessible, in terms of time and complexity of story.

For me thicker spines, therefore larger page extents, mean weeks of reading. Luckily, someone like Peter F. Hamilton makes every page count, but I always worry that the 'thicker' the novel, the greater a commitment of my time it will take.

So what do you think? Does the size of the spine influence your willingness to read a book?