The rise of the non-book

July 7th, 2017 by Bob Bly

I call it “the rise of the non-book.”

I’m talking about the increasing number of extremely short Kindle
e-books being published and sold on Amazon.

My FB friend TJ describes Kindle as a place “where anyone can
string 10,000 words together, make a cover, call it a book, and
present it to the world.”

Back in the day, when I wrote my first book in 1981, you had to
write an actual book to become a “real” author.

For a 200-page trade paperback or hardcover book, that meant
writing, on average, about 80,000 words.

Not a monumental task, but quite a bit of work.

Among my 93 published books (plus two more under contract and
being written by me even as you read this email), most are around
200 pages.

Yes, a few are only around 100 pages. And I have written half a
dozen published children’s books which are even shorter.

However, these short ones balance out with several adult
nonfiction titles that are over 300 pages … and one that is a
whopping 800 pages — “The Advertising Manager’s Handbook,”
published by Prentice-Hall.

But today, as TJ points out, you can write a short document —
just 10,000 words, 5,000 words, or even less — slap a nice cover
on it, create a Kindle e-book, and sell it online.

When people see it on Amazon, most don’t realize it is a
glorified report or article — and they mistake it for the author
having written a real full-length book.

To self-promoters who want to inflate their guru status,
publishing a series of short pieces as individual Kindle e-books
is a quick and easy way to make yourself look like a more
prolific book author than you really are.

But for actual book authors, like me, it devalues your work and
production — because to the untrained eye, it looks like everyone
has written as many books as you have.

This is why I am a fan of paperbound books over Kindle e-books,
and of books sold by mainstream publishing houses vs.
self-published.

Having a paperbound book with a major publisher doesn’t guarantee
quality.

But at least the book has been vetted at several levels beyond
the author himself — including the literary agent, publishing
house editorial committee (they make the decision whether to buy
and publish your book), book editor, copy editor, and
proofreader.

I know many of you today are self-publishing and Kindle fanatics.

But to borrow phrasing from “Make Mine Marvel” Stan Lee, “Make
mine McGraw-Hill (or Macmillan, or Morrow.)”

You get the idea.

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1 response about “The rise of the non-book”

  1. Horst Woolen said:

    Booklets that help “self-promoters who want to inflate their guru status” is a flimsy objection. What if they were called, say, “booklet”? Also, many full-length books are puffed up just to make them look like real books while lacking enough substance to really be one.

    Your other argument really takes the cake. “the book has been vetted at several levels beyond
    the author himself — including the literary agent, publishing
    house editorial committee (they make the decision whether to buy
    and publish your book), book editor, copy editor, and
    proofreader.” What world do you live in that still has copy editors and agents?

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