Sunday, 27 February 2011


Have you heard of granularisation?
No, I hadn’t either. Until I peeked at the Bookseller. Evidently it’s the new trend - 'splitting content into shorter and smaller bits so that revenue can be increased and at the same time cater effectively to the digital consumers who read less deeply and who often want information in byte-sized chunks.'

If this goes on, we’ll all be reduced to writing a book of less than 140 words. Twittering, indeed. What of any importance can be said in 140 words?
Some publishers, including Cambridge University Press, now write contracts that ensure permission to employ granularisation as it suits them. And it isn’t happening only to non-fiction. Short stories are becoming increasingly tempting to publishers. Nora Roberts is being short-storied now, if you’ll excuse the flagrant disregard of the rules of English grammar. (But hey, if sportspeople can medal these days, why can’t authors be storied?)

They say it allows people to try an author’s voice and see if they like it before they buy a more expensive normal-length book. But really, if I wanted to try an author’s voice, I’d test it in a bookshop by reading the first page – ha! That’s why first pages are so important! Or I’d spend £6.99 and buy the wretched thing. After all, in these days of cinema tickets costing around £8.50, DVDs £17 and a glass of wine selling at somewhere around £4, it’s not the cost that stops people buying, believe me.
It’s not rocket science. People will buy a short story because they want something short. Some people like short stories, others hate them. Busy mums are said to like Mills & Boon because they’re pick upable in the periods of peace and put downable in the periods of action in a home with small children, amongst other reasons. But I reckon the busy mum wants something that will keep her attention longer than thirty minutes. How many times have you heard someone say ‘it was just getting interesting when it finished?’

I’d almost be willing to take a wager that short stories by Nora Roberts will suit only those confirmed readers of short stories. The rest of us will avoid them like the plague.

I was getting quite interested in World Book Night on 5th March, following the thirty minute discussions between Ann Robinson and various readers on BBC tv with interest. Now I find that there is a hoo-ha over the whole thing. Read: including the comments and see what you think.

1 comment:

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