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Monday, October 7, 2013

To Serial or Not to Serial

I once again got caught by a free book on Amazon, yep I still love to browse and pick up a freebie when I can.  I have discovered some wonderful new authors that way and found myself with books that I probably would not have purchased but since they were free I'd give them a go.
Great! you say, and I would agree except for the new trend of offering books as serial reads.

Now I have to be honest with you..and I won't sugar coat it..I HATE serials.  I have many reasons for my strong feelings.  I think I am of an age when I remember reading serials in different women's magazines such as Redbook etc.  I remember my mother waiting each month for the next to come out and if she really enjoyed the story she would order the complete story in 1 book and pay a bit for it.  This exposed her to different romance authors and she got not only her magazine but a part of a book for her money.  I have to note this was huge since there was really not enough money for her to splurge on a magazine and she had to save for it each month.

The Serial series released these days are different.  You may be able to get the first one free on Amazon or Smashwords but the rest of the series you can pay from $.99 to $3.99 per volume.  Depending on how many volumes the story requires this could add up to pretty large dollars for a book.  So is this the publisher's way of gouging the book buyer? especially the ebook buyer?  Is this the author trying to get their stories out faster since they can release a few chapters at a time.   (Oh I should mention that these volumes are between 15-50 pages.) Which ever the reason in the end the book buyer usually ends up paying more for the book in serial form than they would have if the book had been released complete.

My other reasons ..other than money for disliking this format is that usually each volume ends in a cliffhanger,  The characters tend to be sketchy and the plots are jagged and  not smooth flowing.  If this doesn't happen then we see what we think is a HEA in a volume to later find out it was only a HFN(happy for now) and the hero(ine) moves on to another partner.  I hate this.

So after getting hooked into another serial from a freebie..which I note I WILL NOT buy the next ones.  I may wait until the entire serial is released and purchase the whole thing together. I decided to find out how my fellow readers felt, so I started a discussion thread on my favorite Goodreads Group 'Gotta Have Paranormal Romance with a Kick'.  This group has readers who enjoy various genre's and are pretty outspoken about their opinions.  So, let me quote some of the comments...

"The idea of taking a book and splitting it up into individually sold segments feels like...cheating by the publishers..."

"I don't read them. If a serial is released as a full book later and not at the price the serial would be if you added up all of the releases."

"For the most part serials annoy me. I *try* to stay away from them..."

"I have a love/hate relationship with them. I thought it was just a money grab at first but a few authors explained that they do it to write a story at a more relaxed pace. Several differ about the price point but most agree on the rationale. I'll read them and I have --as long as it doesn't take more than 4 books to tell the story"

"don't like them typically ..to short, high $$ for what you actually get, cliff hangers, sometimes poor character, and plot development"

"I have been suckered into a few - but try to avoid them most of the time. if the author needs to make installments on their book thats just sad..if the publishing company wants to make more money on the book - thats just criminal "

"Hate em. Won't read them on principle."

"Series I love. Serials not so much. "

"I'm not a fan of the serial book. I suppose its like a series of short stories. As a writer, I couldn't imagine splitting up my work. I would feel like I'm cheating readers."

"I loathe them"

"I won't buy one. Period. It just encourages publishers to do something that annoys me. "

"Also, some are just not acceptable to me:
Like 30 pages for $2.99

"I have tried reading serials many times to find that they are neither satisfying or worth what I paid. 99 cents or more is too much to pay for every installment, which is, basically, a short and incomplete story that continues on and on. Many seem to lack depth in plot or character development, even after the 3rd or 4th installment. "

There were several other comments basically echoing these...This makes me wonder, if this is the general opinion of the buying public why are we seeing more and more of these types of books? It also makes me think that if they are still publishing serials someone must be buying them.  I'm not sure who....

What do you think of the current trend in Serializing books?  Will you buy them? How about if  there are only 3 or 4 volumes or does it matter to you?  If you hate serials as much as I do ..Let your money make your statement...buy a full novel and forget the serial until the compendium is released.


  1. T brings up yet another great subject important to readers. Me? Firmly in the "Hate It" column. Yes, I got hooked in at first with that, Oooh! Free! thing as I trolled Amazon, et al. Didn't take long to figure out the scam and now, I only download full novels or novellas.

    I remember those serials in the magazines, too. My mom ate 'em up. Completely different thing from now, though. Then, you got bang for your 25 cents. Today it's just sad that people let themselves get ripped off. Won't tell anybody what to do, but the whole series WILL come out eventually at a much better price. In the meantime, perhaps you can attack Mt. TBR and finish that series (note NOT serial) that's been nagging at you. Just a thought. Thanks again, T, for bringing this up. Important!

  2. I agree with all the comments - especially poor characterisation, plot and cliff hangers. I don't like serials in general, I just prefer to read a full length novel.