Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post - E-Book or an E-Novel? by Alain Gomez

Short story aficionado Alain Gomez shares with you some information on different types of literature now available to e-book readers. Be sure to check out her blog, http://shortstorysymposium.blogspot.com/ for more information on her short stories!

E-books have definitely changed what is available to me as a reader. I find myself going to physical bookstores less and less. Consequently, I'm no longer stuck just immediately gravitating to the tiny little section of shelves that usually contains something I might like to read. Amazon has changed that for me. I admit, I'm totally addicted to the "customers also bought bar." The only time I ever even use their "search" feature is when I know exactly which title I'm looking for.

While I think most people who have e-readers will recount similar changes to their reading tastes, I think something people are less aware of are the changes in what type of things are available in e-book format. A "book" does not necessarily mean "novel." A novel is a type of literary genre. There are certain style elements in them and they usually have to be at least 40,000 words in length.

It might surprise you to know that not every e-book you purchase is a novel. Many of the e-books published today are closer to what is termed "novella." Like the novel, the novella is also a literary genre. Generally, a novella reads a lot like a simplistic novel due to the fact that it is shorter in length (17,000 - 40,000 words). A lot of people like this length because it's a fast read.

Which leads us to the "short story." The short story is, yet again, another literary genre. But the word length on this particular category (1,000 - 8,000) completely changes what kind of experience you should expect to get. Yes, it is an "e-book." But that doesn't mean it's an "e-novel." The short story has different goals. It's not written with the intent of being the first chapter of a book. It's not written to try and rip the reader off. It's designed to unfold an entire experience with as few words as possible.

As a reader, it's very important to be aware of what you're getting yourself into. Make a concerted effort to figure out what kind of story the author is trying to tell before you buy an e-book. Otherwise it's like watching a half hour TV show expecting it to be a full-length movie. The TV show may not have been bad, but you're bound to be disappointed due to the expectations you had going in. With e-books we kind of lost the whole "seeing how thick the book is" element to shopping. So take a few extra seconds to see what the summary says about the book.

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