First binge-watching, now binge-reading?(Read article summary)
Some publishers are embracing a 'binge-read' publication schedule in which installments in a series are released only a few months after the last. Will readers respond?
Everyoneâs familiar with the concept of binge-watching â settling in for an evening or weekend (or, if youâre committing to a long-haul series, a few days) and getting through multiple episodes or seasons of a TV show as if you were downing handfuls of candy.
So has binge-reading now arrived?
The âFifty Shades of Greyâ series, erotic bestsellers by author E.L. James, set the template by releasing the three books within only a few months of each other (the first came out in June 2011, with âFifty Shades Darkerâ following in September and âFifty Shades Freedâ coming out that next January). Now this monthâs âAnnihilationâ by Jeff VanderMeer, which was named one of Amazon's 10 best books of February and follows scientists journeying to a locale known only as Area X, will be followed by the second book in the series this coming May. The third book is scheduled to arrive in September.
Are the days in which fans waited years for a new installment (there was a three-year gap between âHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fireâ and âHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenixâ) long-gone?
Publisher Dutton is releasing a sequel to the new novel âArchetypeâ by M.D. Waters five months after it published the first, and Dutton associate publisher Christine Ball told the New York Times theyâre just filling a need.
âConsumers want to be able to binge-read or binge-watch,â she said. âWe wanted to give the consumers what they wanted in this case.â
Sean McDonald, an editor at âAnnihilationâ publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux, was the source of the idea to release all three novels within a few months of one another. He said itâs a way to satisfy readers who are intrigued by an authorâs ideas but who then wonder if the writer has an endgame in place.
Â âI think people are more aware of series storytelling, and there is this sense of impatience, or maybe a fear of frustration,â he said. âWe wanted to make sure people knew that there were answers to these questions.â
There is a risk â if a book isnât a hit, publishers have already committed to the next installments, and as noted by Krys Tourtois of Michiganâs Schuler Books and Music, sometimes a novel needs time for the word to get out.Â
âI know in the past that the one-year mark seems to increase a lot of hype and buzz, and it gives it time for a title to build,â Tourtois told the NYT. âYou think about what happened with âHarry Potterâ â the timing helped make a phenomenon.â