Impatience Is A Virtue

"Red Mars" was published in 1993.
“Red Mars” was published in 1993.
"Green Mars" was published in 1994.
“Green Mars” was published in 1994.
"Blue Mars" was published in 1996.
“Blue Mars” was published in 1996.

Science-fiction and fantasy books, typically, come in threes. I haven’t found an adequate answer as to why it’s that way, but that trend is now spreading to the rest of the book business, with a difference.

Where the “Mars” sequence—an award-winning science-fiction series by Kim Stanley Robinson—was considerably spaced apart, today’s publishers are upending their traditional schedule by “releasing titles at an accelerated pace.”

To cater to the impatient reader, whose insatiable appetite for serial storytelling continues to grow, editors are on the lookout for narratives “filled with unanswered questions” so that they can keep their readers asking for more than just one book.

What set the drift in this direction, in recent times, was “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the erotica trilogy by E. L. James, which showed the merits of publishing many installments, quickly, one after the other.

Random House took this fan fiction—originally printed by a small press in Australia—under its wings, and released its three volumes in paperback in under than a month. It went on to become the fastest-selling series ever.

This marketing strategy is fostering a new habit of “binge-reading”—a tendency to read to an excess of books by a single author or a series.

h/t: NYT


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