Binge Reading

Thanks to Netflix and other media streaming services, we now have the ability to “binge watch” entire series on our computers or our televisions, which, by all accounts, has completely revolutionized the way we watch tv. Netflix original programming releases an entire season of a series in one shot, removing the agony of waiting and reruns. Binge-watching has become such a phenomenon that Collins Dictionary UK has declared it their word of the year.

In fact, Binge-Watching is so much of a phenomenon that publishers are latching on to this idea, and are attempting to spawn a new phenomenon- binge-reading!

About 3 years ago, Canadian author Eric Walters approached his publisher Orca Books with a revolutionary idea. He wanted to publish a group of 7 linked adventure novels and release them simultaneously. Crazy? For a publishing world used to releasing a series one book at a time over the course of months or years, it might have seemed so, but Walters and Orca struck gold with the concept. Readers could purchase the entire set all at once, and there was no waiting for the next book. They could finish one and move onto the next without ever having to miss a beat. Series such as Conspiracy 365 and The Last Thirteen started by releasing a few titles at a time, and then one a month over a short period, and they also gained traction with audiences who appreciated the shorter turn-around time for the next book.

As someone who often reads book one of a new series and never quite makes it back to the next one when it comes out a year or two later, I love this idea. I hate waiting for the next book. I hate waiting for the next episode for that matter, and don’t even get me started on waiting over mid-season and summer hiatuses. The longer the wait between books, the less detail I’ll remember about the first book, and it takes away from my reading experience to keep trying to play catch-up and remember what happened in the previous book which was probably 100+ books ago for me. If I have immediate access to the rest of the books in the trilogy/series, I will likely read them all in one shot. While Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is by no means finished, having all 8 books in the series on my shelf has made it much more appealing for me to read the entire series. As soon as I finished one, I could pick up another, and another, and so on. I’m currently 1/3 of the way into book 5, but with fall being as busy as it is, my binge-reading of the series will have to wait until the next time I have an extended break.

According to an article I came across today on http://publishingperspectives.com/2015/11/forget-binge-watching-try-binge-reading/?utm_content=buffer659af&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#.Vk-AM3arS71, market research is showing that more and more kids are binge-reading popular series fiction such as Wimpy Kid, and that readers tend to buy all of the volumes of a series at once rather than gradually. For an author, publishing more rapidly can lead to increased sales, in that you can keep building on the momentum of your first book. My customers love series that have multiple volumes available at once, because they all tell me that with kids, you need at least 3 to make an impact on the shelf and get discovered.

Are there any drawbacks to this? Possibly. I’m sure there will be numerous studies that later show we are feeding the “now” impulse and not teaching kids (or adults) the value of patience or delayed gratification. There have also been hints that the more books an author is pushed to publish in a year, the greater a chance that the quality of writing will suffer, which also isn’t a good thing for publishers, authors or readers.

Regardless of the pros and cons (of which I’m sure there are many), it looks like the era of binge-reading is gradually coming upon us, and I for one, am happy to embrace it. Now please excuse me while I dive back into my latest series. 😉

7 Responses to Binge Reading

  1. Alexa S. Nov 23 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    There are certain series where I can tolerate the wait between books, but for the most part, I definitely prefer to binge my book series when I can. I just find it so satisfying to be able to move on to the next part of a story right away, and to be able to read all the way to the very end without a pause in between!

  2. Marc Vun Kannon Nov 23 2015 at 2:37 pm #

    I did that once. I got The Lord of the Rings for Christmas and read it in four days. I read the first 4 Harry Potter books in one go, as well, and I picked up all the Tom Clancy novels and a bunch of Dean Koontz books in one go, too. The downside to binge-reading is that I very quickly picked up on a number of authorial foibles that might have gone unnoticed had I been reading the books further apart, or with other books in between. It does detract from the experience somewhat. The author’s flaw’s and weaknesses become magnified.
    I have the same problem binge-watching TV shows. It allows a resonance to the flaws that they would not otherwise have, sort of a ‘Not Again!’ feeling. I do like to be able to see the whole story at once, but this only works when the weaknesses of the story are few.

  3. Eugene Nov 24 2015 at 10:08 am #

    Great article! I haven’t binge read in years, but when I was younger I used to read every book in a series and every book by an author as quickly as possible. I think as I got older, there were so many new books and authors I wanted to try out, I wanted to read more widely.

    Now I don’t always read every book in a series, even when it’s available, unless it’s something I really get caught up in. For instance, I’m going to read the third book in Jaclyn Moriarty’s Colors of Madeline series as soon as it’s out! But I think I also sometimes “save” books — I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy the next book in a series I like, or the next book from an author, and if I don’t read it right away, it’ll be there when I want it. I still haven’t read all of Octavia E. Butler’s works, though I own them, and now that she’s no longer with us, I’m kind of rationing them out because that’s all there is.

    And there’s also the loss of momentum. If too much time passes between books, I forget details from the previous installment, and maybe the excitement and shine has worn off a bit.

    As for binge watching, I think now that TV seasons usually have an overall arc and episodes are more closely related, you don’t feel you’re really getting the whole story until you’ve seen them all. To me, TV episodes have always been like short stories, and now they’re all linked into a big novel, for a more immersive experience.

  4. Jordin @ A Bottomless Book Bag Nov 24 2015 at 11:37 am #

    I love binge reading, more specifically I love binge rereading. When Harry Potter was coming out, I would reread all the books before the new releases. While I don’t always have time to do that with all the series I’m reading, it’s really enjoyable when I make the time for it. Also, I love binge reading when I discover a new-to-me author and can read all of their backlist. So while I’m intrigued by the concept of releasing all the books in a series at once, it’s not super necessary for binge reading.

  5. Bess Nov 24 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    As a reader, I love this idea. As an aspiring author, I dread it. I feel like it would put an impossible amount of pressure on a writer, or delay publication by several years.

    • Marc Vun Kannon Nov 24 2015 at 2:34 pm #

      It would certainly inhibit the use of cliffhanger endings.

  6. Monica Lugo Nov 24 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    I am a 100% binge reader! When searching for a new book to read I always search for sequels because one book stories just isn’t enough! The more books in a sequel, the more enticing it is for me to read, however,waiting for the next installments on book series truly is torture! The idea of a Netflix for books is music to my ears!!

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