Monday, September 2, 2013

Serial Books

I am sure most of you are aware of the fact that I really am not a huge fan of the serial format. Mostly because I read way to fast and fro me.. a book that is part of a series is a "seral" book. Seriously, they come out too far apart so getting one book in serial format would drive me bonkers. 

This is not a new thing for me, I was "that" kid in school. You know the one who read the entire book instead of just the assigned chapters. It's not in my making to read a book only part way through. But that's me! And that's an important statement. I personally prefer my books to come all together.. BUT there is an entire market out there for people who feel differently. 

Those people who either don't read much, or read slowly, or get intimidated by "big" books. There are also those who don't or can't fit a lot of reading into their schedule.. Or.. I am sure there are tons of other reasons. Maybe it's the fiction of being able to think you are getting the book sooner that way. Who knows? Honestly, who cares, they like serial books.. And now the market is offering them that option again. 

Again? yes again.. Serial books have been around forever. Initially it was a way to get stories out there. Face it, back in the day.. when people couldn't really afford books, no one wanted to print a "story" they were much more highbrow.. After all those darn stories wouldn't last.. it was a fad (you know like the bikini). But amazingly enough the stories took off.. and over time they became *gasp* classics.. Some very famous authors wrote serials.. (note the highlighted names below)

Definition of a serial book:

"Serialized fiction surged in popularity during Britain's Victorian era, due to a combination of the rise of literacy, technological advances in printing, and improved economics of distribution.A significant majority of 'original' novels from the Victorian era actually first appeared in either monthly or weekly installments in magazines or newspapers.The wild success of Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, first published in 1836, is widely considered to have established the viability and appeal of the serialized format within periodical literature. During that era, the line between "quality" and "commercial" literature was not distinct.

In the German speaking countries, the serialized novel was widely popularized by the weekly family magazine Die Gartenlaube, which reached a circulation of 382,000 by 1875.

In France Alexander Dumas and Eugene Sue were masters of the serialized genre. The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo both appeared as a Feuilleton. The Count of Monte Cristo was stretched out to 139 installments. Eugene Sue’s serial novel Le Juif errant increased circulation from 3,600 to 25,000 of the Le Constitutionnel. Production in book form soon followed and serialization was one of the main reasons that nineteenth-century novels were so long. Authors and publishers kept the story going if it was successful since authors were paid by line and by episode.

Some writers were prolific. Alexander Dumas wrote at an incredible pace, oftentimes writing with his partner twelve to fourteen hours a day, working on several novels for serialized publication at once.

However, not every writer could keep up with the serial writing pace. Wilkie Collins, for instance, was never more than a week before publication. The difference in writing pace and output in large part determined the author's success, as audience appetite created demand for further installments. 

While American periodicals first syndicated British writers, over time they drew from a growing base of domestic authors. The rise of the periodicals like Harpers and the Atlantic Monthly grew in symbiotic tandem with American literary talent. The magazines nurtured and provided an economic sustainability for writers, while the writers helped grow the periodicals' circulation base. During the late 19th century, those that were considered the best American writers first published their work first in serial form and then only later in a completed volume format. As a piece in Scribner's Monthly explained in 1878, it is only the "second and third rate novelist who could not get published in a magazine and is obliged to publish in a volume, and it is in a magazine that the best novelists always appear first." Among the American writers that wrote in serial form were Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Herman Melville. A large part of the appeal for writers at the time was the broad audiences that serialization could reach, which would then grow their following for published works.

One of the first significant American works to be released in serial format is Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which was published over a 40-week period by National Era, an abolitionist periodical, starting with the June 5, 1851 issue.

Serialization was so standard in American literature that authors from that era often built installment structure into their creative process. Henry James, for example, often had his works divided into multi-part segments of similar length.The consumption of fiction during that time was different than the 20th century. Instead of being read in single volume, a novel would often be consumed by readers in installments over a period as long as a year, with the authors and periodicals often responding to audience reaction.

Serialization was also popular throughout Europe. In France, Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary was serialized in La Revue de Paris in 1856. In Russia, The Russian Messenger serialized Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina from 1873 to 1877 and Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov from 1879 to 1880.

Other famous English language writers who wrote serial literature for popular magazines included Wilkie Collins, inventor of the English detective novel and author of The Moonstone; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the Sherlock Holmes stories originally for serialization in The Strand magazine; and the Polish writer BolesÅ‚aw Prus, author of the serialized novels The Outpost (1885–86), The Doll (1887–89), The New Woman (1890–93) and his sole historical novel, Pharaoh (the latter, exceptionally, written entire over a year's time in 1894–95 and serialized only after completion, in 1895–96)." *Wikipedia (yeah I know but it had all the facts I gathered elsewhere in one nice article"

Oh My:

Charles Dickens

Alexander Dumas
Eugene Sue
Wilkie Collins
Henry James
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Herman Melville
Gustave Flaubert
Leo Tolstoy
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I write this today because I read this review on amazon about an author's book. Now a review is supposed to be about the book. Yes, I got a bit irked when an author made a snarky comment about how a review is written.. but I will agree that when you write a book review, you are reviewing the book.. Have I emphasized that enough? My reason for asking is.. well let me show you the review:

"I'm of the mindset that if your book or game is any good, you don't need to resort to sleazy tactics to sell your books. Selling "parts" of a book falls under sleazy tactics. You might have had something here if you hadn't resorted to 1940's sucker techniques. Needless to say, I will not fall for this. I've seen amazing authors sell their books, and full books at that, for a portion of what this kind of nonsense will steal from people. And BTW-- a full 13% of this book was ads. You really don't have much respect for your readers, do you?"

Except for declaring that this book was a serial book, do you see anything.. I mean anything telling you about the book? Yeah me neither. 

This reviewer was abusing her Amazon Reviewing responsibility.. You are supposed to actually review a product.. not make snarky, and less than accurate remarks. Obviously, her intelligence is limited.. I mean she failed to get her facts straight on when serial books originated. She was also insulting an entire generation or two of people. Those books in the 1940's were important. They brought, entertainment to a dark time.. So, stupid and insulting. Sorry, but I am a firm believer that if you are going to insult someone or something get your facts straight. 

But I have to agree with her, I mean those authors mentioned above are surely beyond contempt, having never written anything that was meaningful, creative, talented or wait.. long living! 

So what do you think? Are you a fan of the serial novel? Or do you agree with the reviewer who needs to denigrate an author for trying something "old". I won't mention the author or book this review was about but I will say that three of my absolute favorite authors are selling serial books.. (if I could just get them to send me the entire book in advance I would be such a happy camper).


Caution to one and all.. this is a repost of what I wrote on my review blog Tea and Book.. I am compelled to share my thoughts far and wide (lol) and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject

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