Lynn started the week out by talking about one type of series books in Series Serendipity – the category romance books that we see coming out every month in a variety of lines. However, sometimes when readers are talking series, we’re just talking about interrelated sets of books from an author. And, love them or hate them, there seem to be a lot of interconnected series out there these days!
Now don’t hold me to academic research standards because I’ll say up front that I just looked at one month and two sources. But these two sources do indicate how prevalent series books are in today’s fiction. Fictfact’s calendar for August shows 299 books being released that are part of a series while FictionDB is on the record with 653 new releases total for the month. That means that of these books over forty five percent are interconnected in some way to another book. Of the seventy five recently reviewed books here, fifty books (or 67%) are interconnected.
Series can be a win win for both the author and the reader. I don’t need to spend a lot of time speaking about the pro and cons for you as a reader because by now you have experienced them: the pleasure of revisiting favorite characters and worlds, the feeling of waiting for an highly anticipated book and then the joy when it is finally released, the delight as the you slowly grow to know the characters, and then the wonder as the puzzle pieces of a larger story fall into place. Contrast that with large emotional and time investment series book demand of readers only to find that the author’s vision is unexpected, or the characterization is inconsistent from book to book, or even that a character dies. And don’t forget that you can become hooked on a series and then find out that the publisher feels they are not selling well enough or the author moves to another publishing house, ending the series prematurely without closure. Then there is the feeling of being strung along as one character’s story is delayed for years or the whole thing just ends with a cliffhanger. An additional downside I suspect for authors of successful series would be that of being pigeonholed into writing one type of book, and readers’ outcries as they try to break free of previous books’ restraints.
I didn’t always have ambivalent feelings about series books; sometimes I can’t help loving them. I still remember my joy in discovering that Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer was a spinoff of These Old Shades. From that point on, I had an almost unconditional love affair with these interconnecting books. My only nugget of dislike was related to having to wait for the next book to be released.
With so many books in a series, and the increased cost of books, I’ve finally had to address my compulsion to finish a series. In the past, no matter how much I disliked the last book, I was psychologically unable to resist continuing with the next book because of my great need for closure. Luckily this has changed in part due to some of the disadvantages mentioned above. Now, I don’t hooked as easily, and can now quit when a series no longer works for me . And let’s face it – I’ve read a lot of romance. Now it takes more than introducing multiple good-looking family members or friends for me to be captivated.
So, are you surprised at the number of books that are part of a series? Are you still convinced that you need closure on every series book that you start or do you quit when they no longer work for you? What motivates you to quit in the middle? Is it because you become bored, and the author’s changing direction? How many series books are you working on reading now?
– Leigh Davis