Subscribe to The Horn Book

>Spring Fashions

>Last night I attended a dinner honoring a new author, Catherine Murdock, whose first YA novel, Dairy Queen, is being published by Houghton Mifflin next month. Chatting with Murdock’s editor Margaret Raymo, I mentioned that we had received yet another door-stopper (I refer only to size) of a review copy yesterday, a new Aidan Chambers novel clocking in at 808 pages. Says Margaret, “well, long is the new black.”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. GraceAnne says:

    >I blame it all on word processing.

  2. >I couldn’t believe it when I saw the blog today. I had just moments before sent the following e-mail to an academic friend:

    I just thought I would submit to you, in the lofty heights of academia, as a person who influences upcoming generations of librarians, my suggestion for a slight modification to the fiction section of children’s rooms and school libraries: We need a “Big Fat Series Books” section. We can put in the Redwall books, Harry Potter, Charlie Bone, etc. Lets just map out some space and stick all the shelf hogs together. I mean really, we’ve had such a plethora of these things lately!

    P.S. Can you tell we’ve been weeding?
    P.P.S. Seriously, though. Has anyone analyzed the affect all these big fat series are having on the overall composition of children’s collections given the limits on shelf space?

  3. KT Horning says:

    >You’re assuming these books are never checked out.

  4. >Assuming nothing, unfortunately. Just watching my shelves. We have a very busy lower school library with many good, advanced readers and very high circulation. Even so, the Redwalls, which are consistently popular, also consistently take up a huge amount of shelf space. Isn’t that a conundrum? There are just so many of them. It is the same with other big fat long series. They all get checked out, some of them quite frequently, but never all at the same time. Most of the Harry Potters go out every time a new book comes out, but otherwise, there is a lot of dedicated shelf space to whichever ones happen to be there.

    And it’s not that I necessarily dislike the various series, though I don’t like them all, of course. I am a big fan of some of them. Some of my best book friends are big fat volumes in long series. But this trend toward big-fat-long books in multi-book series creates a what I think must be a documentable addition to the eternal problem with shelf space.

    Oh, and I really wish I had been the one to say “long is the new black.”

  5. >I knew it. I KNEW it.I am once again way out of step with the literary world. I write (mostly) short. But evidently not short enough for picture books, and now not long enough for YA books.

    I need a word-processor (not a computer) to process enough words to fill out my rather slim novels.


  6. Roger Sutton says:

    >Another thing about series (or projected trilogies, etc.) is leaving room for more shelf space–it’s not like you can throw out volume one when volume two arrives!

  7. rindawriter says:

    >Do people REALLY read through all that long stuff? Especially young people? Or do they skip the boring stuff like I do? Terrible habit, I know,I know… I’m older and can get through into “War and Peace” and most of Dickens more easily but…you know, those publishers are not thinking so smart. If they divided those long books up and sold them in shorter books more like a sophisticated series…they could maybe make a lot more money…hmmmm….????

  8. Karen B. says:

    >Funny, I just said to someone on Thursday, “From now on, if it says Volume 1 on the cover, I’m pitching it into the trash.” I was kidding, of course, but I hadn’t even stopped to think about shelf space, just the me-too of it all.

  9. Roger Sutton says:

    >Reviewing (or not) “Volume One” is a complete minefield.

  10. rindambyers says:

    >Actually, I’ll confess, I don’t really like series unless I like the series in the first place and can have ALL of the books in front of me at once….it makes me feel in control! But big fat books are just too heavy to carry around to favorite SSR spots like the coffeeshops, etc., anymore…

  11. >But if somebody’s bothering you, you can always take a big book and whack them with it, and they’ll go away. Though they might bring a cop back with them.

    Seems like I do a lot of skimming with those big volumes, though. There’s lots of stuff in lots of these books that adds nothing to the story.

  12. rindambyers says:

    >Oooh! Big, thick lumpy, poorly edited books that sell well being used as weapons of mass brain destruction….?

  13. Jeff Kozlowski says:

    >808 pages….Wow, I wonder how long that took to write?

    I wrote a novel back in 1999 which was made up of 384 pages of pure adrenaline and I thought it was going to be the death of me. 808 pages, I’ll pass.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind