Jul 19, 2011

Page Count or Word Count

There have been volumes written in the past few years about electronic books as the format emerges from being a novelty to now commanding 10% of the book market with the strong likelihood of continuing to increase in the future.  There have been discussions, conversations and even heated arguments about this format debating style vs. substance, quality vs. quantity, content vs. container, etc.

The question I have is what about page count vs. word count?

The following is based on my experience owning a Kindle and iPad so don’t take me as an authority on e-reading devices by any means, but when I go to the Kindle Store on Amazon to shop for a book, I peruse the digital shelves just as I would for a hard or soft cover book, reading the description/blurbs, perhaps the author’s Amazon page, all of which gets me familiar with a potential purchase.  The part that throws me off sometimes is determining the length of the e-book.

With a physical book, the page count is usually listed, giving you an idea of the book length.  E-books though aren’t always as upfront.  Unless the author or publisher labels it a novel somewhere in the title/subtitle or gives it a certain category/tag, one has no quick way to determine the length of the story.  Pricing can also be a reasonable indicator, but since there isn’t really a standardized pricing chart yet for this relatively young format, one can still be left wondering whether their purchase will entertain them for ten minutes or ten  hours and I’m sorry but stating “File Size: 359 KB” really doesn’t cut it either.

This is particularly true sometimes with independent authors.  With the proliferation of 99 cent novels and short stories(and don’t get me wrong,  I’m actually a big fan of them), I often have to check the reader comments in hope of discovering whether or not it’s a short story, collection of short stories, novel, etc.  If you’re lucky, the author has been kind enough to post the word count in the product description (as I do for readers) to tip you off.  Otherwise, one is often left scratching their head.

Personally, for books I still prefer to identify length by page count since it’s already established, but for e-books, since there is no traditional page depending on the size of your electronic screen, I’ve started to warm up to word count.  Will it always be that way?  Who knows, but as a self-publishing writer I strongly encourage others to do potential readers the courtesy of letting them know upfront in the product description exactly how long the story is by posting word count.

If you’re story sounds good, I’m happy to check it out regardless of length, but I’d like to at least have a idea first about what I’m getting myself into.

Do you prefer to identify e-book length by page count, word count or another way?