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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. ;-)