Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Opinion: Prequels, Extras and Novellas
It's hard to find a series that hasn't had some kind of e-book extra released along side it, either as a prequel to the first book or a story sandwiched somewhere in the middle. Sometimes they give you a look at another character's point of view, or else focus on a separate generation of characters. Maybe they fill a gap in the story or provide a lead up to the first book. Basically there are plenty of places to go with an e-book extra and there seems to be a lot of demand for then from readers.
Let's start by looking at a few recent examples. Lauren Oliver has released a number of accompanying stories to her Delirium trilogy. Those short stories are now being compiled into a paperback volume by the American publisher. Veronica Roth released Free Four, Veronica Rossi released Roar and Liv. Cassandra Clare has teamed up with fellow authors Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees-Brennan to publish The Bane Chronicles, a series of e-book shorts surrounding Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series.
Of the extras listed above (those that have been released, anyway!) I am yet to read any. The main reason behind this is because all of the above shorts require payment. Now it may not be the most bank breaking amount of money (I think they're all available for under £2) but the fact is, I cannot justify spending that money for what is sometimes just 20 pages of content. At the end of the day, these e-books aren't essential to the plot and so I'm not going to miss out on any plot points by not having read them. They're really just a bonus for those people hungry for even more, and whilst I can see how great it is to get some extra background on a certain character or a world you love, when like me your fund for book buying so ridiculously small, I know I'd much rather put that money towards a 300 page book that matters over something that will keep me busy for maybe twenty minutes.
Saying that, I have read a few prequels. I really enjoyed The New World by Patrick Ness, which is a prequel to his Chaos Walking trilgoy. I recently downloaded the Fierce Reads Anthology to my Kindle which included a prequel to Cinder by Marissa Meyer and I liked that too. Of course you can see where this is going - those extras were free. I sometimes feel like I'm not a proper fan of a series if I haven't read all of the little extras because I'm not in on those extra bits of back story, so when I get the chance to be involved without having to worry about money then I'm there!
Of course I'm not saying that authors should always be giving away free stuff to readers, because how would they make a living if they did? But when you're on such a tight budget and you have the choice of buying a full lenth novel or a forty page e-book extra, I know what I'm going to choose. For me I don't think I'll ever be able to justify spending money on these little extras but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what they're there for. Because authors don't have to go back and give us extra stories about those characters, and the fact they do shows just how much they respect their readers and want to please us by giving us as much as possible which is so lovely of them.
Does that have you be done via this medium, though? I think there's a growing market for e-books and of course it makes sense to take advantage of that. But I look at authors like J. K. Rowling who provide enough background knowledge through interviews, and Pottermore which is free and wonder if making an e-book is really necessary. But would be people be as satisfied with a blog post about a character rather than a story from their POV? I don't know. I don't think I'd mind which. It's also worth mentioning - whilst I'm on the topic of J. K. Rowling - that her "extras" in the forms of Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Tales of Beedle the Bard were sold to raise money for charity. Now that is something I can get on board with!
Now I'd love to know what you think! Do you buy these e-book extras? And if you have in the past then do you think they're worth the money? Or are you like me and put off by the cost compared to how much content you actually receive? I'd love to know your thoughts so please do share them with me in the comments!