I almost called this blog “can you shorten your book please?”

I read a lot of books. One of my pet peeves is that many authors appear to be getting paid by the word..certainly by the number of pages. Most books could make their point in a fraction of the words and pages. Have you noticed this?

Now, I’m not going to name any books or authors here….not into “shaming” folks…..but I am commenting on an interesting aspect of books that has been going on for a long time.

When I was younger, I read a lot of self help books and got to the end and would ask myself…what did I get from that? I started keeping a notebook on the essential takeaways I got from each book completed…..did that for a year or two before I found I didn’t have the time. Generally, my quick summaries though showed me that most books only had a few key points that they fluffed a lot of pages around.

Now, I’ve published four books. They are listed there on the side of the website pages….and they are probably all longer than they need to be. However, I will say that when I was writing them, I did consciously try to be concise. I did edit out stuff that I felt was extraneous.

However, I also knew that for something to be called a “book” it had to have a certain minimum number of pages….people expect it.

Yet on the receiving end….I am really tired of authors who are repetitive, circling back to their key point over and over. I am tired of multiple stories to show the same point. I am tired of esoteric words and phrases….especially new words the author makes up to stand in for some concept. Really? Can’t we be a bit more concise?

Yet, I still buy books and read them but I have had to develop new strategies for reading them in order to honor my time. Essentially when I feel that the author is padding his book….I start skimming.

I skip by words and paragraphs….stopping on the first of every new paragraph and section to see if there is anything new. I pick up the pace and move rapidly through the text seeking anything new…then I slow down if I find it and read that part more thoroughly.

Recently I wrote a blog on my favorite books about books. One I shared were the sequence of “50 Classics” books by Tom Butler-Bowdon…in them he shared the essential concepts from 50 books on a certain topic. Not listed in my blog article were earlier summary books I enjoyed by Compact Classics.

I get it that some concepts take some time to present and that some books need to be longer to bring out the points….but those books are truly in the minority. Most books could be a heck of a lot shorter.

Can we be more concise? Please?

Mark Gilbert

….and, yeah, I wasn’t concise by repeating my request for others to be concise…….