The long and the short of it - Karen Bush

The great thing about a Kindle is that you can make an instant purchase - no need to traipse into town (possibly only to discover that the book you wanted isn't actually in stock anyway) or frustrating days of waiting for the postman.
Want a book?
Need the next instalment this very instant?
Click and it's yours, delivered to your Kindle within seconds.
Except that sometimes it's easy to be a little hasty and to click the wrong title.
It happened to me recently - right book, but wrong version - an abridged text instead of the full length one. Thank goodness it's easy to return if you make such an error.
But it did set me to thinking.
What, exactly, is the point of an abridged book?
If an author intended their book to be shorter, they'd write it that way. Abridging it seems an insult. And if a reader can't cope with it in all its full glory, then surely they can use their initiative and skim through any passages that don't engage them.
At least they wouldn't miss any good bits because they'd been selectively excised.


The Great Rosette
Haunting Hounds


Anonymous said…
I am a fan of the Reader's Digest Condensed Books series - you get a taste of a lot of stories that way.

You miss a lot of the richness sometimes. I remember reading both versions of In This House of Brede, a novel about a middle-aged businesswoman with a tragic past who becomes a contemplative nun.

The abridged version was lovely - the complete one lovelier.

Skimming is not necessarily a good substitute for a careful removal of some of the subplots and some of the characters - I am in awe of the people who can abridge things.

I write long - and I usually can't see where to remove a subplot or a character. I edit for tight prose, but I would LOVE to see what a competent abridger might do with my novel-in-progress. Just out of curiosity to see what they would remove.

JO said…
I can see the point of abridging some of the huge classics - Dickens, say - hopefully without losing the language, and with a view to introducing young people who might be discouraged by the full length to try them, and then maybe move on to a 'grown up' version.

But apart from that - I'm with you. I'd rather the full version, with all its nooks and crannies.
Lynne Garner said…
If I come across an author I've never read before I've downloaded a free abridge title, read the first few pages then decided if want the entire book. I know I could download the full book but if I return I know how that makes an author feel - so prefer not to.
madwippitt said…
But with Kindle, you can always download a free sample and decide at the end of it whether you want to carry on reading. And I doubt there are many readers who, having read an abridged text, will then want to sit down and read the full-length version as they have a) already spent money on one copy already and b) now know the plot and ending so there are few surprises left ...
Dennis Hamley said…
One good and I think unassailable justification of abridgements and, by implication, retellings is accessibility to less able readers. I've done several retellings and shortened versions as Hi-Lo books for reluctant readers and I believe they've performed a useful function. I'm still very proud of my Dracula in 5000 words.

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