Books are too long

I love books, but I never have enough time to read. Most of my book reading is non-fictional except during the Christmas and New Year when I try to swallow the cream of the crop of the years’ fiction.

A lot of the best non-fiction books are really communicating only one or two core ideas. Something that could be hard-boiled down to 20 minutes worth of reading with optional supplementary material.

I’d love if authors would structure their books in this way or if someone would offer the service of extracting the core and publishing it in compact format (just make sure that the author gets her share). I’d pay the same for the books, and probably buy a lot more of them. In fact I’d pay the same to be able to access such “book cores” online as I do a lot of 20 minute reading sessions there anyway.

Shortened versions have been published for a lot of fiction. Often to the author’s (and literature lecturers’) inconvenience. But it makes a lot more sense with business, popular science and other non-fictional books. And there are probably more people out there willing to pay for it.

7 comments

  1. Looks EXACTLY like what I need. Thanks.

    I’ll try the service and report on the experience 🙂

  2. I’ve been using sparknotes.com for books I really don’t want to read but have to know the details of. Like most students 🙂

  3. Dailylit is very cool. But all it does is chunk the still-as-long book up into pieces of readble length and send them to you (or your RSS reader) once a day.

    BTW: I’ve gotten an account with getabstract.com. Started reading the abstract of a book that I’ve recently finished and am very happy with the way it was treated. Downloaded 3 more abstracts to read over the weekend. This feels like flying!

  4. ahhh… reading through the blog my initial thought was, “Is it possible Hjalli hasn’t figured out the best use for his iPod”.

    As a long term user of Audible.com I´ve bought around 60 titles of fiction and non-fiction, and periodicals like HBR.

    This has stopped me, a man who read at least 10 books per month, from all reading. With the exception of on-screen reading.
    I´m not sure I like this change, but I do love that I can “read” while I go to the gym, do the dishes, drive the car or almost wherever I find few minutes.

    I think the iPod is the best gadget I´ve come across, and maaaan I can’t wait ’til they launch the iPhone.

  5. I frequently download interviews and such to listen to using the iPod. I’ve also “read” several – mainly fiction – books in audio form (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter series and The Good Soldier Svejk to name a few).

    These readings have mainly taken part in bigger chunks of time in the car or in airplanes. (I have a dishwasher and my sports activities luckily usually include a ball of some sort :))

    This is a great way to read and gives some extra time to do it (like the car) but the books are just as long as before. The abstracts allow me to consume 95% of the books’ value in 5% of the time.

    As a 24 hour fan of GetAbstract.com I’ll just add that you can also download their abstracts in MP3 form – a slam dunk for both of us.

    P.S. I must emphasize that I’m talking about non-fiction books here. I don’t think abstracts of good fiction can ever come close to the real thing.

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