Discussing on the forums about the argument that too big books aren’t convenient in this economic climate and that bookshops are threatening Tor of not carrying the book (or order many less copies) because it would use up too much shelf space (and so justifying the split of the book in three), I brought a few examples with evidence of the contrary:
– The fourth book in the Wheel of Time series is still one of the best selling of the bunch today, even if it’s the biggest book.
– Tor is re-releasing Glen Cook’s Black Company books as HUGE omnibus and retiring the single-book editions. This AGAINST the will of the writer who liked better the old versions (300 pages). These new omnibus apparently sold well and more are planned to come out.
– To someone stating that Erikson’s doorstop novels weren’t selling well for Tor, at least initially, I replied that Tor is re-releasing the first book in the series as tradeback, with the original UK cover, this May.
– Tor also recently signed a deal to publish all current and upcoming books from Esslemont (Erikson’s spin-off), so proving again that Erikson is becoming quite profitable (in spite of the horrendous covers and inappropriate overall treatment at Tor).
Today someone pointed at a comment of Daniel Abraham that pretty much negates all justifications of the contrary:
For the New Fantasy Project, Tor has expressed a preference for larger volumes along the Erickson/Martin/Jordan doorstop tradition. I’m comfortable with that. There are some real advantages to the great long story that the relatively short novel doesn’t have. There are some challenges too.
As you can see, all justifications are bullshit and just an attempt to fool customers. To put all this in perspective, this is (one of) the justifications written by Sanderson:
When I’d mentioned 400k to him (Tom Doherty) once, he’d been wary. He explained to me that he felt 400k was unprintably large in today’s publishing market. Things have changed since the 90’s, and booksellers are increasingly frustrated with the fantasy genre, which tends to take up a lot of shelf space with very few books. There is constant pressure from the big chain bookstores to keep things smaller and thinner.
It’s just a convenient thing to say when your original intent is to milk a successful series for as many years to come as possible. All that is being said is secondary.