6 Publishing Trends to Bring Back

Trends in publishing come and go. But some trends were worth keeping! Here are six that should return.

Placing the Series Numbers on Book Spines

Once upon a time, each book in a series was marked clearly with a number on the spine. Readers never had to guess whether a book was part of a series, or, if it was, whether it was book one, book two, maybe book 1.5. Now, if a reader wants to know which installment they are picking up, they probably have to look it up online. But what if the reader is not aware the book is part of a series in the first place? Not numbering books makes it confusing for everyone.

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Giving Series an Overall Name

Books in a series used to have an overall name. For example, Tamora Pierce’s four Alanna books are part of the Song of the Lioness series. Now, however, most series do not seem to have a specific name and readers seem to just refer to series with a character name or a name referencing the first book title. For example, today the Song of the Lioness books would probably be referred to as Alanna #1, Alanna #2, and so on. But where’s the fun in that?

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Chapter Titles

I don’t have any data on this, but it seems that most books today simply number the chapters. But it’s so much more interesting when the chapters have actual titles! Authors can get really creative with this. One of my favorite examples of chapter titles occurs in L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, where the first three chapters are, in order, “Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Surprised,” “Matthew Cuthbert Is Surprised,” and “Marilla Cuthbert Is Surprised.” Readers miss out on humor like this when chapters are only numbered.

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Publishing Shorter YA Novels

I enjoy a long book as much as the next reader, but must every YA book published now be 400+ pages? Sometimes cutting out material can really improve the narrative structure of a story, and I think more editors should suggest as much to their authors.

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Not Publishing Half Books

I don’t believe in half books. Either a book is in the series or it is not. If the story in the half book was not considered pertinent enough to be included in the actual overall conception of the original narrative, why should I bother reading it? Because I am cynical, I view half books not as valuable additions to a series, but as attempts to get devoted fans to spend more money. Frankly, it does not seem quite sporting, and I wish the trend of the half book would end.

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Calling YA Books “Teen Books”

I realize this may sound strange, but my anecdotal experience is that a not-insignificant part of the public is unfamiliar with the way publishers (and hence bookstores and libraries) tend to categorize books. People who are not avid readers or who do not read YA or who do not follow the publishing industry sometimes have no idea what YA books are. It would be easier for everyone if we returned to calling them teen books. That way, parents, grandparents, and other well-meaning adults trying to get books for the teens in their lives will know where to start.

What publishing trends do you think should come back?

46 thoughts on “6 Publishing Trends to Bring Back

    • Krysta says:

      It seems like everyone wants the series number on the spine, so I can’t figure out why that doesn’t happen anymore. The publisher knows they bought 3 or 5 books or whatever.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. ahaana @ Windows to Worlds says:

    yes!!! yes!!! yes!!! i 100% agree with everything you’ve said in this!! i miss chapter titles and the series numbers on the spines so much!! i remember once upon a time, chapter names were a given, and it makes the books so much more fun!! lovely post πŸ’

    Like

  2. danielle pitter says:

    I miss shorter book series. Why does every series have to be 10-20 books long?? That’s why I stopped reading the Mortal Instruments series. It’s too many books in the same saga!!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Oh, that’s true, as well! Whenever a series jumps from a trilogy to suddenly nine books or 20 or whatever, I get a little worried. The series wasn’t meant to be that long! The author didn’t plan for an arc that long! It isn’t likely to end well.

      Unless we’re talking about the Nevermoor series. Townsend can write all the books. XD

      Like

  3. ashley says:

    I have to agree with numbers on the spines of books that are part of a series, giving series names and chapter titles, I miss those things. I look at my Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set and the spines are all numbered. I have other more recent books that are parts of two separate series by the same author and even those spines are numbered. Chapter titles give readers somewhat of an idea of what is going to occur in the chapter and keep things interesting. Also, I would love shorter YA novels, especially contemporary, I can see fantasy books being somewhat longer especially if it’s a fantasy standalone but does a contemporary really have to be 500 pages? YA books should go back to being called teen books, I feel like Teen Books are for 13-17/18 and YA/NA books should be for 18-30.

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    • Krysta says:

      Yes! I think spine numbers are especially helpful with series set in the same world. If I have two number 3’s at least I know they can’t be in the same series! It gives me a starting point to figure out what book I’m supposed to be reading

      And, yeah, for sure! Fantasies often need time for worldbuilding. But then it seems I end up with a 600-800 page book. Just..edit it. Or make it two books. I don’t know. I want the joy of finishing a book before two years have passed. XD

      Like

  4. Briana | Pages Unbound says:

    I’d mind half books less if they were closer to half price. But they throw in some artwork and call it “beautifully designed” or something, and then it’s $18.99 just like a full book!

    I also don’t know why they don’t number books, especially in the cases where they acquired a trilogy or something, so they KNOW they are going to publish at least three books.

    I admit I don’t even read chapter titles, so that doesn’t bother me. And sometimes they give away spoilers!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, the half books are full price and often I feel like they aren’t really adding anything meaningful to the series. It’s just a way to get money from super fans, who feel the need to own anything fandom-related, in my opinion.

      Yeah, I don’t know why we stopped with the series numbers! Sometimes I’m looking all over at a book trying to figure out if it’s part of a series or not–and I can’t! Not without searching on the internet!

      Like

  5. danielle pitter says:

    Also I feel like YA should be categorized is books for ages 16-25. Anything after 25 can be labeled Adult. YA is young Adult, not necessarily just teens because even 20-year olds read YA.

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    • Krysta says:

      When thinking about labels, I consider more the ostensible target audience and the developmental level of that target audience. I read middle grade and children’s books, as do plenty of other adults, but we still call them children’s books because they are written for children. I think YA should go back to being called “Teen” because those books are supposed to be written for teens. But, because there is such a large adult audience, I think we’re seeing that YA is often written for adults instead, and the teens are being left out.

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  6. Eleanor J. says:

    I agree with all the points made in this post!! They should really put the series number on the spine…πŸ˜‚ it can be so confusing when they don’t!! And series should get overall names, I’ve also seen a bunch being called by the first book’s title. And a big YES to chapter titles!! I feel like they can really deliver a little summary of what will happen, so we know what to expect. Interesting, I didn’t know people used to call books teen rather than YA but that makes a lot of sense πŸ˜… Lovely post Krysta!!

    Like

  7. Alyson Woodhouse says:

    I didn’t realise numbers of instalments from series weren’t placed on the books themselves, what a bizarre practice, and lacking common sense I would have thought. I also tend to think of YA as Teen Fiction in my head, it seems more specific.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      It depends on the series. I see more numbers on children’s books than YA. But I wish they were more common again! It would make everything so much easier!

      Like

  8. Julie Anna's Books says:

    I wish the serial numbers would be on the spines again! I feel like it’s impossible to tell what books are in series unless you look online. When I’m looking at series with friends at the store I always have to ask about which one’s what because I feel like it’s hard to find from the book itself.

    Like

  9. ofmariaantonia says:

    So many good points in this post!

    Yes to numbering the books in a series! I hate having to look up the order of the books.

    And I also love chapter titles. And those three first chapters of Anne are a perfect example. The key is to name the chapter without giving too much away. But I find it also helpful when I want to go back and re-read a section. How am I supposed to know if such-and-such happened in Chapter 28 or 34? But a chapter title helps narrow down the options.

    And yes to shorter books. I don’t mind the odd longer book, but I do like the shorter ones too. πŸ™‚

    Like

  10. Charvi says:

    Omg yes what’s this deal with book numbers nit being on the spines??? Put them anywhere, even if teeny tiny but just give us something. And yesss, series names are so much fun! A lot of them get named after the first book and I’m not a huge fan of that πŸ™ˆ

    Like

  11. okithereader says:

    I hate the sucky rep that YA gets because of its target audience. It feels so belittling when people comment on the fact that I enjoy reading YA books in my twenties. Teen, YA, or whatever, it’s still valid, enjoyable literature. There is defo a weird stigma around YA novels that needs to go.

    Like

  12. Mary Drover says:

    I honestly just yelled YES at every single one of these, but the one that gets me the most is the numbering the series. I genuinely cannot understand the decision to take the number off of a cover. One of the things that will definitely put me off a book is if I can’t tell if it’s part of a series, so then I have to go searching, when it would just be so easy to see a little number on the spine. It can’t be that hard.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t start numbering the books if you, the publishers, know you have a contract for three books or five books or whatever it is. If it’s a standalone that takes off and turns into eight books, sure, book one wouldn’t have the number. But, if you KNOW it’s a series from the start, why not?

      Liked by 1 person

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