Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Waiting for new books in series: George R.R. Martin and the Eager Fans

There may be nothing more impatient and enthused than a fan waiting for the next installment of a beloved book series. Whether it's fans of George R.R. Martin's series 'A Song of Ice and Fire' or readers of Diana Gabaldon's 'Outlander' series or of Jean Auel's 'Earth's Children' series, fans are caught up in a world of internet author sites, fan sites, Twitter hashtag hysteria, Facebook 'likes' and even publisher-fueled rumors. The next book is right around the corner! here's an interview with the author! the last book is just out in paperback! the movie is in the works! and so on. All false hopes to the series-starved reader.
Here are some of the misunderstandings that can come about with books published in series.
  • Often a series is referred to by the first book in the series, but this may not be the actual name of the series. The series known as 'A Game of Thrones' is actually titled 'A Song of Ice and Fire.' Remember that Auel's first book 'Clan of the Cave Bear' is not the name of the series which is 'Earth's Children'. 
  • The name of the TV show or movie may not be the same as the name of a book or series; it may be the name of the first book, but cover all or part of various books in the series. Think: 'All Creatures Great and Small,' the TV series, drew from many of the books and no doubt made up some material and altered some too. 
  • Now add in the fact that about a year after a book comes out in hardcover, it will be released in paperback to as much fanfare as the publishers can give it. Sometimes, the book will be re-reviewed. This often gives readers the idea that their favorite author or series has a NEW BOOK OUT! But no, really no, trust us on this, we can check the catalog, check Amazon, check Fantastic Fiction and there still will not be that new book you have been yearning for. We feel your pain.
And so there are many a slip between cup and the lip when it comes to sequels in series fiction. Sometime authors rapidly churn out the first few books in a series and then j u s t 
s l o w doooowwwwn. And who can blame them? Series, especially fantasy series, tend to be real door-stoppers in size. And even in the non-fantasy area, think about Ken Follett's series: his 'Century Trilogy' started with - 'Fall of Giants' (2010) which clocks in at an impressive 985 pages, while the second in the series, 'Winter of the World' (2012) came to an equally impressive 940 pages. Not a week goes by that patrons don't ask where the third in that series is. Ken? Oh, Ken? Typing away, are you, I hope?

Resources we use to verify series sequels rumors:
Fantastic Fiction lists authors' books by series and in chronological order
The Berkeley Heights Public Library catalog with enriched content from Novelist and Goodreads that lists read-alikes and books in series
Good old standby Amazon.com
Author websites often tell the next book an author is working on with a target date for completion, to be taken with a grain of salt.

Note to fellow librarians and collectors of weird professional lingo: the process of figuring out exactly what book a patron wants by piecing together the clues that are given is called 'bibliographic verification'. Right, anyone remember that? I was totally mystified when my professors went on about that, but now, I know. it can be tougher than it sounds. A cigar might just be a cigar to Dr. Freud, but to librarians, it could be any number of book titles, subtitles, authors or just plain unsubstantiated rumors. The watchword for bibliographic verification: mistrust & verify. For related post see: Butchered Book Titles

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