Sunday, January 13, 2008

Anthologies: Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

I read primarily paranormal romance and I love reading series romances, because quite honestly, I love when something really, really great lasts a really, really long time ... heh heh. If an author has built a truly fascinating world for her (or his) series and the characters in that world are richly developed, the magic of that author's writing lingers throughout the months between book releases. I'm still enjoying the author's work as I speculate over the overall story arc of the series and anticipate the next installment. And that next series installment might just turn out to be a short in an anthology and I know I won't want to miss a beat.

So herein lies my love-hate relationship with anthologies...

The part I love is that for $7.99 I get to sample the story telling voices of four, or if I'm really lucky--five authors. Most of the time I am buying an anthology because there is a story in it by one of my favorite series authors. But what are the chances that the other stories in the anthology are stand alone titles by those authors? Slim chances. It is more than likely that the authors' sites will state something along the lines that this story can be read alone, but is best read in order. *sigh* Did I mention I'm a stickler for reading a series in chronological order? And of course, I only want to do what's best. So now I am faced with the decision to either let the book sit on my shelf having just read at best 100 pages of it, or buy the backlists of the other authors in the anthology. Which isn't always a bad thing. For my wallet yes, but its also a great way for me to discover some new authors.

Speaking of a that $7.99 anthology sitting on my shelf that is only partially read, I'd like to mention that some anthologies sell for $14. FOURTEEN DOLLARS for four hundred pages of four short stories. Is it me, or is that a bit excessive? I have bought them before. I paid $14 for the WILD THING anthology last July so that I could read Meljean Brook's contribution, "Paradise," book 3 of her Guardians series. I also more recently bought Enchanted Seasons for Nalini Singh's short, "Beat of Temptation". Both anthologies, that I spent a total of $28 on, sit on my shelf all unread except for Meljean's and Nalini's stories, respectively. *sigh* I will probably go back and read the others some day, but I really don't understand why the books had to be listed at $14. :(

I realize that my personal love-hate relationship with anthologies is truly governed by my obsessive need to read an author's COMPLETE series IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER and by the expense it ends up incurring when I then explore the other authors' series. I just can't keep myself from buying them, and I still haven't decided if I love them or hate them. Either way, I seem to be the exact market publishers are targeting, don't you think?

Ummm... having said all of that, here are two anthologies that are on my current wish list:

FIRST BLOOD Featuring stories from Meljean Brook, Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, and Chris Marie Green.
Paranormal Romance.
$7.99 Berkely Sensation
Release date August 08.

An anthology that I have barely any information on, but know that I want right now:

Title TBA Featuring stories by Jeaniene Frost, Melissa Marr, Vicki Pettersson, Kim Harrison, Jocelynn Drake.
Adult Urban Fantasy Anthology
Price TBA Eos line of HarperCollins, Tentative release date May 09.

What a fantastic author line up! Jeaniene Frost's contribution will be a short story from Bones' POV in New Orleans before he meets Cat. Did I mention that I want this book like right now? RIGHT. NOW. :)

So, how do you feel about anthologies? Do you buy them without hesitation even if you are initially only interested in one author's story? Or, if applicable, do you just skip that story in the author's series? Have you ever discovered a new favorite author from reading an anthology? And finally, does the anthology's list price play a role in your decision to buy the book?


  1. If it helps, I whooped for joy when I saw the First Blood anthology would be mass market rather than trade. The $14 price is steep, and often hard to justify (it takes a lot for me to buy a trade book, too -- there usually have to be at least two authors I want to read/am interested in.) And I always TRY to read every story in the anthology, just to get the money's worth. Sometimes I don't, because ... well, sometimes not every story works for me.

    Speaking just as a reader, I like anthologies. I've found a couple of good authors that way -- picking up a book because of a headlining author, and finding another that I enjoyed as much (Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Patricia Briggs, Karen Hawkins, just to name a few that I first read in anthologies). And I like being able to take an hour and get an entire story finished.

    On the other hand, novellas aren't always as satisfying, or as well-written. I know I find them almost as hard (if not harder) to write than full-length books, and I've really had to adjust my storytelling when it comes to novellas (it's been a learning process.) There are some authors whose novellas I just love, but I don't enjoy their full-length books as much, and vice-versa.

    FWIW, you probably could have left Paradise out of the reading order and not missed anything in the overall story arc. Same with First Blood -- I've realized that to put a really critical point in a novella is kind of unfair (I really didn't expect "Falling for Anthony" to be such an important reference point in the kind of just happened.) And if the reader chooses to wait until the mass market release of a trade anthology, they'll get access to the story after that point has been spoiled in another book, so they won't see the development take place in an organic way.

    So I guess what I'm saying is: novellas in a series are best if they take a single aspect of the series and explore it in ways you probably can't in the main story arc. So that a new reader who bought the anthology for another author's story might say, "ooooh, this sounds neat" -- and a reader familiar won't miss out on anything really critical if they pass it up, but also might get a new approach to the series if they invest in it.

    Of course, if you can't read one book in the series without reading the others ... heh, then there's just no help for you :-p

  2. Thanks for your comment, Meljean.

    I whooped when I saw First Blood in mass market, too! And I already read the first chapter excerpt to "Thicker Than Blood" on your blog. So how can I miss First Blood now?

    "Paradise" is a perfect example of how my obsessiveness over series books wins out over my practicality of not spending money on anthologies for just one author's story. Basically, I would miss some amazing scenes from "Paradise" that really moved me. For instance, "Paradise" contains probably the sexiest non-sex scene I have ever read when Selah feeds Lucas. LOVED IT. I also think that both the conversation Selah and Hugh have in the park and the conversation Selah has with Michael toward the very end of the story are important to the future of the series. I know the overall story arc would still make sense if "Paradise" was skipped, but it's so much more satisfying if it wasn't because I'll get to see the results of those conversations come to fruition in future books.

    See? What if I miss something equally insightful by skipping an author's short?

    Me <--destined to keep buying anthologies. ;)

  3. I have to admit I am not a big fan of anthologies, but if I find one with the majority of my favorite authors in them, I will definitely pick it up.

  4. I can't wait to get First Blood, and cover looks great too. I recently read Nalini Singh's short in Enchanted Season. It was great learning Nate and Tamsyn's story. :)

    Anthologies are ridiculously high I agree. But I still go out and buy them. But I usually give them to Amy or the Library. That way they just aren't sitting wasting away. I don't think there has been an antology where I've read every single author. So, I guess I love them and hate them. LOL!

    I'll defintley be picking up First Blood and the TBA one. I mean who can pass up Kim Harrison & Jeaniene Frost. Not me! :)

  5. I actually never read the anthologies. I don't like to get invested in a story and have it wrap up so fast. Yes, yes, I know they're parts of larger stories. Oh, I guess I'm probably missing something now.

    What is this thing with PARADISE? Now I really feel like I'll be missing something.

  6. The only time I read anthologies are when it's by an author I love. I keep getting the JD Robb anthologies, just because I love the In Death series.

    I hate it when the anthology short either ends or begins a new series. I've had that happen a couple of times and, when I think I've bought the first book in the series, I've got to go back & find the anthology.

    And, have you noticed that anthologies never last long on shelves? Not that they're sold fast, but that they get taken away quite quickly.

    Hope you're doing well!


  7. Well I certainly don't hate anthologies, but I would enjoy not having to pay trade prices if it could be avoided!

    I find that that there are times that I have purchased an anthology for a specific author and after reading the story I then put the book on the shelf and leave it. However, when I have just a short period of time to read and am between novels I love picking up an anthology and reading a short.

    I've also found some "new to me" authors that I wouldn't have read otherwise after reading one of their novellas.

    Christine - You should read Melting Frosty in the Enchanted Season anthology. Great Christmas story.

    I can't wait for First Blood either! :)

  8. Hi Christine this will be my second attempt to post

    Just the mention of the word anthology makes my teeth snap together and the vein in the side of my head start to throb.

    I wouldn't mind anthologies if they were written as stand alone books to be savored one rainy day or as Tracy said inbetween books. However that's not the case and here lies my vein throb.....

    Not only are series started this way or continued even though it claims you don't need to read it to read the next full novel in the series, we all know that's utter bullshit. I call it manipulation at it's finest and so that just pisses me off.

    Let's talk about Mass Market or Trade... Who's the genius that decides this? This whole process makes my head spin and to be honest I have too many good books to read to even try and ponder the inner minds of the manipulation publishing team. If there are four author's in this anthology and let's say two of them are always sold Mass market and NYT bestselling authors why the hell the $14 price tag???

    I am not even going to get into the whole paperback authors that are now hardcover. Write 295 pages of mediocre and charge $25 for said book because I swear my soap box can't take the weight...:)

    So in closing you can clearly see I HATE EM with a passion. I usually find my new to me authors through review sites and word of mouth. I honestly don't think a 100 page short shows the chops of an author and of course that is just my humble opinion.

    I am going now to take some excedrin ....... and I just finished reading Paradise that short to Meljean's series in the Wild Thing anthology....lmao bring on Demon Moon for fuck's sake because I hate the time outs.....LOL and a little birdy told me that you have been reading something special is that true Christine =)?????

  9. date, I don't think any of the anthologies have been anymore than the rest of the books I buy.

    And, I HAD to buy them for they were apart of Christine Feehan's Dark Series and SK's Dark-Hunter series. Also, bought one that has Debbie Macomber's short on the Cedar Cove series.

    For these books, I bought them specifically for those particular stories, and I didn't read the rest of the stories. You have a good point about discovering new authors if I do read them...but yeesh, I can't keep up!

  10. I wouldn't say I hate them - but I don't read them that often. I'm not really sure why not - they give a taste of the writing for authors I haven't tried before. But it must be a mind trick or something. I feel like I'm not getting full value for the price or something. I'll have to work on that!


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