What’s in a page count?

I posed the question to Twitter this week asking whether page count was something people took into account when choosing whether to read a book.

I’ve been thinking about page count a lot lately - really, obsessing over it. The dark fantasy novel I started last year and just picked up again in the last couple of months is taking nicely shape, However, I have one issue with it: the page count.

Into the Darkness clocked in at 467 pages for the softcover version. The new novel is shaping up to be shorter. In fact, it may not even make it to 300 pages at its current rate, and this bothers me.

Granted, I’m still on the first draft, and Into the Darkness didn’t expand to its current size until later drafts. So, it is true that the current book may similarly grow in its own later drafts. Still, its smaller size has really got me thinking about page count.

I feel like I’m less likely to pick up a shorter novel versus a longer one, because I may start and finish it too soon, and feel shorted in the relationship. But, then again, some of the best books out there have been short reads that left just about everyone happy. Take Carrie by Stephen King for example. The version on my shelf is less than 200 pages. (*gasp* Unthinkable!)

And, more book doesn’t always equal a better book. Take the Harry Potter series for example. Although I may ruffle some feathers with this, I’ll be honest. with each new installment in the series, the length of the book grew, but I feel like they were not necessarily as good as the first one, which was 309 pages (American version). Each one after the first got a little longer, with the second one clocking in at 341 pages, up through the seventh and final book in the series, which was a whopping 759 pages. That included the epilogue that many fans could have done well without.

But, on the flipside of that coin, It (again) by Stephen King was 1138 pages and worth every minute spent reading it. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons was 555 pages and also a great read.

So, clearly, page count has little bearing on the overall merit of the book, and I should take comfort in knowing that rather than obsessing about it. And, believe me, I will never artificially expand a book I’m writing just so I can achieve a desired page minimum.

But, I am curious, dear reader: what does page count mean to you? Anything at all?

- A.M.