The 600-Page Book


Last night, while flying home from Chicago, I dug into Howard Bryant‘s latest book, The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron.

In a word—riveting. Howard’s a friend, but I’d say this even if the book were written by Jay Glazer. It’s a truly wonderful look at a man who, for someone so public, was frustratingly private. I can’t praise Howard’s work enough, and if you’re looking for an ideal Father’s Day gift, here it is.

That said, a question I’ll throw out there: Howard’s book is exactly 600 pages. I loooove long books. Love digging into them. Love looking forward to them. Love wondering what’s next; what’s around the upcoming page. If it were up to me, every book would be 600 pages. Because texture and details matter, and books like Howard’s are filled with texture and details. However, we are increasingly hearing from publishing companies that 600 pages is too long; that 500 pages is too long; that 400 pages is too long. That people want short and sweet and to the point; that if the industry doesn’t change, the industry dies.

How do you feel?

PS: A side note. I feel a true kinship with guys like Howard—book authors who bleed over their work; who crave details and dig and dig and dig and dig. I respect the John Feinsteins of the world (I truly do, so this is no slap), but I don’t see the joy in pumping out a book per year. It means John surely relies heavily on researchers, which I try not to do. A. It’s espensive. B. Part of the fun is the search itself. I try and talk (via phone or Facebook) with Howard, Jonathan Eig, Mark Kriegel, Jon Wertheim, Leigh Montville, Jonathan Mahler. They’re authors who have my utmost respect, and whose work is guaranteed.