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The 'Harry Potter Effect': Books for Young Readers Got 115 Percent Longer in the Past Decade

Illustration for article titled The Harry Potter Effect: Books for Young Readers Got 115 Percent Longer in the Past Decade

It’s not just your imagination—kids’ books are getting longer and longer. Booklist’s Briana Shemroske surveyed middle-grade books (aimed at grades three-eight) and found their average page length was 290 in January 2016, up 115 percent from 2006—and up a staggering 173 percent from 1976.


Shemroske did this research in response to an equally staggering survey last December, which found that all books, aimed at any readership, were increasing their average length by 80 pages per year. EIGHTY PAGES PER YEAR. That is a lot of doorstoppers.

So why are middle-grade books, in particular, increasing in length? Shemroske talked to a couple of experts, who offered a two-word explanation: Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling’s books captivated a young audience, and also ballooned in length until The Deathly Hallows clocked in at a staggering ten squillion pages. Also, more middle-grade books are fantasies, which contain a lot of detailed world-building and are designed to help you “get lost” in a fantasy world.


But holy cow—I shudder to think of all the back pain kids are going to have 10 years from now, if they try to lug around physical copies of books that are longer than sin. Somebody think of the children’s spines! [via SFSignal]

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, which is available now. Here’s what people have been saying about it. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.

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To be fair, the first three books weren’t that bad. It wasn’t until Goblet of Fire that Rowling’s editor had their job reduced to “here, spell check this.” I love the Harry Potter books, but there was a lot of fat that needed to be trimmed off the last four books.