“Life moves fast—books should too,” promises a promotional website for mega-bestselling author James Patterson’s new line of branded mini-novels. BookShots are Patterson’s take on the genre novella, a slick package intended to appeal to Twitter-friendly attention spans. BookShots.com promises that each of the thrillers and romances under the BookShot umbrella will be “Under 150 pages. Under $5. Impossible to put down”—and in case the breathless copy doesn’t get the point across, the site features a 30-second ad featuring a Patrick Bateman-looking young man being chased through the streets of a big city as he reads a BookShot.
Honestly, BookShots are a terrific idea. The genre novella is an underappreciated form that stretches back to pulp magazines of the 1920s and ’30s—the age of serialized heroes like Doc Savage and The Spider and midcentury sci-fi novelists like Hubbard and Heinlein. These are books that introduced protagonists quickly, solved a succession of problems with a rat-a-tat rhythm, and then resolved situations neatly. If you’re looking for something cheap and fun and light for your summer vacation, a BookShot-sized read would be just the thing. Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition or online at The Seattle Review of Books.
Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.