Are We Losing Patience as Readers?

 Photo via Sean/Svadifari (Flickr cc)I love reading series. They're usually my go to. But I tend to gravitate toward series like mine where each book can standalone, but there's a connected world and recurring characters. That way, I get the benefit of visiting familiar characters and following them along the journey, but I also get a full satisfying story (and romance) in each book.

But that's only one kind of series. The other kind is the type that follows the same cast and has a overall arc through the whole series, where things, including the romance, aren't fully wrapped up until the last book. I used to read a lot of these, but have gotten away from them lately.

So a few weeks ago, looking to rectify this, I picked up a book I'd had on my shelf for a long time. It's the start of a spin-off series based on one of my all-time favorite YA series. I read the book and enjoyed it. There is a hero in it who I loved in the previous series, and I want to see him get the girl. All good, right? Sure. BUT when I looked ahead at all the books to come, I sort of got this feeling of facing down a marathon. I know that I'm not going to get the payoff on the romance until probably book seven, if it's anything like the previous series. And with SO many books in my TBR pile (over 500 at last count), it feels like a huge investment to go on that journey. 

BUT at the same time, I LOVED the last series and the romance is one of my favorites ever. So why am I so reluctant to invest when the payoff has been proven to me in the past?

I've been feeling the same way about trilogies lately, too. I get tempted to wait until all are out to start them, and that's not a good way to support a series. If the first doesn't sell, we may never see the last book because the publisher won't keep publishing them. (Same goes for new TV shows.)

So this got me to thinking if I've just lost patience as a reader. In a culture of instant everything and streaming video where we can binge watch TV series, have I just developed some sort of reader ADD? Or is it because my reading time is so limited that I want a complete story in one book? Or maybe I've expanded my reading tastes so much that it's increased my choices exponentially, and it's hard to spend too much time in one place? I'm guessing it's a combination of all of that for me.

But I don't want to be that way necessarily. I'm kind of annoyed by my lack of patience. In order for a romance or story to feel epic, there needs to be space and time to do it. This almost makes me wish for those 80s-90s romances that were 700 pages (like Judith McNaught) where the long-spanning journey is captured in one big book. And I got that sense of epicness a few months ago when I read Last Hour of Gann, which was something like 1200 pages. So I like having that long-developing romance and story on occasion. (Not all the time. That can be exhausting.)

And isn't there something to be said for patience and anticipation? Can that enhance the experience? Like those end of the season TV show cliffhangers. Would LOST have had the same feel for me if I had been able to binge watch the whole thing? And when I did the NOT UNTIL YOU serial, it was kind of fun to have everyone reading along at the same pace so that we could all discuss it/experience it together.  

So I know the benefits of investing in a continuing series or trilogy that will give me a big payoff in the end, but somehow I'm still finding it hard to commit lately.

So you tell me, am I alone in this? Have you found yourself struggling to invest in a long-simmering series or trilogy that take years to release? Or are you a reader who can dive in and give it 100% commitment to the journey?