Over at OF Blog of the Fallen, Larry has been stirring things up again. He has noticed a difference in attitudes towards books between people who write on blogs and people who write on fan forums. The former, he says, tend to take a more literary approach and prefer novels, while the latter prefer series. (And yes, these are simplistic generalizations – your personal experience may differ.)
This reminds me strongly of a conversation I was having at ICFA with Guy Gavriel Kay, John Clute and Liz Hand. The tentative conclusion I think we came to (their recollections may differ) is that different types of readers have different expectations from books. So Larry’s blog people generally want a book that is complete in itself, with a beginning, a middle and an end. The forum people, on the other hand, generally want more of a soap opera experience. They want an open-ended literary creation with plenty of what I call “fan space” in which they can imagine their own characters and their own stories.
As ever, neither of these approaches to reading is “right” or “wrong”, they are just different. Having written a lot of role-playing games myself, but preferring to read novels to series, I can see both sides.