why do abridged books exist

Explain Something to Me: Why Do Abridged Books Exist?

Guys, a while back I accidentally listened to an abridged audiobook of Rebecca. When I realized I was listening to the abbreviated version, I felt like such a cheater! How can I even know if I truly liked that book, since I didn’t listen to it in its entirety? Can I even say I’ve read it now? I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS and mostly those of bookish betrayal (I AM SORRY BIBLIOPHILES, I DIDN’T MEAN TO CHEAT!). It really begged the question, why the heck do abridged books exist?

Here are the reasons I have come up with for the existence of abridged books:

  1. People want to say they read the book, but they don’t want to actually read the entire thing. Maybe I should read an abridged version of 1,001 Arabian Nights so that I can say I’ve read it and level up on my coolness.
  2. Maybe some books are better left 500 pages shorter. Perhaps Les Miserables doesn’t actually need to be any longer than the script for the broadway show. I mean, I felt like that story is pretty effective at an only two and a half hours long show. Who needs to the rest of it? (This is sarcasm people, I recognize the show probably doesn’t cover a fraction of what the book covers.)
  3. No one is reading it anyway, right? OKAY so maybe I skipped John Galt’s 70 PAGE SPEECH (seriously WTF) in Atlas Shrugged. And maybe I skimmed through (…or skipped) the info on the different types of whales in Moby Dick. AM I A BAD PERSON? (Don’t answer this.)


So now it’s your turn: Explain to me why abridged books exist.

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19 comments

  1. I have no idea why abridged books exist, but I would never want to read or listen to them because I would also feel like I didn’t even actually read the book! Like, I can rarely even bring myself to skim anything in books, so I definitely wouldn’t feel right just straight-up skipping things.

  2. This is something I’ve never really understood either :/

    I kind of want to be like, it doesn’t count if you only read half of the book. That said, I DO skim. A lot, unfortunately. And I’ll be honest, on some of the classics that I’m not sure I really want to read all that much, I’ve eyed the abridged versions and thought about how much less intimidating they are. And then I frown and think of how much would be missing. I just don’t get the urge.

    1. Yeah – I’ve thought the same. But at the end of the day it’s not the story the author intended, so I would just feel wrong reading it!

  3. Yeah, I think it’s a marketing thing. Some people don’t want to read 1000 pages, but they might want to read 500. If people are buying, publishers will sell.

    I guess you could argue that some books are “better” shorter, but that’s always going to be subjective, and personally I think it’s a very small amount of books. Les Mis is a good example. But people also abridge books like Anne of Green Gables, which are fairly short in the first place.

    I’d rather read the book as the author intended personally. And I do really hate it when the publisher doesn’t even clearly indicate the book is abridged. That should be written in size 72 font on the front cover. 😉

    1. Yes – I sometimes find it VERY difficult to identify if it’s an abridged book or not, which is annoying. I think you’re right – it’s 100% marketing 😐

  4. Hahah oh gosh, I remember when I realised last year that the edition of Dracula we studied in school when I was 12 was an abridged version, I was so offended T^T

    I mean I understand that maybe it’s good because otherwise some people wouldn’t read these books at all but it does feel like cheating and like an offense to the writer.

    Anyway, I’d rather read the whole thing!

  5. ya know….I didn’t even really know what abridged meant….I’m a terrible bookworm. I don’t really read classics but when I do they’re not abridged (totally said that in the “most interesting man in the world” voice, not on purpose, I swear). But yeah, they probably exist because of what you mentioned. I still wouldn’t read them though!

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    1. Hahah you’re NOT a terrible bookworm (a terrible bookworm would read abridged books and not admit to it (;). And I totally read that in the most interesting man voice XD

      1. HAHAH I didn’t even do that on purpose. After I typed it I was like “oops, oh well, keepin’ it” lol

  6. I’ve always wondered this too. I figure if I want to read a book I want to read the full thing, not a shortened or condensed version. I’d be afraid of what I was missing!

  7. I think abridged versions are useful for study, particularly when you have to read it for English class and still get the gist of it lol. Or when people just need to study it for whatever reason, but of course I prefer the full thing 😀

    1. I think that’s a good point – they would be useful for study! Especially if it’s a book they don’t particularly want to read but have to read for a course XD

  8. It bothers me so much when it’s not pointed out that it’s abridged. It makes me paranoid everytime I have to choose a book: “Is this the right one?”.

    1. hahah, right?! It did say it in some tiny font somewhere on the “information” section of the book’s page from the library. But I didn’t see it closely enough. It needs to be a part of the title!!