These are examples of what may be a trend: It seems that chess books are getting heavier - bigger page formats and more pages. For Everyman the new standard seems to be 250 pages or more, with 350 pages being no rarity. Gambit's books too have been growing - most notably their standard format is now B5 (248 mm by 172 mm) as opposed to the earlier A5 (210 mm by 145 mm) standard.
These new books often have an impressive coverage of their subject with detailed strategic explanation in combination with full coverage of variations and game references. And there should be no complaints about the price - it's often only a fragment more expensive than the sub-200 pages volumes.
Yet... a book with 300+ pages will always be intimidating to some readers - maybe even the majority of potential buyers. So I wonder if there will be a reversal? Is there a growing market for the really slim book or booklet? If so, how can a reduction in quantity be achieved without compromising quality? Cutting the prose, reducing fonts or squeezing more text on each page would hardly attract many customers. To narrow the focus and concentrate on sub-lines could work for certain openings but generally I don't think it's the way to go.
One obvious solution is to cut the number of game references drastically. I have a theory that many social players don't bother much with parenthesis and long lists of alternatives anyway; they play through the main lines and read the prose. The minor alternatives are consulted only if the mainline cannot easily be understood. It’s also obvious that books are getting outdated quite quickly these days and there is a growing number of chess book buyers who actively (and skilfully) use databases and analysis engines to supplement their books.
I would like to write a 'Outline Book' which assumes that the reader has access to a database and a strong analysis engine where I on roughly 100 pages offer:
- An introduction with some suggestions about how to best make use of a database (players to watch, critical lines etc.) and an analysis engine (what is it good and bad at?).
- A fairly detailed 'outline' of a repertoire but with very sparse game references.
- Some inspirational games with verbal and rather light annotations.
- All necessary warnings about 'dangerous terrain' - traps and lines where you cannot survive without detailed theoretical knowledge.