Do You Read Epilogues?

Do You Read Epilogues?

I had always assumed that all my readers would read an epilogue. Who doesn’t want a glimpse of the happily ever after?

Umm. Apparently, less than half of people who finish the book.

Thanks to a company called Jellybooks, which is based in London, we are discovering much more about how people read, and the results are surprising.

A New York Times article about the company explains how Jellybooks tracks reading behavior for specific publishers, who want to know whether certain books will be well received. Based on how many readers finish the books, publishers will decide whether to scale back on marketing or to spend even more than they planned. However, authors can also learn a few tips from the data. For example, looking at the charts in the New York Times article, it appears that a significant number of readers skip over front matter, including a preface, and go straight to chapter one. The same is true for the back matter, including an epilogue.

Because of this information, I changed the “Epilogue” in my last book into “Chapter 33–Eight Months Later” just in case.

I have my doubts about this study, however. Most of Jellybook’s readers signed up because they wanted to receive free e books. They may, therefore, read quite differently from someone who purchased a book.

I suspect that JAFF readers are more likely to read an epilogue, so please let me know: Do you read epilogues? If you don’t, I’d love to know why.


55 Responses to Do You Read Epilogues?

  1. I do like epilogues and always read them BUT please don’t tell me of how she put flowers on his grave or Georgiana put flowers on both their graves. I only want to hear of further marriages and of children and even their names and relationships with cousins. I also read prologues. Thank you very much.

  2. I read everything in a book, but I think too many people associate “preface” and “epilogue” with academic books. An epilogue can be anything that “rounds out” a story, but in my mind, if your “epilogue” is a straight continuation of the story, even after a period of time, it’s probably not an epilogue. An epilogue should comment or reflect on the action rather than continue it. Shakespeare’s epilogue to “Romeo and Juliet” doesn’t continue the story, it plays violins about the unhappy lovers. If the reader can skip the epilogue and still have the story, then it’s an epilogue. I am considering an epilogue at the end of my trilogy, and it would not continue the story. Think of it as broadening the camera’s eye to take in scenes beyond the immediate storyline.

  3. Hi,
    What an interesting post!!
    Gotta admit that when I open up my kindle book I backtrack to look at the cover and read every page from there onwards.

    I like when an epilogue is included but I don’t find it absolutely necessary nor am I always disappointed if one is absent. Some books lend themselves to an epilogue,some leave the ‘happy ever after’ to the readers’ imagination.
    I’m happy with either scenario.
    Thanks for your post,it provided some food for thought.

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