by Dave Giorgio
Abridgment is the one of the least understood aspects of publishing that I have come across. While many people view abridgment as a work of the devil, I will happily play devil's advocate on this subject. I will do this simply to provide greater insight into a form of editing that is not the devil's tool, but rather, can provide a potentially heavenly outcome for some books.
So what is book abridgment? It is the process of taking your book and editing it down to get a lower word count. Many times, this is for the sake of releasing an audio book. In other cases, abridged versions of books serve as a "young readers" series. For example, my daughter and I once read an abridged version of “Treasure Island” when she was just starting to read chapter books. It was a great way for us to experience a classic story in a form that was digestible for her.
And you know what? Though I've read the original many times, and have even listened to the audio version of that book, I didn't miss anything from the original. That tells me that the abridgment was done particularly well.
In most other cases, abridgment works best for prescriptive non-fiction, which are books that fall into the how-to, self-help categories. In the case of a streamlined audio product, an abridged version will give the listener the most essential aspects of the book.
So what does the author gain? Aside from the publishing costs being reduced (which is a worthy subject unto itself), many authors enjoy the process of rendering their book down to its most vital parts. Some even consider abridgment a healthy aspect of the writing process, putting the author on the spot by asking: "Is this the most concise book I can write? Have I gotten to the point or have I danced around the main point of what I am saying?"
Whether for a non-fiction book, a children's book, or just for yourself, abridgment can provide a great deal of opportunity for the author.
Photo courtesy of dazmac.