Bookish Musings: Do You Read Prequels?

Is it just me, or do prequels seem to have exploded into popularity? And let's not forget the shorts and novellas and extra things that are published in between full length books.

*Activates grandma voice* Back in my day, we didn't even have prequels. We only got however many books were in the series, and we had to rely on flashbacks and our imaginations to figure out more about the stories and the characters. It gave us something to do while we walked five miles in the snow.

Seriously though, all this extra material does seem to be rather popular nowadays. I'm sure it's been talked about before, but *I* haven't come across any discussions on it, so let's do this!

So first, the question…

Do I read prequels?


If I love the series:
Hell yes! Of course I read the prequel. And every short, novella, extra, and deleted scene in existence. I want every bit of information I can get on my beloved characters. I couldn’t stand to know there’s something out there about them that I haven’t read.

If I dislike the series and am only reading it because I’m forcing myself to for some reason:
No. I’m already forcing myself through the books as it is, why would I torture myself further with a prequel?

If I feel kinda meh about the series or am enjoying it but not LOVING it:
It depends. If I can get the prequel for free, then I might read it. In some cases I still won’t though.

But are prequels always a good thing?


The thing about prequels (and shorts/novellas/etc., but I’m just going to use the word prequel from here on out to keep it simple) is, I feel like they’ve become overdone. Not every series needs a prequel.

It seems like many of the ones I’ve read were pointless. A prequel should add to the story. If it doesn’t do that, truly do that, should it really exist?

Showing me some random event from the POV of a character who was barely a character in the novel or not in the novel at all, for example, rarely adds to the story. Those types of prequels make me feel like the author simply wanted to make more money and wasn’t concerned with actually giving the readers something of value. Showing me the events leading directly up to the start of the first book, the way two characters met, the relationships they used to have, or something traumatic that happened that shapes who the protag currently is or shapes the story, however, most definitely adds to the story. And I will gladly hand over my money to know those things.

Deleted scenes, scenes from a different character’s POV, or even unnecessary prequels that authors give away as freebies are a different thing entirely. I will never complain about anything an author gives away for free, no matter how random or seemingly unimportant to the story, because those things are just fun for loyal readers of the series.

So now I turn the questions over to you!


Talk to me!

Do you read prequels and other extra material?
Do you feel they've become overdone?
Do you think they should be sold even if they don't add something to the story?


Your Thoughts


38 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Do You Read Prequels?

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  1. Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing

    Yes, I read prequels and all bonus material but only if it is part of series I TRULY love and adore. But I can count such series on fingers on my hands so there are not many of prequels I read or would want to read. For example, I am huge Outlander fan and when author announced that she is writing full-novel prequel about parents of main male character, I was incredibly happy about it because I love writing and world that author created. But I don’t make a habit out of reading prequels in general, main storyline is usually enough for me.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Agreed, I can only think of maybe five series I’ve been willing to read extra material for. The main storyline is usually enough for me too. Glad you’re getting (or already got?) an Outlander prequel though since you love that series! (I’ve been meaning to try the first book!)

  2. Jitty @ Just Jitty

    The series has to be either something I completely love and adore or if the prequel comes out first. Sometimes a prequel comes out before the “actual” series (which makes no sense to me, why don’t you just make it part of the series) but if it comes out after the series is finished or in progress then it really depends on how much I enjoy the series. I have read several prequels, but I definitely haven’t read as many prequels as series I have read.

    I am also in the same boat with novellas. I really need to love the series because novellas just feel like a strip tease half the time. It gives you enough for a story but nowhere near enough to satisfy your craving. What I would prefer to understand is why they simply can’t make them full books. i would probably read way more prequels and novellas if the story was actually “normal size.” I hate getting so into the story and then its over almost as soon as it starts…

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’ve never read a prequel first. That actually makes no sense to me either because I would just call that Book 1. I feel like prequels are supposed to give extra backstory once you’ve started or finished the series.

      Haha I have never seen novellas compared to strip teases before. I applaud you on your comparison πŸ˜› I agree though, I much prefer full-length books. I mean, I’m a series person because even a single book often isn’t enough for me! So half a book really doesn’t cut it. There are some prequels that are full-length or near full-length though. Those are good if you’re into the series.

  3. Madilyn Quinn

    If it doesn’t add anything to the story, it should be free. I don’t really read prequels though. I mean, I used to be obsessed with Harry Potter and I still haven’t read anything on Pottermore. I guess, I just let it go when I finish a series – even if I really liked it.

    1. Kristen Burns

      On rare occasion I do come across a series that sucks me in too much for me to just let it go! But considering prequels didn’t really used to be a thing and series should give you everything you need to know without them, I can understand why you don’t read them, even if you like the series.

  4. Angela @ Simply Angela

    Like you, if I loved the series, I will happily devour everything the author puts out. Although sometimes I do feel as though it’s a bit overdone, especially when the material doesn’t add anything to the story. What really bothers me is when the author leaves massive gaps in the story just to be able to sell novellas, shorts, and/or prequels. It really turns me off a book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I haven’t come across any series yet in which the author purposely left gaps like that, but that would turn me off too. But I did get a bit annoyed with one of my favorite series when I spent money on a short and then it didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t know already or add anything to the story. So these are definitely becoming overdone.

  5. Anissa @ She Reads Too Much

    This is such a great post and a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I really don’t like reading prequels or novellas or any type of bonus material, even if I totally love a series. For example, Throne of Glass is probably my all-time favourite series, but I haven’t read the novellas The Assassin’s Blade because I’m scared of how it’s going to make me feel about the characters in the series, like are they going to be different? I don’t want to change my precious babies! xDxD I actually haven’t read a novella before, only short stand-alone novellas. I feel like I should definitely try one day though, I could end up loving them!! πŸ˜€

    1. Kristen Burns

      Hmmm, that’s a different way of looking at it that I hadn’t heard before. I get what you’re saying, but I get too obsessed with certain series and want to know as much as possible, whether it’s good or bad! But I’ve never read a prequel after finishing an entire series, so maybe reading them while I’m still in the middle of the series just feels like more character development, not like they’re suddenly changing? Does that make sense? Lol.

  6. Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    I typically don’t read novellas. I don’t know why! I’ve read a few of the Grisha Trilogy novellas and loved them because they brought backstory to the world, but I haven’t all of them. It’s also taking me a loonng time to read them.

    I dunno, I guess novellas seem a bit like throw-away books to me. In the fact that they aren’t pressing and I don’t need them for the next installment.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Actually, I don’t think I’ve come across a lot of series with novellas? I can only think of a couple, and I didn’t bother with them. One of the series I even really like, but, as you said, I didn’t NEED them, and they weren’t even about the main characters, so they didn’t seem worth my time.

  7. Sofia @ Bookish Wanderess

    I don’t read prequels, extras, or novellas, I think I have done it like once or twice, but that’s it. I don’t really know why I don’t feel like reading them, maybe I don’t see the point to them. I feel like if something need it to be in the books, or if the author thought it was important enough, then it would have been in the books. I think it’s being overdone and it’s about the money, maybe not for the author, but definitely for the publishers. I think it has become so popular, because they realised it gives them more money.

    Great job with the discussion! I had not seen a discussion about this topic before.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I get what you’re saying. They definitely shouldn’t be required because, as you said, the necessary information should be (and generally is) already in the books. I still like them when it’s a series I love with characters I’m dying to know more about, but I’ve also seen plenty that seemed unnecessary, like they were only written for the money. Thanks πŸ™‚

  8. Tiffany

    It depends. If I love the series, then yes. Especially if the series is finished, and I’m not ready to let go of the characters. However, I hate when they are just random stories. I’m only interested in new information, and don’t care about scenes that hold no importance for the main storyline or characters. Prequels, novellas, etc are rampant, and annoying. Instead, I’d rather the author release the next book earlier than writing all that extra crap.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Agreed, I hate those ones that don’t even seem related to the story. Just being set in the world isn’t enough for me. I agree that I’d rather have the next book sooner than unnecessary in-between things that just take more time, but, like you, I still love prequels and extra tidbits for those series I’m not ready to leave.

  9. Greg

    Yes it has exploded, seems like. And “Activates grandma voice”- LOL. I generally would only read them if it’s something I’m really into, I ignore them otherwise. I pretty much agree with all of this. I know authors sometimes provide free stuff on their websites too, extra background or even stories and I do like the idea of that. if I remember to go read them!

    As far as overdone, yeah they probably are. I think if an author wants to pit it out there go for it- but you’re right, if it’s only tangentially related they shouldn’t be surprised if no one buys ’em. πŸ˜›

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol I couldn’t help myself. But do you know how hard it was to work something about walking in the snow into a paragraph about prequels? I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks it has exploded as of late though. But those extra free things are the best! I don’t check for most series, but for the ones I really love I usually end up checking the author’s site and signing up for their newsletters.

      Oh, that is the perfect description of what I was trying to say! Tangentially related. Those bother me because they seem like they’re just about the money. But I suppose it’s not like anyone is being forced to buy them, so authors can do what they want.

  10. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I only read prequels and novellas when I am in love with a series. If I’m still very caught up in this fictional world I become determined to get everything I can find to stay there a bit longer. I think, sometimes, these things get written because the authors feel the same way. They live and breath these things they’ve created and they probably find it hard to stop writing about these characters. They have all these scenes which they had which just didn’t fit in the book and they want to write it anyway, and I like that. That’s not always the case, but that’s how I think of it.

    I do find myself getting fed up with all these prequels and novellas getting released for every series out there, but it’s the new thing, isn’t it? It’s a new marketing thing to get money and a great why to build hype during the break between book released so people don’t forget about the series. That may be a bit cynical of me, but that’s how I often think of them. They are normally a thing you can take or leave when it comes to the story. Unless I’m in bookish love, I will always leave them.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes! Your whole first paragraph is perfect, and I feel the same way. When you think about it, probably the reason we get so stuck in those worlds is *because* the author is living and breathing them, and it comes out in the writing, making it real to us.

      Actually, your second paragraph is perfect too lol. It’s not cynical, at least not to me. Many of them do seem to be about the money. But here’s a thought, if you don’t want people to forget about the series, focus on writing the next book instead of writing novellas and shorts! That’s what really bothers me because I want that next book, but I just end up being forced to wait longer if I don’t want the extra stuff. So I agree, I really only read these things if I love the series.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree. I too really have to be invested, especially since I have a tiny book budget! But hell, even when they’re free I still have to be pretty invested or it’s just a waste of my time.

  11. Lola

    I agree prequels and novella’s seem to have gotten way more popular lately. I think it’s because of marketing, give the prequel for free or when subscribing to a newsletter or even for the extra money, but to be honest I really like them too overall. Especially when I rally like or love the series then I love all the extra stories we get about that story/ character and world.

    I usually try and read the prequels if possible, I once skipped a prequel and felt lost in the first book, so I think that often prequels do add something especially when they are written before the first book. I also read a romance with a prequel recently and was happy I read the prequel first as it gave you a bit more depth and background and makes you understand the start situation in book one better.
    If I am a bit meh about the series or the prequel is written later it just depends on the series if I will read it or not. Like you said if I can get it for free I most likely will, else I only grab it if I really want to read it or adds something to the story or a piece I am really interested in.

    And that brings to your other point I do want the prequel to add something. I have read some really good prequels and also some that didn’t add much or where so short they don’t have much content. And yes if those extra things that don’t add to the story are free I won’t complain either, but if you pay money for a prequel or novella I do want to get my money’s worth and have it add something to the story. Luckily a lot of prequels do that and often from the blurb you can already get a feel for what they add or not and I always try and read some reviews if possible. Also some authors can really ask too much for a short prequel, so many short stories still costs 3 dollars or more, which is the price for some full lenght books. Great topic!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I haven’t seen a whole lot of prequels offered for free, even with newsletters, at least not full length ones. I think it’s more about the extra money. You’re the first person who’s said they really like them though! I’m actually surprised since I thought, given how popular they’ve become, more people would like them. When I’m really loving a series, then I too love any extra I can get!

      I’ve never actually read a series that required a prequel to be read *first*. I’ve literally only read one prequel that was actually really helpful to the series. It was about novella length I think, so it was long enough, and it was a series I am LOVING, and it gave so much great background information. So they can definitely help if they’re done right.

      But again, a lot of them are not done right. Seriously, what’s up with those $3+ short stories?! They should definitely cost less. I’m a lot more willing to buy prequels and shorts if they only cost 99 cents or something. Thanks!

  12. Jen @ Books That Hook

    I’m laughing because I had this same topic slotted for a discussion; I guess I’ll have to think of another one. Anyway, I read the extra material sometimes, especially if I have heard that it’s necessary to understand what happens in the next book. I really don’t like that some authors do that, but as I have no control over it, I’m stuck reading the in-between material.

    Some prequels don’t even match up with the details in the next book. That’s aggravating, too.

    Other than when someone tells me it’s necessary, the times when I read them are: when I get it for free, when it’s an author I really love, and/or it’s stuck in an anthology I have to review.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh no! I’ve had that happen to me before, and it sucks! Just postpone it a bit, everyone will have forgotten all about my post in a few weeks πŸ˜› I’ll totally come comment on whatever new topic you think of in the meantime lol.

      I actually get aggravated when authors create extra material that’s necessary. Anything necessary should be in the book. Period. If I see that kind of thing before starting a series, I just won’t even bother (unless maybe it’s a series I REALLY want to read). I’ve never read a prequel that didn’t match up with details though. That would definitely make me unhappy. I also never review anthologies, so luckily I don’t have to deal with that, but the free ones are the best ones πŸ™‚

  13. Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    I have definitely noticed this trend! Personally, I don’t read many prequels/novellas in a series. The only time I really do is if they somehow impact the main story line. So, like the prequel for Red Queen about the queen before she was queen (lots of queen in that sentence), I won’t read that because I don’t think it really matters. On the other hand, The Night We Said Yes has a novella telling the same story from a the male’s POV prior to the events of the novel. I definitely read that one because it actually impacts the story in a way. My TBR is long enough, and I don’t want to stress myself out with all the 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 stories xD If I have time, or want an easy read, I may read them, though.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, if it’s really going to help me understand the story, I’m more likely to read it. Lol to all the queens in the sentence. But yes, I have enough to read, and I generally don’t count books toward my goal unless they’re a certain number of pages, so unnecessary shorts just take away from my time and my money and my goals!

  14. Nicola

    I’ve noticed prequel novellas have gotten a lot more common recently, too. I suspect it’s because the surge in popularity of ebooks has made them a financially viable marketing tool; physically publishing a short book is disproportionately expensive to its size, but 30k words from the love interest’s POV can sell for 99p with much less overhead, and it means readers don’t have to wait a year between full-length novel releases, during which time they might forget about the series.

    That said, I rarely read them, and even more rarely buy them. It has to be a series I really love and a perspective I’m intrigued to read for me to consider it worthwhile; whenever I’ve read novellas for series I enjoyed but didn’t love I just found them kind of dull and unengaging, so I tend to pass over them unless I’m in total fangirl mode πŸ˜‰

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes! I think you nailed it. It’s a recent thing because it wasn’t feasible in the past when all books were physical copies. Except authors could just get the actual next book to us sooner if they weren’t spending all their time writing the in between stuff, and they could keep us from forgetting about the series in that way -_-

      I agree though, I really have to LOVE the series in order to buy the extra stuff. They really are the best when you’re in fangirl mode though!

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  17. Bookworm Brandee

    I’m like you, Kristen, in that I really only read prequels and bonus material if it’s from a series I love. Otherwise, eh…I have better ways to spend my time. I do kinda think there are too many prequels out there nowadays…and really, if it was so important, why wasn’t it put in the book in the first place? I like how some authors, like Ilona Andrews, sometimes add deleted scenes and such at the end of a book and tell you at the beginning, ‘this is back there and it might add to your reading pleasure to read it before beginning this novel’. I also like it when authors give prequels on the websites for free (or elsewhere for free) as a thank you to their readers. But there are series, one in particular comes to mind, that was such a long series anyway (I felt it could’ve ended 3-4 books before it did) that put out several novellas in between…I really felt it was a money-making thing. Kinda pissed me off to be honest. I didn’t read them. πŸ˜‰
    Gosh, I think this post and my comment made my blood pressure rise a bit! LOL This is a great topic, Kristen! πŸ˜€

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh, yes, I’ve read some books that had scenes from another character’s POV at the end and gotten free deleted scenes, shorts, prequels, etc. from author websites and newsletters. Those types of things I love! Ugh, I too would be pissed off if I read a series like that. I hate when series drag out and have a million in between books because it really does seem like it’s all about the money. And that just shows me that the author doesn’t respect their readers. I avoid series like that if I notice it before I start. Or I just don’t read the extra stuff, so I don’t blame you for not reading them lol. Thanks πŸ™‚