If you’re going to charge someone $25 for a hardcover nonfiction book and do it via industrial publishing, you have to make the customers feel they’re getting $25 worth, which means the book has to be loooooong … even if the author does not possess an argument requiring 300 pages. (Thus we find so many books that are really just magazine articles gasified to fill the container.)
I could not agree more. Maybe one in twenty five non-fiction books I read has a thesis that justifies its length. Between the blurb, introduction and conclusion, the time strapped reader can get all they need from the book. The remaining 200+ pages is the gasification Thompson is talking about. A serialized essay would be a much better way to go. Each edition would stand on it's own and the sum of them all would tell a larger story.