Fuse #8

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Two takes on an (outdated? inspired?) business model

To offer books entirely in hardcover or to start them off in softcover. That is the question that NYT columnist Edward Wyatt brought up with his article about publishers starting to put out new authors in paperback rather than hardcover. Sounds great, right? I mean, it would be more affordable. Is there a downside? Well, the blogs have been kind enough to offer two beautifully conflicting opinions on the matter. bookshelves of doom is all for this new idea, except that she has a real problem with the fact that the books will be put out in "ragged-edge editions". In contrast my favorite blogging literary agent Miss Snark has an alternate response. When a reader posted his rant against hardcovers she had this to say:

"Yes, I push for hardcover editions cause it's good for library sales, and national reviews. Yes, I like trade paper originals to build genre writers. However, for literary fiction, I know my market is librarians who read LJ, Kirkus and PW and will buy a hardcover book, not a guy in Brooklyn thumbing through the inventory at Brownstone Books thinking 'do I want to buy this' no matter how nice he is".

True that. If I know librarians, and I think I do, they're going to buy the hardcover editions of the new books out there. Paperbacks aren't going to last on a library shelf for very long, and they certainly won't be remembered as well. The modern equivalents of the dime novel? You be the judge.


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