First Novels & Memoirs discussion

general discussions > Paperback v. Hardcover

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message 1: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey (kelseym) | 6 comments Mod
I've noticed lately that an increasing number of novels are being published as paperbacks. The NY Times now has a new "Trade fiction" section. Barnes & Noble and Borders have "Quality fiction" tables (I think that's what they're called). Or sometimes these books are called "Trade paperback originals." Basically, I think the definition for the books I'm referring to is any literary fiction (versus, say commercial or mass market books like James Patterson or David Balducci- but that's a whole separate discussion, mass market v. literary is a blurry line too!...).

So I'm wondering, what do people think about these TPOs (Trade Paper Originals) versus Hardcovers? Especially for debut novels?

In general, I don't buy hardcovers. Neither of my book clubs buy hardcovers. $10 for a movie? Ok, that seems reasonable. $26 for a work from a debut novelist? Hmmm...I don't know. Really, there's something about the price point between $10-$14 that feels MUCH easier then hardcover prices. It's an emotional thing I think. (really the only way I buy hardcovers is through amazon since they discount so heavily).

But the bigger question is, if a debut is a TPO is it still a book to be respected as much as a hardcover? Maybe hardcover is still the best way to signal that something is a Big Important Book with Big Important Themes and that it is worthy of having the arbiters of literature pay attention?? Also, there's something romantic about the hardcover. I'd imagine that maybe some authors might be disappointed to have their many years of hard work rewarded with a TPO publication? But that shouldn't be the case. If the goal is to have as many people read a first novel (especially when, in most instances, you've never heard of this person before), shouldn't many more first novels be TPOs?

And the competition is so great now, with movies, dvds, music, on-demand. And most dangerously, many people spend their time addicted to websites like goodreads instead of reading :). Really though, I have a sneaking suspicion that places like Borders sell more coffee then literature. Ok, so Jay McInerny's Bright Lights Big City was a paperback original that obviously sold very well (I know, that was so long ago - pre-internet even so you can't really compare). Last year a book called Man Gone Down was named one of the 10 best books by the NYT (and I’m sure there are many more examples). And in general you’ll now see wide coverage of TPOs in major publications. So is there any reason that any first time novelist should be published in hardcover?

What do people think?

message 2: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Delors (CatherineDelors) | 1 comments Well, my debut novel, Mistress of the Revolution, was released in hardcover last March, and the paperback won't be out until 2009.

For an author, it makes a great deal of difference in the royalties you get, but you can sell many more copies in paperback, especially these days, when people are hurting to buy the gas to get to bookstores, let alone buy books.

Another very important factor to consider: libraries buy hardcovers. So if you go direct to paperback, you will miss that segment of the market.

Hope this helps!

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