"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cover Story: Is this the End of the Hardcover Book?

Picador plans to publish most of its titles as "B format" paperbacks - of the kind used for paperback editions of novels by the likes of Ian McEwan and Anne Enright. The firm's publisher Andrew Kidd told The Bookseller: "We want to help well-reviewed authors get straight to their readers." At the same time, Picador's novels will also appear in limited hardback print runs, produced for the people who prefer to acquire books with cloth covers, boards, endpapers and so on, and who don't mind paying for those luxuries.

Such people, though, are few in number. So why have publishers persisted for so long in bringing out hardback novels, pushing for reviews and interviews with the authors, and waiting until everyone has forgotten about the publicity before issuing the affordable editions?
At the Guardian.

Does it matter if it is the end? I buy few books in hardcover, only those for which I can't bear to wait for the paperbacks, which I prefer -- easier to handle, lighter to carry, less space to store. And, yes, cheaper, so my book-buying budget goes a longer way. The same argument can be made for used books, which I do buy, but the rule I try to stick to is, once I have bought a used book by an author and liked it, I buy the next one new (in paperback, usually), to support the author and the publishing industry. (I bet they are happy to hear that. Well, they would be if they knew how many books I buy.)


Jim Murdoch said...

There are plenty of things I feel nostalgic about but the hardback book won't be one of them. It's only time before the paperback follows it. I hailed the arrival of the CD but I never expected to see its replacement in my lifetime. Old fogies like me will still hang onto our music in tangible format but the next generation will be, I imagine, less interested in the packaging (which is all a CD or a book is at the end of the day) than they will be in its content. Finally a world where books are not judged by their covers! Instead they'll be judged by how glossy their marketing campaign is.

Zen of Writing said...

Hm, thought they were already judged by their marketing campaigns...at least whenever I have picked up a recent "bestseller," I have felt taken.

I like paperbacks, but if someone developed a good, readable e-book reader, I'd be happy, I think, just having carted home the complete and unabridged O. Henry.