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.At the Guardian.
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?
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.)