Hardback books: what’s the point? Money, prestige, space

Why do publishers continue to issue hardback books when most books are either paperbacks or digital.

The Guardian of London put this question to Phillip Jones, editor of the Bookseller, and got the answer, or answers, you might expect.

Money, first and foremost.

Hardback books are highly profitable. Publishers reckon they can sell a hardback for twice (or more) the price of a paperback, but a hardback doesn’t cost nearly twice as much to produce. Plus this:

If a hardback becomes a bestseller, the publisher will often delay the paperback release even though that limits the book’s sales potential.

Prestige is the second big reason.

A hardback book sends a message of depth and quality — a message that reviewers need if they are going to pay attention to the book.

The hardback is a mark of quality and a demonstration of intent on behalf of the publisher: it shows booksellers and reviewers that this is a book worth paying attention to.

Finally, space.

Hardback books take up more space in bookstores and draw more attention.

The hardback is the prop forward of the book world: it bashes its way through a crowded marketplace giving the book/author a foothold before the pacier paperback races through.

Well, this is all interesting and not too surprising, but it’s all pretty old-world stuff — especially the part about space in a bookstore. On Amazon and other digital bookstores, the hardback takes up about as much space as any other item.

And their price looks pretty huge.

Still, folks who like to have books on their shelves at home or in the office like hardbacks. It’s prestige and space. Forget the cost.

Source: Book clinic: why do publishers still issue hardbacks? | Books | The Guardian

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Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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One Response to Hardback books: what’s the point? Money, prestige, space

  1. Essay March 11, 2018 at 7:22 am #

    I can’t seem to bring myself to mark up a hardback or paperback the same way.

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