fair enough question

October 19, 2009

After the Daisy question, probably the most frequent query I’ve had from readers this month is this:

so many books, so little time
so many books, so little time
“Why did you publish the latest ‘Lakeshore Chronicles’ book, Lakeshore Christmas, in hardcover, after hooking readers into the series with paperback originals?”
A: I’m glad this question has been asked (and asked and asked) by readers. It is annoying to get hooked into a series at once price point–pocketbook-friendly paperbacks–and then to find the next eagerly awaited book as a hardback that costs more than twice as much.
The explanation is, it’s a balancing act. Having low-cost paperbacks available is a great way to build a readership. A reader is more likely to take a chance on an author she’s never read before if she only has to invest $8 or so in the book.
On the other hand, the lack of a hardcover edition creates huge problems for the public library. With their dwindling budgets, libraries can’t afford to buy many paperbacks, because they tend to fall apart. So that creates problems for libraries with tough choices to make.
When I decided to write a Christmas book about saving the library, the best choice seemed to be a hardcover edition, followed by a paperback edition a year later.
It’s not a perfect solution, and it doesn’t thrill me to ask paperback readers to wait. But anyone with a library card can read the book (or audio) for free by taking this form http://www.susanwiggs.com/library_form.html to the local library and asking them to acquire the book.
That said, I should point out that the decision about a book’s format is made by the publisher. Sometimes the author is consulted, sometimes not. The publisher makes the call based on their goals and marketing research.
Question for readers–does your library provide a “patron request” service? I’m happy to say mine does! Thank you, Kitsap Regional Library!

Q: “Why did you publish the latest ‘Lakeshore Chronicles’ book, Lakeshore Christmas,* in hardcover, after hooking readers into the series with paperback originals?”

A: I’m glad this question has been asked (and asked and asked) by readers. It is annoying to get hooked into a series at once price point–pocketbook-friendly paperbacks–and then to find the next eagerly awaited book as a hardback that costs more than twice as much.

The explanation is, it’s a balancing act between fulfilling the mass market needs (individual readers) with the hardcover market reads (libraries and hardcover fans). Having low-cost paperbacks available is a great way to build a readership. A reader is more likely to take a chance on an author she’s never read before if she only has to invest $8 or so in the book.

On the other hand, the lack of a hardcover edition creates huge problems for the public library. With their dwindling budgets, libraries can’t afford to buy many paperbacks, because they tend to fall apart. So that creates problems for libraries with tough choices to make.

When I decided to write a Christmas book about saving the library, the best choice seemed to be a hardcover edition, followed by a paperback edition a year later.

It’s not a perfect solution, and it doesn’t thrill me to ask paperback readers to wait. But anyone with a library card can read the book (or audio or large print edition) for free by taking this form to the local library and asking them to acquire the book.

That said, I should point out that the decision about a book’s format is made by the publisher. Sometimes the author is consulted, sometimes not. The publisher makes the call based on their goals and marketing research.

Question for readers–does your library provide a “patron request” service? I’m happy to say mine does! Thank you, Kitsap Regional Library!

*Note: All the links in this article will take you to WorldCat.org, or Better World Books.  Both are book sites with a social conscience and library-centric attitude. 🙂

| 4 Comments
  • And here is where I would issue my now-standard plug for the e-Reader format. Because my Kindle edition of Lakeshore Christmas only set me back $9.99. (Not that I wouldn’t have paid more, mind you.) And since I can’t read hardbacks any longer, this means I don’t have to wait to read it.

    Although I am waiting until after Thanksgiving. I just can’t read Christmas books before then.

  • This is my all time favorite series — by any author — and to me, it’s such a beautiful book, as well as such a wonderful story, that it’s worth the extra money to buy it in hard cover. Besides, it will live on my bookshelf forever for me to enjoy over and over again during the holidays.

  • A very interesting answer. My human is a frequent library patron because of the research he’s involved in and observed that libraries would be wise to universally follow your “advice.” A larger number of trade paper editions are appearing on the shelves and they deteriorate quickly. I’m going to put your post (and site) on a slip of paper and drop on our local librarian’s desk next time we visit… http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com

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