27 July 2011

Hurry up and wait (for the paperback)

Paperback Publishers Quicken Their Pace
It used to be like clockwork in the book business: first the hardcover edition was released, then, about one year later, the paperback.

But in an industry that has been upended by the growth of e-books, publishers are moving against convention by pushing paperbacks into publication earlier than usual, sometimes less than six months after they appeared in hardcover…

Publishers say they have a new sense of urgency with the paperback, since the big, simultaneous release of hardcover and electronic editions now garners a book the bulk of the attention it is likely to receive, leaving the paperback relatively far behind. They may also be taking their cues from Hollywood, where movie studios have trimmed marketing costs by steadily closing the gap between the theatrical release of films and their arrival on DVD…

The entire publishing life cycle has sped up in recent years. Hardcovers have less time to prove themselves in bookstores, since retailers tend to move them off the shelves more quickly than they used to. E-book sales are usually strong in the initial period after the publication date but do not spike again after the paperback comes out, said Terry Adams, the digital and paperback publisher for Little, Brown & Company…

As bookstore owners pointed out, readers love paperbacks.

“It’s definitely making the consumer happy to have the paperback available sooner,” said Peter Aaron, the owner of the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, an independent store. “If there’s one form of printed book that will survive, if there was only one, it would be the trade paperback.”

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