Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The times, they are a-changin'

Bantam Dell Publishing Group retails Rex Stout's The League of Frightened Men for $19 in trade paperback. It also sells The League of Frightened Men with Fer-de-Lance for $15, also in trade paperback. What is the point? Perhaps to force you into buying two books for less than the price of one?

Who knows?

Stout recently graduated from mass market to trade paperback, doubling the price of each title and foiling any completists who had hoped to gather the entire series in a uniform collection. By upping the size of the book by 25 percent, publishers also upped the price by 100% and then wondered aloud why the backlist has fallen on hard times.

This is a trend among publishers which will no doubt continue until mass market paperbacks are mere memory. Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May mysteries, currently retailing in mass market at $6.99 will be bumped up in both size and price ($13) once White Corridor is issued in trade paper in September. Our particular stores sells Fowler's mass market titles very well; the trade paperback will be a push. Still, we can hope that the raised price will encourage publishers to keep backlist in print longer then they currently do.

Meanwhile, this should prove a boon to libraries and used bookstores as patronage will no doubt increase, further cutting into publishers' profits and forcing more price increases not so far down the timeline.

That leaves the small bookseller in the proverbial lurch. They are already fighting online booksellers and big box stores for customers who wonder why small bookstore prices aren't as good (meaning "as low") as Amazon or Borders. It has become difficult for the small bookstore to compete when the big guys are selling books at a discounted price that many smaller stores are paying at the wholesaler (and then they pay for shipping).

So visit your small book retailer soon. In a few years you'll be able to tell your grandchildren that there used to be stores that sold books and some of the people who worked in those stores actually had some knowledge of what they were selling.

Your grandchildren will laugh at you and ask if you used to get there by trolley car ... and, by the way grandpa, what is a book exactly?

1 comment:

Susan said...

Remember for a used bookstore to get a book, the book had to have been sold at one point as new.

Viva les librairie ind├ępendant!