The Rise of the Paperback Novel | Kirkus ReviewsPremium-quality hardbacks command a high price on the book's release, before cheaper paperbacks mop up mass-market sales. Like most of the titles nominated for the prize, Mr Flanagan's work is so far available only in hardback format in most markets. At 22cm 9 inches long, pages deep and weighing in at more than half a kilogram, it isn't a convenient thing to lug around. A lighter, cheaper paperback edition will be published next year in both countries. But why do books come out in heavy, expensive hardback format first?
Is Mass Market Dying, Or Just Evolving—Again?
Many hardback publishers were reluctant to get involved, early lists were compelled to focus on elderly classics rather than new works, and even George Orwell sounded a note of protectionist caution. It was a great mistake, he suggested, in a review of the first 10 Penguin titles, to imagine that cheap books were good for the book trade, for the punter with five shillings to spend in a price-cutting market would probably end up parting with a mere one and six and blowing the rest on cinema tickets. This made for a promising start, and yet most publishing historians would probably argue that it was the Second World War that allowed Penguin to come into its own. Sir Allen saw himself as an educator, a taste-broker keen to point his readers in a direction they might find intellectually useful. Doubtless their descendants have their niches: some of them found a home on the fringes of the Liberal Party; others may even have voted for Jeremy Corbyn. But if the herbivore is dead, then, happily, Sir Allen made another contribution to our national life, every bit as potent now as when it was first conceived. Nor did they simply bolster the social arrangements of which the majority of their readers took advantage.
The story about the first Penguin paperbacks may be apocryphal, but it is a good one. In , Allen Lane, chairman of the eminent British publishing house Bodley Head, spent a weekend in the country with Agatha Christie. Bodley Head, like many other publishers, was faring poorly during the Depression, and Lane was worrying about how to keep the business afloat. While he was in Exeter station waiting for his train back to London, he browsed shops looking for something good to read. He struck out. All he could find were trendy magazines and junky pulp fiction.
Back when people had to leave the house if they wanted to buy something, the biggest problem in the book business was bookstores. There were not enough of them. Bookstores were clustered in big cities, and many were really gift shops with a few select volumes for sale. Publishers sold a lot of their product by mail order and through book clubs, distribution systems that provide pretty much the opposite of what most people consider a fun shopping experience—browsing and impulse buying. They were experts at merchandising. They manufactured a certain number of titles every year, advertised them, sold as many copies as possible, and then did it all over the next year.
Along with many other products of our culture, paperbacks have become a very active area for collecting. This article gives a short history of this quite interesting artifact, and a very brief overview of what collectors in the category generally look for.
what you left behind a novel
A paperback , also known as a softcover or softback , is a type of book characterized by a thick paper or paperboard cover, and often held together with glue rather than stitches or staples. In contrast, hardcover or hardback books are bound with cardboard covered with cloth. The pages on the inside are made of paper. Inexpensive books bound in paper have existed since at least the 19th century in such forms as pamphlets , yellowbacks , dime novels , and airport novels. In the U. Paperback editions of books are issued when a publisher decides to release a book in a low-cost format.
Half a century before e-books turned publishing upside down, a different format threatened to destroy the industry. A movie ticket set you back 20 cents. For a nation suffering 20 percent unemployment, books were an impossible expense. But in just one day, Robert de Graff changed that. The ad was timed to coincide with the debut of his newest endeavor, an imprint called Pocket Books. Starting with a test run of 10 titles, which included classics as well as modern hits, de Graff planned to unleash tote-able paperbacks on the American market.