Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Paperbacks R.I.P.?

According to Sandra Scoppettone's recent blog there will be no more mass market paperbacks published after 2007 or thereabouts. Everything will be hardcover or trade paperback.

I sure hope this is a wild rumor. It's hard for me to fathom a world without paperbacks as we know and love them. Granted, they're mighty expensive these days, but they're cheaper than tpbs or hcs, as we aficionados call them.

Do publishers really think people will spend two- to four times the cost of a pb for a book by a newcomer or non-bestselling author? Or are mass market pbs unprofitable these days, forcing this change? Beats me.

It would seem to me that if the major publishers did discontinue paperbacks there would be a huge void left and some enterprising newcomers would rush in to fill it. After all, paperbacks started in order to serve a need (cheap books for the common man/woman) and that need still exists despite the deplorable dearth of new readers spewed from the hallowed halls of modern learning.

I won't even go into the issues of shelf space and convenience that can only be satisfied by paperbacks. I'll just say that if there are no more new paperbacks to read I'll finally have an excuse to read all the old ones I've been stashing away for the past 20+ years.


Bill said...

I saw that comment, Cap'n Bob, and I find it as hard to believe as you do. Let's hope it's just a rumor. I know I'm an old fart who's opposed to changes in the world as I know it, but no more paperbacks? Surely not.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

Hello Bob,
I can't believe I found you. That makes it sound like I've been looking for years and that's not the case. But I stumbled on your blog never knowing it was you.

At any rate, it's not a rumor. I got this from a very reliable source in the publishing world. Mass paperbacks aren't profitable. And as I said, eventually HC's will be history. You may not like it but spending 12 to 14 dollars on a book makes more sense than 25 for a HC or 8 for a mass market pb. As far as shelving tpb all that will change, too. If they continue to use racks they'll accommodate tpb. I've already seen these racks in several stores.

Don't despair. You'll get used to it.

Nice to talk to you again.

Andy J said...

In a very selfish way I'll be glad to see the mass market paperback die. Even before the prices got out of hand, I swore them off because all too often (because of the cheap paper), even when they were brand new, most of them looked several years old already or like they'd sat in the sun too long. Penguin of course is one of the worst offenders. I agree though that few will be willing to gamble the $14 or $15 price to try a new writer. I'm just counting on having a bigger selection of trade paperbacks to choose from for half price at the Strand. Since I swore off pbs years ago I missed some great stuff including those two pi books by Judson or someone sounding like that (see already I've forgotten his name). Personally I think the whole book industry is going to be in the toilet soon. The world is changing rapidly but the whole industry is standing still. They're only lucky that the technology hasn't hurt them yet. You can burn a CD for 15 cents or a DVD for 40 cents but almost nobody is going to xerox a whole book except in rare instances. That too will change in ways unknown as yet.

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