RARA-AVIS: Dear Constant Reader....

Kevin Smith (kvnsmith@colba.net)
Sun, 20 Sep 1998 15:02:03 -0500 Hey!

Books! Trade paperbacks. Why?

Oversized, overpriced paperbacks. Yuppiebacks.This is not good news!
Walter Mosley's Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned is now out in trade
paperback, and it's a whopping 14 bucks (that's 20 Canadian!!!). This is
not a limited-interest book that will only turn a profit if it's released
in a higher-priced edition, which is the story some small-run publishers
use, and which makes sense; this is a guaranteed seller from a writer with
a good track record. To me, this is price-gouging, pure and simple.

If this continues, we'll soon have books released in three versions:
hardcover-for the rich, trade-for the real fan who occasionally feels like
splurging, and a paperback in four or five years for everyone else. Richard
Stark's Comeback just came out this way, and supposedly Grafton's new one
will be in this format.

If it were just new books, okay, maybe I could understand. Or releasing
books in this format instead of hardcover (which seems very big in places
like the U.K.) would be fine. But now they're reissuing books in this
format that were previously (and are still, for now) readily available in
the cheaper, paperback versions (no doubt until the old stock runs out).
Sometimes they're on the same shelves! Let's see, Get Shorty, $6.50 by
Dell; same book, in trade paperback, by the same publisher under an alias,
Delta, $9.95. Comeback by Stark is $14 in trade paperback. And all Ellroy's
stuff is now being released this way, too. All Ross Macdonald's came out
this way recently also.

My question is, how many of you, who were anxiously waiting for the
paperback version of new books to come out, will plop down $10, $12, $14,
whatever bucks? Will you buy fewer books? Be more selective? Less likely to
try a new author? I figure, ultimately, this will mean less books printed
by new authors. Am I wrong?

I'm not arguing a publisher's right to make money...I'm just exercising my
right to bitch about what, to me, at least, seems to be a fair bit of
contempt for the consumer....do writers get a bigger chunk of the take out
of this, too?

I was discussing this with the equally-ticked off owner of a mystery
bookstore recently, and she said she won't be ordering any of Elmore
Leonard's or Ellroy's back catalogue because she says she won't be able to
sell them...that people will look for the older, cheaper editions, or even
buy them used...yes the price of everything goes up, but some new editions
of books are twice the price of last year's edition...

Are publishers figuring most people only a few books a year anyway, so they
can afford to piss off the relatively few who buy books constantly?

Okay, thanks for letting me get that off my chest....I'll go back in my
hole now....

Kevin Smith
Back to school and time to hit the books...the comic books, that is...
Private eyes and comics in this month's P.I. Poll on The Thrilling
Detective Web Site

Now with fresh fiction monthly....

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