Re: RARA-AVIS: Digest Number 1666

From: jacquesdebierue (
Date: 13 Oct 2007

--- In, Patrick King <abrasax93@...> wrote:
> What appears to be going on in modern publishing, is
> that a specific price is wanted for every book:
> hardcovers about $30.00, paperbacks about $10.

This seems to be true, alas.

> justify these prices, publishers offer a lot of paper.

┬┐But don't people buy the slimmer books at the same price as the fat ones, around $10? If I want to buy a paperback copy of Double Indemnity, I doubt that they'll give me a discount because the book is short... This seems to contradict the fact that the thickness is what drives the price up.

> I remember when Peyton Place came out in paperback.
> That was the original "blockbuster" book, and quite
> 'noir,' too, btw. It was about 400 pages as I recall
> and it sold for 50 cents, 15 cents more than most
> paperbacks at that time. It seems to me that
> publishers noted a great big book could justify a
> higher price. Now, they don't want anything but great
> big books and they'll ruin a perfectly good little
> story by forcing it into fat format.

It's happening all right... the last Robert B. Parker novel I read
(quite a while ago, not very recently) was a hardcover, and a story that would have been fine as a short story, or at most a novella, was stretched into a novel by padding. In that case, they also did the design with bigger type and wider spacing of lines, to make it seem longer. I thought there was something ridiculous about the trick. And I've read enough books where a subplot or some secondary characters were used to pad a perfectly fine, sometimes great story, thereby ruining it.

During the Block months, it should be instructive to compare the Scudders as time goes by. My impression (from memory, without checking) is that they become progressively fatter.



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