October 7th, 2010

When back-list books go POD

Some publishers are experimenting with turning backlist books into Print-on-Demand titles. They're not actually printed until they are ordered by a bookseller.

One downside to this idea is that a book might never be considered out-of-print, so the rights would never revert back to the author. Speaking as someone who made a few dollars putting her out-of-print backlist on the Kindle ( April's books on the Kindle), that would be a bad thing.

But here’s another downside I hadn’t realized: cost. A POD version of a traditional mass market paperback or trade paperback costs much more. As Seattle Mystery Books notes on its blog:
“We needed to reorder David Rosenfelt's Sudden Death. This was a regular 'ol mass market paperback, $7.99 from Warner. (Warner no longer exists as a publisher - it is now Hachette). But at some point, the book was switched to this POD system. What arrived was a trade paperback edition priced at $20.99 AND with a much lower discount. So now the book is far more expensive to put on the shelf and nearly impossible to sell at that price.

“Leslie Silbert's Intelligencer is a book that Fran sells (guess I should say 'sold) continually. It is a dual-time thriller, set in the past and the present, a private eye story and a bibliomystery. Since 2005 when it came out as a $14 trade paperback from Simon & Schuster, we sold 82 copies. Now it is a POD from Ingram priced at $22.99.

“We'll no longer be stocking these titles.”
Read more here.

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The cat came back

I forgot to tell you guys, but the cat reappeared after an absence of five days. [Full disclosure: it is nearly impossible to get a cat to look into the camera.] Did her "owner" (the guy who lives in the condos across the street and goes on business trips without making any provisions for her to eat or drink) keep her inside? Did she find someone else who felt sorry for her? No idea, but I'm just glad to know she's not dead.

My mom christened her after she miraculously appeared from the county pound, 30 miles, two freeways and one river away (her "owner" actually sprung her, and then turned her out with no food again).

Mom calls her Yo-Yo.

She's certainly living up to her name.

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The decline of picture books

I've been hearing this from so many writers and agents, but a story in the New York Times underlines that the picture book is really in trouble.

The story begins, "Picture books are so unpopular these days at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., that employees there are used to placing new copies on the shelves, watching them languish and then returning them to the publisher. “So many of them just die a sad little death, and we never see them again,” said Terri Schmitz, the owner."

One reason is that parents are pressing kids to read up. The article highlights a mom who says her 6 1/2 year old is a reluctant reader. "“He would still read picture books now if we let him, because he doesn’t want to work to read,” she said, adding that she and her husband have kept him reading chapter books." [Full disclosure: that made me wince. I want kids to see books as fun, not work.]

Another reason is cost. I did an event the other day with a bunch of authors, and I was surprised that many of their books cost more than my hardcover novel-length book.

A third is the growth in YA. From the article: "“Young adult fiction has been universally the growing genre,” said Ms. Lotz of Candlewick, “and so as retailers adapt to what customers are buying, they are giving more space to that and less space to picture books.”"

Read more here.

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