"1. Never read any book that is not a year old. 2. Never read any but famed books. 3. Never read any but what you like; or, in Shakspeare's phrase, 'No profit goes where is no pleasure ta'en: In brief, sir, study what you most affect.'"

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Books"
Are Paperback Original Lesser Works than Hardbacks?

Joanne Kaufman writes about paperbacks for the Wall Street Journal, saying many people prefer hardbacks.

The belief that a paperback original, however worthy, will be given short shrift by reviewers tells part of the story. "Critics pay more attention to hardcovers even if they say they don't," said one agent who requested anonymity.
Vanity plays a role, an anonymous publisher tells Ms. Kaufman. "In almost every deal I do, the agent tries to get a contractual hardcover commitment even if the book isn't written yet and down the road it might become clear that paperback original is the way to go."


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Comments on "Are Paperback Original Lesser Works than Hardbacks?":
1. Loren Eaton - 09/27/2010 7:52 am EDT

I thought it was interesting in that article how the book reviewer for People said she would skip paperback originals in the ordering catalog because "the publisher probably didn't have big ambitions for it." Then I thought how many genre books are paperback originals. Then I got a little down.

2. Shelley - 09/27/2010 8:22 pm EDT

Since I have no back at all, either back sounds heavenly to me!

3. ChestertonianRambler - 09/29/2010 7:19 pm EDT

It's funny--my reading experience is guided by media, but I don't judge things.

Some books--particularly serious, slow reads meant to be savored (in and out of genre-fic), seem like they ought to be read in hardback. (I want, for instance, to own a hardback of Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind; I love the feel of the hardcover "red book" edition of The Lord of the Rings.) But some seem like they ought to be paperback. I get enormous delight out of Jim Butcher's private-eye-cum-detective, but will never own a Dresden Files book in paperback. Psychologically, I guess I feel that I wouldn't be able to turn the pages fast enough, or that some ghastly spirit would require me to analyze every passage for its subtle insights.

But then again, I have to wait an extra year to buy Jim Butcher in (trade) paperback. I guess that, with hardbacks making more money, it's hard for publishers to turn their backs on the allure of cloth- (or vinyl-) covered cardboard covers.

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