A few of you have already purchased my June release, Before the Storm, and at least a couple of you have asked why it’s in trade (large-size) paperback instead of hardcover, so I thought I’d try to answer that question here. The first thing you need to know is that this decision is nearly always up to the publisher and not the author. The second thing you need to know is that, when a decision is up to the publisher, it’s about business rather than aesthetics or status. So, why would a publisher opt to put a book out in trade rather than hardcover–or for that matter, mass market paperback, the size and type we’re most used to seeing in the grocery store racks?
Publishing is an ever-evolving field and what’s true today wasn’t true five years ago and won’t be true five years from now. But here is today’s truth: more and more so-called literary fiction is being published in trade format, especially when a publisher is trying to build a writer’s audience (and yes, after seventeen books, I’m still working on building my readership). That’s because readers are more willing to try an author they’ve never heard of in paperback than in hardcover for an obvious reason: price. Another reason is that many readers (and I’d love you to weigh in on this) prefer trade paperbacks because they’re easier to hold and carry than hardcover, and easier to hold and read than mass market paperbacks. In general, you can expect the paper quality and design to be superior to that used for mass market books. Also in general, you can expect the stories to be more “character-driven” (literary) than “plot-driven” (commercial), although if you’ve read my books, you know it’s a pretty blurry line between those two categories.
I like being published in trade original, because I’m one of those people who prefers the size and feel of trade paperbacks. But I know many of you adore hardcover books and have collected most of my books in that format. I’m so sorry if this change disappoints you, but hope it won’t keep you from enjoying the story.
The New York Times has recently broken its paperback best seller list into Trade and Mass-Market, so the change is here to stay, at least for a while. If you want a more in-depth look at the factors that go into a publisher’s decision to choose one format over another, you can read this NYTimes article from 2006. But I’d much rather you spend your reading time enjoying a good book, no matter what shape or size in comes in!