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Picador makes paperback move
05.11.07 | Katherine Rushton
Picador has unveiled plans to launch its new fiction in dual hardback and paperback editions, in a bid to combat the ailing market for hardback literary fiction. The move raises serious questions about the future of the hardback literary novel, which Picador publisher Andrew Kidd described as a "moribund format".
From spring 2008, "the majority" of new titles from the literary imprint of Pan Macmillan will be released in limited, high-end hardback editions and B-format paperback editions simultaneously.
Picador's initiative follows falling sales for literary hardbacks, and a disappointing response to efforts by all publishers to attract more buyers by changing the timing, pricing or presentation of the hardback launch.
"While it has never been the easiest end of the market, over the last few years publishers have witnessed sales reaching new lows," said publisher Andrew Kidd. "All of us find it depressing, and there are, frankly, no reasons to think the situation might soon reverse itself."
He added: "Many publishers, including Picador, have experimented with format, timing and price. But has this tinkering really worked? How often, in instances where a hardback is replaced by a trade paperback, or priced at £10, has it made a measurable difference to that book's fortunes? The answer is not nearly often enough, and so further questions are begged: when are we going to accept that we live in an A and B (now mostly B) format country; that only a tiny handful of authors command enough reader loyalty to achieve viable hardback sales; that by concentrating promotional energy on a moribund format we are doing no favours to the format people actually want to buy?"
The first book to be launched in simultaneous editions will be Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet Joanne Proulx on 4th April.