Doubly effective

<p>In my book retail days I would often get asked for my take on The Great Hardback Fiction Question. That question would be phrased in many different ways but was always essentially the same: how do we sell more?</p>
<p>My answer was also essentially the same&mdash;you can't. So why not embrace that fact?<a href=""> I applaud the announcement from Picador that it is moving to simultaneous hardback and paperback publication for much of its new fiction.</a> It is a bold and brave move and I am convinced that many other publishers will follow suit.</p>
<p>(At this point I must blatantly abuse my position as columnist by pointing out that a week before Picador's news The Friday Project announced a similar initiative. Starting in December of this year much of our new fiction will be published as limited edition signed and numbered hardbacks. Unlike Picador, the paperback versions will follow a few months later.)</p>
<p>What fascinated me was the varied reaction to the news (Picador's, not ours). <a href=" seem worried that it would lead to hardbacks being sidelined.</a> I would argue that customers sidelined hardback fiction some time ago.</p>
<p>The real surprise though was the response from the newspaper literary editors. Some were delighted that they would now be able to review hardbacks at the same time as the paperbacks were available for their readers to buy. Forgive me, but is there some law that says it is illegal to give a new paperback review the same prominence as a hardback?&nbsp; Surely the coverage a book receives and the space it is allocated should be based on the content, not the binding?</p>
<p>Despite resistance from all sectors of our industry, the book market is changing. Readers want to read more and if they are going to increase the amount of books they buy they are almost certainly going to do that in the cheaper paperback formats. Consumers will read literary fiction if we present it to them in a way they find attractive and enticing. Once an author has built a sufficient following then they probably can justify the move to hardback, but not before. Why pay &pound;16.99 for a novel by someone you've never heard of when you could buy three or four paperbacks for the same price? Well, you might do if it were exciting, interesting and&nbsp; collectable.</p>
<p>The fiction hardback is not dead.&nbsp; Neither is it on its last legs. It is just a part of the book world that needs an injection of innovation and imagination. Picador's new venture has done just that.</p>