At some point in her literary journey, every reader has to confront the ‘big’ question:
Hardback vs Softback?
For me, it’s kind of a no-brainer. I’m an expat, living in a small house on a small island, so space is very limited.
At some point I’ll have to pack up all my stuff and move on, the last thing I want are cumbersome books adding to my freight fees.
I assumed that everyone felt this way. After all, hardbacks aren’t just weighty, they’re also more expensive.
But not so.
According to market analyst firm Nielson, hardbacks account for 20% of fiction sales (bringing in roughly £70m a year).
They may seem redundant (especially in the age of the Kindle) but hardbacks have a following.
Sometimes it’s a prestige thing.
Printing a book in hard cover signals to the world that it’s to be taken seriously – the rationale being that no publisher would fork out for a pricey print run if they didn’t believe in the product.
Hardbacks may be more expensive to print, but they’re also a bigger money-maker.
Publishers pass on that extra printing cost, and a bit more, to the consumer – meaning that their margins on hardbacks are much better than on paperbacks.
Hardbacks take up more space. This is a good thing if you want a book noticed.
Publishers like hardbacks that go on displays and crowd out the competition. Readers like hardbacks that look good on bookshelves.
When the Kindle was introduced I thought the era of the book was over.
I was wrong.
I also thought hardback books would be a thing of the past.
I was wrong about that too (seeing a pattern here? never ask me for publishing predictions).
Last year, hardback fiction sales increased by 11%.
Someone’s buying them, just not me.