Downsizing the books.

I agree completely with the recent post at The Millions about bringing back the little guys.  Considering the cottage industry of books about classic Penguin covers, there’s bound to be interest in a pocket-sized series of books, with some continuity in cover design, that you can get at $10 a pop.

The whole article’s here, and worth a read.  I’m excerpting the following, because I want to spotlight this move by HarperPerennial toward making good fiction inexpensive:

covercovercoverBut perhaps the pendulum will swing back towards pocket editions again. HarperPerennial recently introduced the Olive Editions collection. According to the marketing material, “they fit in your back pocket and only cost ten bucks each.” (And eight bucks on Amazon). So far the line includes three titles, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, and Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. At 7 inches by 4 1/2 inches, they are a touch larger than the pocket paperbacks you see in used bookstores, and while their cover design is smart looking, they are not as inviting as the pulpy art that used to emblazon even the classics. Nonetheless, they represent a smart move by HarperCollins, and one hopes that they will announce more titles in this format and that other publishers will follow suit.

I have yet to see the insides of these books, so can’t speak to the quality of the paper, the print, etc. but am curious to know more.  Hard to argue with $10.


2 Replies to “Downsizing the books.”

  1. I have “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” one. It’s about one step up from your standard mass-market paperback. I suppose it’s worth the ten bucks, especially if you’re on a budget, but the covers are tacky-looking, if you ask me. I don’t understand what all the hype is, though. I just wish publishers would release more literary fiction in mass-market editions, instead of your usual trade paperback. They seem to only do that when there’s a movie involved (The Road, Atonement).

    I think literary fiction’s unpopularity, as it were, stems from the fact that it’s always more expensive than, say, a Patterson paperback. Say what you will about popular fiction, but you can’t argue with the fact that it gives people more book for their buck.

  2. Yeah, but if you want a cheap version of those books, a used copy is readily available. Those books are ancient. What they need is NEW books in cheap editions.

    I work at a bookstore and always feel a little faint when a customer puts two little hardcovers on the desk and the total is over $50. Come on, that’s not right!

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