Thursday, March 23, 2006

Many Happy Returns?

According to a recent New York Times article, between one-half and three-quarters of the hardcover literary novels that mainstream houses sell to bookstores are returned to the publisher. Even the most prestigious houses, such as Random House, aren't exempt from the rule. Literary novels are a tough sell. They're tough to promote. And if that's the case for the best-known authors, can you imagine what it's like for unestablished (or even self-published or print-on-demand) novelists?

One way to solve the problem, according to the NYT's article, is to publish original trade paperback editions of literary novels. Trade paperback editions sell better than do hardcover novels because they're less expensive.

And yet ... will book reviewers even consider trade paperback editions as they wade through the stacks of worthy candidates? To be determined . . .