Bummer—or not?

I just found out this week that one of the books I wrote for a ghostwriting client will not be issued in paperback. The publisher, a Big 5, just didn’t think the hardcover and e-book sales were good enough to warrant a paperback release.

I was bummed, but the client is taking it better than I am. You’d think that after the publisher paid six figures for this book that the least they could do is spring for a paperback. Everyone knows paperbacks sell better than hardcovers, right? And shouldn’t every book have the chance to reach its audience at the best possible price?

But I’m ignorant. This is not how a publisher thinks these days.

The agent brought me up to speed:

Since the hardcover sold so poorly, no bookstore that checks the title’s Bookscan numbers will want to carry the paperback in the store. The book’s just doomed from the start. BUT…yeah, many books do tend to find their audiences after a while, and maybe this one will. Potential readers will have two species to draw from—the high-priced hardcover or the cheap e-book. The e-book’s cheaper than than the paperback would be, anyway. And, added the agent, both Author and Writer should content themselves with this state of affairs because we will continue to earn the higher, hardcover royalty. (Typically, publishers pay 10% on hardcovers, 7% on paper, so when Authors transition from hardcover to paper, they’re taking a cut in pay in the hopes of greater volume.)

So yay for us.


What do you think?