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Publishing mass-market paperbacks vs. Trade

Crumbly Writer

For those of you who are publishing, has anyone tried publishing the standard mass-market paperback size (5"x7" or smaller) instead of the larger (and more expensive) Trade paperback size (6"x9")? If so, did it produce any savings and/or increased/decreased sales?

Printing in the alternate sizes limits you from the 'distribution channels' (on createspace, at least), but the only books I sell are by hand, so the channels aren't particularly meaningful to me.

Also, on a separate note, what kind of luck have any of you had with hawking your books to local bookstores? Is this a useful technique, or generally not terribly useful?

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

CW,

I print all my books in US Trade of 6 x 9 inches because, overall, it's cheaper than the 5 x 7 inch or A5 formats. Yes, the per page cost is a bit more, but you have to go with the total cost based on the number of pages in the book and the 6 x 9 holds a lot more words per page - about 15 more lines per page. That means less pages to be printed and glued together and a lower overall costs. Especially if you write to the page size in the first place, the way I do.

typo edit

richardshagrin
Updated:

As a very occasional book buyer, the standard paperback tends to be just under $10. The Trade paperback is usually just under $16. Being cheap and on a budget, when I have to buy something at full price I go for the $9.99 size. More often I will go to a used book store and pay about half the new book price for the small paperback. I did get a bunch (six is a bunch) of Bernard Cornwell's Napoleonic era Rifleman Sharpe novels last week for $1.50 each originally $14.99 (Trade size) marked down intermediately to $5.98. I may have a few of them in hardback, but I couldn't pass up the deal.

It was at University (of Washington) Book Store, not the one near the campus but a branch well north of Seattle. They still had plenty left. Rather than rip the covers off and turn them back to the publisher (Harper) they put them on sale at real clearance pricing. It pays to nose around your local new/used bookstore and see what you can get. Sometimes they have books you would be willing to read for as low as $1.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

It was at University (of Washington) Book Store, not the one near the campus but a branch well north of Seattle. They still had plenty left. Rather than rip the covers off and turn them back to the publisher (Harper) they put them on sale at real clearance pricing. It pays to nose around your local new/used bookstore and see what you can get. Sometimes they have books you would be willing to read for as low as $1.

In Manhattan (being a very literary town), there were always multiple street vendors hawking recent best sellers for $1. Again, book stores sold them off instead of returning them. Unfortunately, that means the author get zip for every one of those books sold! Still, it's hard to turn down a deal like that, especially given how much I used to read (I'd read walking to the subway, on the bus, at lunch, sitting on park benches, you name it).

For an author, who has no vote on the matter, it's like library books. Readers get them for free (or low cost), but the author gets his payment via word of mouth and personal recommendations (hopefully). Of course, for the vendors and booksellers who originally supplied them, it's as illegal as hell! (You'd really think the Devil would get all his paperwork in order before opening shop.)

Getting back to print formats, Print-on-Demand (PoD) books are generally higher quality and produced in lower volumes, while mass-market paperbacks are printed in volume, and get a substantially discounted rate. But I was just curious how much more expensive printing in 5x7 would cost.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Richard,

First, there's a difference between buying a book printed by a publishing house and sold through shops and a book available from an indie author provided through a print on demand (PoD) service like Lulu.

Second, the common sizes for paperback books are:

US Trade 6 x 9 inch

Digest 5.5 x 8.5 inch

Pocketbook 4.25 x 6.88 inch

All costs $2.45 per 100 pages (2.45 cents per page) to print at Lulu. And all books have to be rounded to the nearest multiple of 4 pages for proper printing.

My novel Will to Survive is 63,563 words and is:

6 x 9 inch format = 174 pages round to 176 for $4.32

5.5 x 8.5 inch format = 230 pages round to 232 for $5.69

4.25 x 6.88 inch format = 392 pages for $9.60

5 x 7 inch format = 319 pages round to 320 for $7.84

You then have to add on to this your royalty and Lulu's margin. I sell all my single novels as US$9.95 each

It's cheaper to print and sell the books via a PoD as 6 x 9 inch than the other formats.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Finally tried taking my latest book to the neighborhood book store (the only one that has a dedicated "Local Artists" section). Turns out they won't accept any CreateSpace books since they're owned by Amazon (fallout from Amazon's war on Independent booksellers).

I could switch to lulu since I've published there in the past, but I'd have to relearn how to format for them. What's more, since I don't write "beach books", it's not likely to cater to the local crowd, and the bookstore wouldn't accept it anyway. (Why feature a local artists book about lesbian detectives in Manhattan? Or one about space aliens? There's no local interest tie-in.)

Oh well, so much for that idea. They run the only 2 local author friendly bookstores in the region. The others simply aren't interested in accepting books from individuals. It's too bad, since they offer a 60/40 split and purchase directly from the author, meaning I'd get a decent percentage of the sale.

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