I was browsing around the bookstore last night for some new reading material, and it struck me how much more fiction is being published in trade size vs. mass market size. Sure, your Stephen Kings and your Tom Clancys and your Danielle Steeles (or my guilty pleasure authore, Nelson DeMille) are all in mass market, but it seems all the more “serious” fiction like Russell Banks or Nick Hornby or Barbara Kingsolver or even Helen Fielding are all in trade size. The consequence is that you have to pay $4-5 more for them. (Not that I mind. Well, I do, but it isn’t killing me.)
Is it that these authors don’t sell as many copies on average, so they publish them in the larger format at the higher price? Might they not sell more at the lower price? And doesn’t the money that the publishing houses make from the authors that do sell ten bazillion copies of a title in mass market free up the resources so that they could publish these authors in mass market size? (I suspect that the answer lies partly in accounting methods similar to Hollywood’s Stupid Bookkeeping Tricks, that allow movies like Forrest Gump to still be in the red.)
Or maybe it’s that the mass market paperback is viewed by the publishing world as the outlet for, for lack of a better term, “lesser” fare, and award-winning authors like Banks or Annie Proulx are too esteemed for that format.
Uke, Eve, anyone else in the publishing world–what’s the Straight Dope here?