Monday, August 21, 2006

In 1492, Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue. But What Happened In 1491?

I wasn't able to place a feature on "1491," the nonfiction book about life in America right before Columbus popped in to say hello. A pity, since the book broke out to be a solid bestseller, selling 175,000 copies. Now Vintage expects to do even better with the paperback, but you know how I hate this: it's being sold at $15. Sure, the hardcover was $30, but sales on best-selling hardcovers easily meant people paid $20-$22 for it. So in fact, the paperback won't be that much less (and for much of its life it WON'T be discounted.) This is exactly the sort of book they would never put out in mass paperback for say $8 -- it's "literary," intelligent, upscale and publishers insist people really want a bulky expensive trade paperback for books like this. Another stupid comment from the publisher? "It did do exceedingly well in hardcover, which certainly never hurts the paperback print run, but the push for 1491 can also be credited to its genre. Books like this... have a sizable and built-in audience in paperback." There's a sizable audience of people who want to read non-fiction history books in paperback? Huh? As opposed to people who only want to read mysteries in hardcover or people who only want to read romance novels online? That makes no sense whatsover.

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