One question that's been bouncing around in my head - why publishers put out debut novels in hardcover.
I think profit margins are higher on hardcover, so I get that for the publisher they make more on lower volume, so yay for them. Isn't it hard on a debut author?
Hardcover price is a tough pill to swallow if you're trying out a new author for the first time, so it must make some buyers hesitate. And if sales are low, there might never be a paperback version. So the debut gets stuck with a track record of low sales.
Is there an upside to hardcover for the author that I'm missing?
Is it ever something that comes up in contract negotiations, trying to talk a publisher out of a hardcover print?
Any light you can shed on this would be really educational, I haven't seen it discussed.
Back in the day, hardcovers were just about the only format that generated reviews. And reviews drove sales.
Back in the day, libraries only bought hardcovers. And they bought a lot of books.
So, hardcover was a valid choice. Yes it was more expensive, but it was considered worthwhile.
Now things are very different.
Libraries are buying fewer books, Amazon discounts hardcovers so steeply it's hard for anyone to make money, and price-sensitive buyers are migrating to ebooks.
So yes, savvy agents are talking initial publication format during contract negotiations.
It's one of the things I talk to about editors even at the pitch stage.
Each book is different so there is no one right approach.
I should mention that I'm a total book snob. I confess it freely. I love hardcovers.