size isn't everything

I finally ‘birthed’ the baby…the newest largest edition of ‘book repair for booksellers’ now comes all the messy after birth parts like designing the cover, getting it to market and all that happy horseshit, like writing and rewriting the thing wasn’t bad enough. Now I wait for the proof copy to see all the mistakes that made it past myself and the editor. There is always SOMETHING that makes it into print, but at least with technology you can fix it and upload a new version.

I spent the day culling books as I am still on my how cleaning kick. I am getting impatient for true spring to make its way here, it is still too cold to turn off the heat and open the windows. When I moved to this apartment from a large house with a dedicated library, I traded down much of my personal collection. Books in the bedroom are ‘mine’ books outside of it are for sale. It’s easier for me to keep track that way. Every year or so, I have to cull the herd to make room or I’d have to start sleeping in the bathtub. Funny thing is that I am feeling less and less attached to more and more of my own books. Unless the book itself inspires a fond memory or tempts me to reread it, I am more than willing to chuck it into the sell or donate box.

This time it occured to me that some of my old mass market copies though economically worthless are quite rare and may well be worth keeping just to save space. When old fat novels like Follet’s Pillars of the Earth or Neville’s the Eight see reprinting these days they are the larger straight up trade paperbacks, in the service of a higher price tags. Because paper is cheap and printing is expensive, new books take up more space than old ones; the fatter the book the more profitable. Since back list titles sell very slowly, publishers want to get the biggest bang for the buck, hence make big fat books with big fat margins. When I moved I traded down on many of my backlist titles, my copies of Dracula and Tolkien are just paperbacks now, whereas before they were impressive looking hardbacks.

There is something about trade sized paperbacks I find immoral. If you really want to keep the book then it should be hardback, if you just want to read it and pass it along, than the mass market was the better bargain. Trade paperbacks with their inflated size and price just seem to accumulate, neither fish nor fowl. I am not overly fond of reading them, they certainly don’t fit in a pocket nor conveniently in a haversack, and don’t get me started on the price. Anyone who spends more than a $2 just to read Dracula or Tess of the D’urbervilles is getting ripped off. But that’s another story.

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