Bigger? Better? Well, See, Not Everyone Wants To Carry Huge Purses

February 17th, 2005 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

We can’t speak for all our readers, but when we go purse shopping, we evaluate based on the following criteria: wallet fits (big wallet, but that depends on mood and season), cell phone has a convenient slot (we have an unfortunate history with cars catching on fire), notebook space (this varies, depending on our mood), space for sundries, and room for at least one book. One never knows when one might have a few seconds to read.

Now, perhaps we’re a bit cynical or perhaps because we have a mother who reads the small print just fine or because we’re willing to admit to only slight lessening of visual acuity or maybe it’s our envy because today’s reading glasses are so darn cute, but we’re suspicious of the notion that catering to an older readership is behind a new, super-sized paperback format. Maybe it’s the $9.99 price tag. We don’t know.

So, anyway, there’s anecdotal evidence that fiction reading is down. And anecdotal evidence that readers are less likely to try new authors at full price. And hard evidence that used book sales are rising. It makes sense that a new format at a higher price is the first response of the industry.

Now, see, if we were the type to analyze things (and we’re not), we’d sit back and think. Sure, small print is an issue, but is moving to a larger book and higher price the only option? What about tiered pricing based on length…oh, oops, sorry, naive moment. Oh well, while we’re going crazy, we should suggest the obvious: it’s medium is not the message. In other words, it ain’t the size of the print.

We leave it to more analytical minds to solve this problem.

File Under: Square Pegs

2 responses so far ↓

  • Karen // Feb 18, 2005 at 8:44 am

    And there has to be a zippered inside pocket. Because the damn thing will dump, and some items are irreplaceable . . . I’ve never thought of tiered pricing based on length. But they do that a little bit already, don’t they? Some TPOs are $14, some $11. But is it the name of the author that makes the difference, or the length? Yet another imponderable.

  • booksquare // Feb 18, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    Yes, zippered interior compartment. For all the secret things that girls carry. Though…the husband acknowledged this week that men are about a year out from carrying purses. Far too much stuff to lug around, and far too few pockets big enough to lug it. Also, far too few women willing to carry double the weight in their purses.

    I think there is already tiered pricing in place for mass market paperbacks. I vaguely recall an author talking about how she reduced her word count because her publisher told her that the length she submitted would push her up to the next pricing tier.

    I think the author’s name does have a lot to do with it. Better known equals larger cover price. Apparently readers are suckers. I know I’ve been more aggressive about waiting for titles to be released in paperback. Once you make it through that first year of nothingness …the sacrifices we make when we decide we need a bigger house (and live in the greater LA area!).