Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Which I Buy a Book Out of Spite

Do you remember this post?

In it, I complain lots about how publishers seem to think it's cool to compare any and all books for a certain audience, such as teens, with the most popular book for that audience at the time. For example, right now, every publisher wants "the next Twilight" so badly that they are comparing perfectly good books, some even are really excellent, with Twilight because they think a book will sell better if it's Twilight-esque.

For example, look at this:

This is the hardcover edition of If I Stay by Gayle Forman, a book I love.

If I Stay is awesome. It has starred reviews from journals I didn't even think gave starred reviews. Or good reviews. Or even mediocre reviews.

But you've heard me rant about how much I love this book. Now let me show you what I hate.

The Paperback Edition!

See it? Right there in the upper corner? It says, "Will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight--U.S.A. Today"

First off: What the heck does U.S.A. Today know about books? I don't even think they know anything about NEWS!

Secondly: If by fans of Twilight they mean teens who love to read, yes. U.S.A. Today is right about that. But if U.S.A. Today intends to recommend If I Stay to fans of paranormal romance, they are dead wrong. Not because I don't think fans of Twilight will like If I Stay. They will. However, if you show that book to someone who reads Twilight knock-offs alone, they won't be interested unless the word "Vampire" or "Werewolf" is mentioned prominently on the back cover. I know. I've tried it.

But I'm not going to keep going with this rant, because you've heard it before. I am, however, going to tell you a funny-ish story about your Friendly Neighborhood Literature Junkie and her Trip to Walmart.

I knew all of what I just told you that day, when I walked into Walmart for pet food and milk. I knew.

I'd seen the paperback edition online and read the quote from U.S.A. Today I just complained about.

But I hadn't seen it in person...

And as we all know, my reaction to certain books can be rather violent, sometimes inappropriate (ranting at Barnes and Nobles to all who could hear me, bursting into tears at Culvers...), and at the very least, passionate.

When I walked through the book section in Walmart, it was in hope of finding an issue of Cook's Illustrated, so Christopher Kimball could tell me how to best roast a chicken or grill beef or something. I love America's Test Kitchen. They're amazing.

I had, though, just gone through the articles I quoted in my previous post, so when I walked through the YA row (they don't really have much aside from Twilight), If I Stay caught my eye.

I was alone at Walmart. I'd just come straight from work, I was driving home, and I never intended to cross paths with the paperback edition.

I could feel the vein in my temple begin to throb. My eye may have started to tic, Pink Panther-style. I clenched my fists.

Here was a beautiful, nay, a flawless novel, and the publisher was trying to pass it off as Twilight! The publisher should be thanking their lucky stars that the book was so much better than Twilight! And the only reason they weren't was that--they wanted to MAKE TONS OF MONEY OFF A FRANCHISE!

This was when I noted the hardcover edition set off to the side.

It was right there. Perfect.

Sure, I thought the sky blue cover and the little flower could have been improved. It didn't really connect with the story or the major themes, but still...it was leaps and bounds better than the paperback. So much better, in fact, that I felt that it ought to sell.

This is when I explain a little:

Publishers make money. It's what they do. That's why they exist.

And they want to make more money, so they track how their money is made. It gets broken down.

They have their hardcover sales. Trade paperback sales. Mass market sales. And now, e-book sales. Then, if one is lucky, there is money from movie rights, franchising, and so forth. But usually, that doesn't come into it.

Publishers usually make the most money from mass market--or from the paperback edition(s).

So as I stood there in Walmart, a little spark came from the depths of my brain. The spark said: "If you buy this book, the publisher will see that the hardcover is preferred to the paperback! Because the paperback has been released already. And they still have hardcover sales!"

There might not have been any logic to that...

But it worked.

The next minute, I was walking out of Walmart with the hardcover edition of If I Stay. This would be to go along with the Kindle edition of the novel, which I had before.

I honestly thought buying that book would be like screaming, "IN YOUR FACE!" to the publishers...And I wasn't even taking any prescription medications to explain the compulsion. Nope. That's straight Laura.

I think I need a sweet tea.


  1. (Very bad news)Part of a review from amazon.com:
    "1.0 out of 5 stars NOT recommended for Twilighters. In all honesty, I picked this book because of the glowing reviews it received and the fact that the cover states that it will appeal to fans of Twilight." It seems that the Twilight link may just back-fire. Readers should buy the book on its own merits!

    I found your post very moving and it made me want to read the book.

  2. That's exactly what worries me. Paranormal Romance Junkies will pick this up (maybe) and hate it--but the people who would love it avoid it because they hate/are sick of Twilight!

    The Twilight Tension Headache is back again...Now where did I put the Tylenol...