Publishing news. Picador has decided to scrap the traditional first-hardback-then-paperback process for literary fiction and to bring out almost all its novels in paperback editions from the outset, producing only a limited run of luxury hardbacks for collectors. The first novel to appear in this format will be Sputnik Caledonia by Andrew Crumey. You can read more about why this move has been made on the Picador blog.
As a reader, I’m convinced that this decision makes sense. Most of my reading these days is done on trains or planes or buses, or in bed, and hardbacks are simply inconvenient. They won’t slide into pockets or side-by-side in bags, they weigh too much. Some of them don’t even fit comfortably on shelves (at least not on those of the bookcases I’ve had made to hold my extensive collection of paperback novels). Nobody really wants them. Their only advantage is that you can use the jacket flap to mark your place. Even that awful commercial compromise, the ‘special airport edition’, is unwieldy and unlovable.
So why am I slightly anxious about the move? Because my own, my very own Little Monsters will be the last (or last-but-one) novel ever to be published by Picador in the traditional way, first in hardback, and then in paperback. This might make it highly collectable in years to come, regardless of its immense literary merit (although I doubt this), but I’m worried that it might also make it feel a little bit like yesterday’s loaf from the word go. It also means I’ll have to wait months and months for the paperback, which, as Crumey says, is the edition the author’s friends – and everyone else – actually want to buy. Hmm.
There is only one way to make me feel better about this. Scroll up and down the sidebar until you see a little box with the cover of Little Monsters inside it and the magic words Buy from Amazon. Click. You will be rewarded in heaven.