Tom Doherty,President and Publisher of Tor Books, talks about the business behind mass-market paperbacks:
Trade paper has never done better for us. It’s been growing steadily for years and it’s certainly nice to see two of our books on nationally respected trade paperback bestseller lists in any one week, but I am worried about mass market. So much of mass market is impulse and impulse is so important to the creation of new readers. The person buying a book from a wire revolving rack in a drugstore as he waits for a prescription, the person who buys a book from an attractive in-line display in a supermarket, in a shop in the hotel lobby, or at a newsstand in an airport or a train station is not necessarily a committed and regular reader. But numerous surveys have shown that if you please them often enough in impulse situations a meaningful number will be converted. These impulse sales are an important part of our outreach and we need to be sure there is a selection which will tempt that consumer. Nielsen surveys have shown science fiction and fantasy as high as 12.4% of fiction sales. If no science fiction is displayed a significant number of potential customers may not be tempted, the same is true of many other categories and in each case new readers will be lost.
[via Irene Gallo]