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Tom Doherty Talks about Mass-Market Paperbacks

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]

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

4 Comments on Tom Doherty Talks about Mass-Market Paperbacks

  1. Hey Tom!

    I’m no expert and I’m not Neilsen but it seems to me why sales of SF/F mmp books should not be as high as they could be is because of the broken trilogies in bookstore shelves. We need more stand alone novels. Just off the top of my head I’d say about 80% of book store shelves contain broken trilogies. The rest are SF/F sub genres that don’t interest me. It’s hard to be an impulse SF book shopper when all you see is part 3 of the Yada yada Wars by Tom P What’s his name. It’s rare I’m able to find a complete stand alone book on the shelves. Everything I buy now are either anthologies and or special order. Another hint, get the book from Hardcover to mmp out faster. A one year turna round time is nuts. More stand a lone books please.

    Hello? Am I the only mmp book shopper that’s experiencing this? So much for impulsive buying.

  2. No, I don’t have that problem, but I buy most of my books on Amazon. But I agree with you none the less. I’d like to see more stand alone books. If only for the time commitment involved. Most trilogies/series, esp. in Fantasy, feel padded out for length.

  3. I am a fan of the stand alone book as well although I don’t mind trilogies as long as they are just that. I hate the waiting game for long, seemingly never-ending series.

    I’m glad MMPB are a way to get people in to reading, but I’m just not a fan of them myself. I’d much rather pick up a hardback or a trade paperback.

  4. Ahhh John Steakley’s ‘Armor’ is “on top” in the pic just like it should be. Now if only John would read the damn thing….. its a fun ride while it lasts.

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