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Essay The Life Cycle Of A Book

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Have you ever tried to track down a particular book and had as much success as trying to find a butterfly in December? The reasons for your frustration may be the same for both book and butterfly; you are looking in the wrong season. LJke animáis, books have a fairly welldefined life cycle. Understanding the progression of stages can make rt easier to look in the right places as a book matures. A book's first appearance in bound form is the PREPUBUCATION COPY. This is not offered for sale, but is sent to reviewers and some booksellers as a preview. Printed in limited quantities, these often find their way to the collector's market in used bookstores. Many books are published first in a HARD COVER EDITION. The pages are sewn together and glued into board covers, and the boards may be covered in leather, cloth or colored paper. Sometimes a limited number of specially bound UMITED EDITION copies are made for collectors, while a larger number are less expensively bound for sale to the general public as the TRADE EDmON. Hard cover books are expensive. To promote their sale, publishers typically wil) not allow a paperbound edrtiontobe produced untilthe hard cover has had ayear ormore of exclusive sale. At this time the remaining hard cover copies are sold as a single lot (as high as 250,000 copies) and are called REMAINDERS. If the publisher feels there will beacontinuing marketforsome hard cover sales he may sell off only a part of nis remaining inventory, the OVERSTOCK. Remainders and overstocks are sold to wholesalers whothenresell them in smaller quantities to booksellers. They are discounted so sharply that they retail at a small fraction of their original price. Because the wholesalers buy from many different publishers, it is difficult to track a book at this stage. Books from a given publisher may be carried bydozensofwholesalers, and eachwholesalermay have books from hundreds of publishers. PAPERBOUND EDITIONS are less expensive than hard covers because they are less durable (therefore cheaper to prod uce) and because most of the ad vertisi ng and promotion has already been done for the original edition. MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS, the familiar four-by-seven inch "pocket book," are the cheapest version and are given the widest distribution. They remain available (in print) as long as there is sufficient demand and then are destroyed. They are not remaindered because discounting their already low list price does not allow enough profit margin for wholesalers or retailers. QUAUTY PAPERBACKS come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. They are printed on betterquality paper than mass market paperbacks, so they can includeillustrations and the type is clearer and easierto read. This allows many books that are not suitable for mass market production to be released in affordable paperbound editions. As the name implies, quality paperbacks are more expensive than their mass market counterparts. The higher costs of paper, binding and irregular formats are passed on to the readerintheformofahigherlistprice.Thisalsomeansthey can be sold as discounted remainders. Books are durable. They are not consumed as they are read, so they can be bought, read, and then passed on to someone else as USED BOOKS. Some titles are "used" before they are published (prepublication copies), but the term alsoapplies to books out of print (no longer produced) for decades, and to everything in between. It would seem that "used" must be the final phase in a book's Irfe cycle, but some do have one more stage of metamorphosis. If the demand for a title rekindles after if has been deleted fnom a publisher's list, then the righttoREPRINT ispunchasedand a new edition is produced. Reprints often have coarser paper, weaker bindings and, since demand s already present require little promotion. Many bookstoresspecialize in only a few phasesofabook's life cycle. Some focus on the newest, best selling hard covers. ers take pride in their backlist of quality and mass market paperbacks. Ttiere are stores that sell only remainders, overstocks and reprints, while used bookstores feature "pre-read" copies. Occasionally stores concéntrate on a subject and carry all phases of books n that area, such as mysteries or science. Steve Kelly is manager of After words book store.


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