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June 23, 2005

Fast, Cheap, and Getting Under Control?

by Ron Hogan

A few people have sent emails about Doug Seibold, the president of indy publisher Agate, and his public embrace of trade paperback originals (TPOs) in the Book Standard. "With so many new hardbacks sluicing into stores each week," he observes, "there's intense pressure to keep them moving across the new-release tables. Even books with good placement and strong advance-order presence in stores will get pushed off the tables fairly quickly if they don't sell in significant numbers." Once they're off the table, books are a hair's breadth from being returned, hardcovers quicker than paperbacks, and while the majors might be able to lose that gamble repeatedly, "for a company like mine, with a program built on developing authors' careers, building backlist, and ensuring every book gets a chance to do as well as it can, that kind of bravura just doesn't work." Based on the "qualified success" of his first TPO, Andrew Winston's Looped*, Seibold believes he's found a safer path. A Big Five insider who chatted with me about the article over drinks last night totally agreed, expressing the desire to pursue a similar approach within a conglomerate setting, and Booksquare has some thoughtful comments on the subject from the consumer's perspective, following up on previous musings, while Sarah Weinman made her feelings known months ago.

*As it happens, I'm currently corresponding with Winston for a potential Author2Author in July, an idea which I first discussed with Seibold at BookExpo (after, that is, he'd sent the book my way). .
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