Friday, January 11, 2013

50 Shades of Grey to be Published in Hardcover -- Why We Care

Picture from EL James's website
Yup, here it is! 50 Shades of... cardboard, now (or whatever hardcovers are made of). It will be released on January 29th, "in time for Valentine's day".... I can't even imagine.


There is an interesting article about this publication and its effects on publishing.

Basically, this publication is a reversal of the standard. Usually, first comes the hardcover, and then the paperback. According to the article, the reasoning behind the paper-back first decision was that the series was originally self-published by a very small publisher. Random House (who bought the rights and mass-marketed the books) didn't feel people would buy an expensive hardcover if they had bought the ebooks and print-on-demand books.

Long story short, due to the self-publication, the series was published first in paperback, and then in hardcover.

Why do we care?

Because, according to the article, this might set a new standard in publishing.

Romance, a popular genre on Amazon, has many, many ebooks -- maybe, some of them will go on to be published by a major house. Due to the standard EL James has created, ebooks might get extra attention.

The publishing houses can first publish the book in paperback (to lessen expenses), and if the books are crazy popular, they can publish them in hardcover. This might apply to other genres as well and other novels that become "popular as ebooks and are then bought by traditional publishers."

This might create a new process of purchase in publishing (how about all them p's?).

All I just said was basically a summary of the article (but the article has more details on the features of the hardcover, the story behind 50 Shades's publishing journey, and more).

What I want to know is whether this will open the doors for ebooks, or close them . Will ebooks be more accepted if traditional publishers have a way to make profits off of them? Will ebooks lose the stigma they have?

These are all questions to ponder.

2012 was a major year for publishing history (the consolidation of the Big 6 publishers to the Big 5, 50 Shades of Grey, etc). It looks like 2013 is gearing up to be the same (and two weeks haven't even passed ).

At the end, we know one thing: after January 29th, 50 Shades will dominate the hardcover fiction bestseller list on Amazon, pushing JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy even further back :( Sigh.

What do you think about this?


  1. Interesting switch.
    When I was purchasing physical books, it was always the hardback so it would look nice on the bookshelf. Of course, now I only purchase eBooks.

  2. I still prefer physical books... but I don't care if they're hardback or paper... but this is all very fascinating, SC. Such an interesting business!

  3. Just goes to show that all the rules are being broken.

    I purchase ebooks now because they are cheaper, but I do make exceptions for my favorite authors.

  4. Wow, this is very interesting. Hardcover last longer and makes more sense for libraries and such. But this model could be a way to keep costs down and get more books out there. It will be interesting to see what happens in publishing in 2013.

  5. I've seen situations where an author's early books were released in paperback, but as her popularity increase, her later books were first released as hardbacks.

    And I know some ebook publishers are printing the books in paperback that become bestsellers.

    This is the first I've heard of them going from ebook to hardback. Hmmm. Interesting.

  6. I'll admit I don't buy many books. But to me, the strategy really makes sense. As I understand it, way back the publishers first put out the hardcover because they wanted you to spend big bucks to buy it right away. Then paperbacks mopped up the rest.

    e-books do turn the equation upside down. A publisher can release an e-book (which costs next to nothing) and sell it for a discount, if they choose. If sales take off, next comes the cheaper paperback. And if sales REALLY take off, then the (I would assume) higher profit margin hard covers.

  7. Great post!

    Le sigh. I feel your pain about the Best Sellers List. However, the success of this particular series is important because it proves that nothing in publishing is predictable.

    Glad I found your blog! Good luck with your own writing.

  8. Just when I thought it would be an HP-free entry. lol