The Paperback Reprint Dilemma

the portrait Liss buys at auction (actually a copy of a famous one)

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here to talk about one of those problems that’s nice to have . . . but which is still a problem. I’m talking about what happens when the paperback reprint of a book that originally came out in hardcover is published.

This is a good thing. Many readers are reluctant to plunk down $25 or more for a hardcover book just so they can read it when it first comes out. Even the e-book edition is more expensive at this stage, although the price does come down by the time the paperback is published. Audiobooks are great, but they aren’t cheap. That leaves two choices—borrow the book from the library or wait for the paperback reprint, which is less expensive. If it’s a mass market paperback, it usually sells for around $7.99. If it is reprinted in the larger “trade” size, the price averages about $15.

For writers with series published as paperback originals, there is one print version of each title. They focus their publicity efforts on that publication date and then move on to writing and publicizing the next book in the series. For those of us published in hardcover first, we’ve already done the publicity thing once. Now we have a new edition, but not a new book. And there is a new book due out in a month or so. Reinvent the wheel? Or focus on the real new book?

As you may have guessed, the paperback reprint of the eleventh Liss MacCrimmon mystery, X Marks the Scot, just came out. I’m delighted it’s available, but the places where I might write guest blogs, and the ads my publisher is putting out, are all focused on the twelfth book in the series, Overkilt, which will be in stores in hardcover at the end of this month. You know those “buy three Kensington paperbacks and get one free” offers? They all focus on paperback originals. I’m happy for those authors, but not so thrilled for my poor forgotten babies.

Aside from blogs like this one, and promotions on Facebook, I’m not sure what else I could or should be doing to let people know about the paperback. To make it more difficult from my point of view, most of my energy these days is actually focused on writing the thirteenth book in the series, A View to a Kilt, which is due on my editor’s desk on the first of December.

Bala checks out my box of author copies

I’d be interested to hear how other writers handle the appearance of the paperback reprint. And what readers think of the nearly year-long wait for a less expensive edition of books they want to read. And whether readers think a trade-sized paperback is enough of a bargain to be worth the wait. I’m particularly interested in the answer to that last question. The Mistress Jaffrey mysteries I wrote as Kathy Lynn Emerson only came out in hardcover, e-book, large print, and trade paperback. Now the Deadly Edits series, although it’s also from Kensington and also written as Kaitlyn Dunnett, will also be reprinted in trade paperback rather than mass market size. That edition of Crime & Punctuation will be available at the end of May 2019 with Clause & Effect to follow shortly thereafter in hardcover.

Comment, please. Inquiring minds want to know. And there is a paperback copy of X Marks the Scot in it for one lucky commenter.

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of nearly sixty traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (Overkilt—November 2018) and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. Her most recent collection of short stories is Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are and and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at

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14 Responses to The Paperback Reprint Dilemma

  1. Rosemary Leveille says:

    I prefer a trade size paperback. Don’t buy many books now that I have a Kindle, but when I do, look for that size. Easier to hold and read easily with 60+ hands., LOVE your books.

    Sent from my iPad


    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Thanks for your input, Rosemary. I hadn’t thought so much about the size of the book as the size of the print. That’s also easier to read in trade paperback. I’m so glad you enjoy my books. When I’m writing them I never have any idea how they will be received, so it’s always encouraging to hear I got it right.

  2. Tina Swift says:

    “Just in time for the holidays! A bundle of three paperbacks makes a wonderful gift for holidays or recovering friends.” (I’m a library or Kindle person — gotta watch my pennies.)

  3. Liz Milliron says:

    I have to say, not a fan of waiting a year for the paperback. I’m one of those people who can’t afford to plunk down the money for a hardback (nor do I have the shelf space), so I really only buy those from my uber-favorite authors. Yet for authors I enjoy – and can’t afford the hardback – waiting a year is sometimes excruciating.

    And I like the trade paper over mass market. To me they are easy to hold and look better on a shelf when I’m done with them.

  4. Sally Fortney says:

    I won’t pay more than $7.99 for a book unless I just can’t get it at the library or on my Nook. I hate the trade paperbacks even thought the size is easier to read but not as easy to stick in my purse. I don’t mind waiting if I know they will come out in the small paperback size. I’m not cheap, I just read way too many books to pay the higher price.

  5. Monica says:

    Personally, I like the trade paperback size and feel. Most of the time the covers are nicely done, too. I usually wait for my favorite series to come out in this format. If the writer only has hardcovers I try to convince the library to carry that series. (Or, I haunt the library book sales!)

  6. Julianne Spreng says:

    Even though they are much more expensive, I prefer hardback. They will last longer, although I have to say the large paperback copies are fairly durable. Learn something new every day. I didn’t know they were called trade paperbacks. The larger size does make it easier to read and handle, and you can’t lose a dust jacket! I always have a capacious shoulder bag to hold reading material, so the over size isn’t a problem. Kudos on the tremendous variety of series you’ve created. I’m enjoying them all.

  7. While not a writer, I can add something about how to promote the trade paperback.
    Unfortunately, it comes down to the writer’s own efforts.
    Having your own website/blog, email lists, and social media program are the best ways to ensure that you can control your message.
    Also, these efforts need to be continual and not just when a new book or edition launch.
    Publishers have their own interests and I have to say that for may writers, these don’t always align with theirs. (You’d think they would because strong book sales are good for everyone!)
    Remember too that your earlier books represent an opportunity to create an ongoing revenue stream for yourself.
    I’d be happy to answer any questions on this topic for any who have them.
    Finally, I hate to admit it, but I’ve gone over to ebooks (I use a Nook primarily) because of the convenience, cost, and the fact that I’ve run out of shelf space.

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