In the Age of E-books, Does the Cheap Paperback Have a Future?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


Today’s lead story discusses Penguin’s 75th anniversary campaign in Australia, New Zealand and India which has seen the company reissue backlist titles from their line at the low price of AU$9.95. The result has been sales that have exceeded more than 250,000 copies in their first three months — a phenomenal sales pace. The series has proved so popular that the company is issuing even more titles in this low cost format.

Obviously, this launch has been a success. That being said, it does raise the question of whether the same type of campaign would work in a market where the price of the paperback is undercut significantly by an e-book.

The answer would appear to be “yes.” Many of Penguin titles are available in public domain editions, which can be had for the low-low price of free. And customers seem interested in the nostalgic design of this re-issued series. Plus, paperbacks have a way of getting into non-traditional retailers, such as grocery stores, where they can be purchased as an impulse buy.

But what do you think? In the age of e-books, does the cheap paperback, indeed, have a future?

Tell us your thoughts on the matter in the comments below or via Twitter using hashtag #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.