Well, children, gather round and let me spin you a tale of how life works: my back USED to be hard and muscly, but now its soft and feels like it’s about to give out at any momen—–wait… is this about why publishers print hardcover books before printing paperback books? I suppose. But I think my innumerable age-related aches and pains are far more interesting. Suit yourself.
“While a hardcover book is more expensive to print than a paperback, the publisher does traditionally make more money on that edition, allowing them to earn back the author’s advance and the costs they incurred for printing, shipping, marketing, and distribution,” Dinah Dunn, a partner at the book packager Indelible Editions, tells Mental Floss.
Hardcovers may be more expensive to produce than paperbacks, but they still cost just a few dollars to print. Publishers can then sell them for upwards of $30 and rake in enormous profits.
Cheaper paperbacks are more popular with consumers, accounting for roughly 80 percent of all print book sales, but when a book is still new, sellers can count on certain readers to pay more for the hardback. “An author’s fans are willing to pay the higher price in order to get the book when it is first published,” Dunn says.