"B&N had been committed to making uniquely bad calls"
March 24, 2020 9:47 AM Subscribe
Smorgasbords Don't Have Bottoms - on book publishing in the 2010s
No one wakes up in the morning hoping to be as vapid as possible. But eventually you internalize the squeeze. Everyone down the chain adjusts their individual decisions to the whim of the retailer, or to their best guess at the whim of the retailer. If it’s Barnes & Noble, you may hear that a cover doesn’t work, that the store won’t carry the title unless you change it. If it’s Amazon, you may not hear anything at all. You go back and adjust your list of wildly optimistic comparative titles — it’s The Big Short, but . . . for meteorology! But is anyone still talking about The Big Short? Maybe it’s Hillbilly Elegy, but for meteorology. You change the cover, of course. Every cover has handwriting on it, so yours should, too. Prior success is book publishing’s best asset. If it worked well once, why not try it again, and again? Covers have to be readable on Amazon, and also attractive on Instagram: hence the sea of large, legible text, very often centered, all caps and sans serifs — and all-caps sans serifs! — tracked out and bold.