This month marks the publication of the beautiful paperback edition of Lauren Grodstein’s critically acclaimed novel A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY, an Algonquin staff favorite. Lauren’s suburban tragedy charts a father’s fall from grace as he struggles to save his family, his reputation, and ultimately himself. Trust me, it’s a book that will grab you from the get-go–check out the excerpt below for yourself. We’ve got two copies available for giveaway. Just leave a comment here or on our Facebook fan page to enter!
Recently, I had the pleasure of grabbing a drink with Lauren and several other Algonquin staff members in New York City. We chatted about the usual topics: top advances in the industry, James Franco’s “Three’s Company” multi-media project, favorite independent bookstores in major cities. Eventually, we got around to talking about the paperback edition of A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY.
“How do you feel about the cover?” Lauren asked us.
“For the paperback?” Kathy Pories, her editor, responded. “I’m bananas about it. Why?”
“Well,” Lauren said. “I love it. I honestly do. But I also loved the hardcover as well. I mean, you’ve got two entirely different angles here. On one hand, there’s the doctor, wading out alone into the ocean, completely overwhelmed and—“
“In over his head?” I interjected.
“Exactly,” Lauren said. “But on the other hand, for the paperback, you’ve got the next door neighbor’s alluring daughter, her face practically screaming sex with that seductive glossy mouth and eyelash-batting eyes…”
And she was precisely right. Both covers—which all of us at Algonquin love—perfectly convey the message of her suspenseful and evocative story.
Lauren’s question got me thinking. Do other authors typically like their paperback covers more than their hardback ones? What about people in the publishing industry–do they tend to favor paperback redesigns? Are readers more inclined to pick up a book (let’s pretend price isn’t a factor here) if the new cover is more appealing?
I posted the question on Twitter and heard back from another of my favorite authors I worked with, Jon Clinch. “Finn‘s cover got changed for the paperback,” he wrote. “Although the new design probably stands out better on the shelf, I think it lacks the gravity of the original.”
When I was employed at Random House, I worked on David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, one of my favorite authors as well as one of my favorite books. The hardback jacket looked like this; the paperback cover looks like this. I have to say, I’m a much bigger fan of the hardback jacket.
I once met with an author who told me that the one thing she fought for in her contract was control over the book jacket. (Granted this was nearly fifteen years ago, so I’m not sure if this is even an option for the vast majority of authors today.) I love that instead of holding out for more money, she fought for control over how her book was presented, and over how her story’s emotional content was depicted in the cover art. I guess you’ve got to choose your own battles, right?
–Megan Fishmann, Publicist