Expanding into Hardcover

Hardcover books on shelves in the background, open hardcover books on table in foreground, and the post title'expanding into hardcover' is superimposed on the front.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig,o9

I’ve recently been interested in expanding my books into every format that I can.  Who knows how someone might want to read my books? I’m in digital, print (paperback), and audio. I’ve made my books accessible to an international audience and now the Myrtle books are being translated into Spanish (more on that in a later post).

But I’d never really thought about hardcover. It seemed like a very expensive option to buy. I know that, aside from gifts for family, I haven’t bought a hardcover book in ages.

As part of my expansion into other formats and to other markets, however, I realized that my books (through PublishDrive) are doing very well on the OverDrive platform.  That’s a major distributor of digital materials to libraries. (More on OverDrive in this post.)

If my books were doing that well at libraries, I figured that it would make sense to have them also available in hardcover. Perhaps an acquisition librarian would note that my digital books were circulating to readers and decide to purchase a hardcover for the stacks.

Things to consider: 

If you’re on Ingram, you’ll need to have ISBNs for your books (not the free ones from CreateSpace or Smashwords…which actually show CS and SW as the publisher). And, even if you have your own ISBNs, because this is a different format, you’ll need new ISBNs for the books for this particular format. I’m buying ISBNs from Bowker in bulk.

Obviously, your covers will need to be adjusted. I asked my cover designer to adapt the existing covers for hardcover dust jackets. You could also choose a case binding cover, but I wanted the cloth bound hardcover with the dust jacket.  (More about hardcover choices in this post from Ingram Spark.)  You’ll need a good deal more copy than you’re used to: there’s a back cover and front cover, but there’s also an inside front cover and an inside back cover to consider.

Your cover designer will need the ISBNs for the books in order to pull up a template from Ingram. And, of course, this means that your book needs to be at least partially set-up on Ingram to begin with. You’ll put in your book’s metadata as usual (I like to fill the fields out as completely as possible, not just focus on the required fields), set the international prices (this is hardcover, so you’ll want to go higher to see at least a little profit. Additionally, I set the book trade discount a bit lower, to either 30% or 35%), and upload the interior PDF. I used the same PDF that I uploaded for my trade paperback listing, and Ingram adapted it (it wasn’t a size-specific PDF to begin with). Depending on your file, you may need to upload an updated interior PDF.  Then the cover designer will pull a template from Ingram.

The trim sizes for hardcover are here on Ingram’s site.  I chose the closest size to my paperback size.

There’s is also a cost for Ingram’s set-up for the books at $49 a book.  I’ve never paid the full fee since I’m a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors and they frequently have discounts for Ingram services.

My total cost ended up being the ISBNs and the cover adaptation.  If you’re cleverer with design than I am, you could avoid that cover modification fee.

What I settled on: 

I chose a gray cloth cover with a matte laminate.

I looked at books at my local library for copy inspiration for the dust jacket.  I decided to go with:
Inside front cover of all books:
Description at top.
Series description (following) below that
Inside back cover of all books:
Author picture
Author bio
Website/contact info
Back Cover:
Testimonials for all three series

Each book ended up looking like this:

Some writers have mentioned that Amazon will discount the hardcovers as loss leaders…and must still pay full royalties to the author since the discount was on their side.

Will I make a lot of profit off these books this year?  Most certainly not at a margin of $2-$3 a book. Will they always be in hardcover and always available to print? Yes. It’s the long-tail in the publishing game, as everyone has overstated. I’m willing to have modest returns in the short term and write off my costs for this project on my taxes next year. In addition to the library market, these could be draws for avid fans (see “Why Hardcover is the New Vinyl” by Yahdon Israel), and can be used as special promotional giveaways.

Have you thought about hardcover editions of your books?

Tips and reasons for making your books available in hardcover: Click To Tweet

Photo credit: Abee5 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

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17 thoughts on “Expanding into Hardcover

  1. Hi Elizabeth – fascinating post … as I read this and the other possibilities you’ve covered with your books … I thought about large print books – there’s a market for those too … there are lots of opportunities – congratulations again on stretching and reaching new markets … cheers Hilary

    1. I’ve thought about large-print too, especially for my audience, and have heard good things about it. I’m thinking it would just take a spine adjustment and interior formatting.

      It just helps to have our books available however readers might want to read them. Have a great week!

  2. It’s been years since I purchased a hard back book and I almost never purchase anything in print. But some people do and a hard back would certainly hold up better in a library.

  3. Thanks, Elizabeth, for your thoughts on this. I understand completely what you mean about wanting to have your books available in as many formats as you can. As you say, who knows how a given reader might want to experience a story. And for some people, hardcover jut ‘feels’ right.

  4. How exciting Elizabeth. I have actually bought a hardback cover book recently and it was lovely to hold in my hand. I wish you lots of fun in the process and much success.

    1. I think, in your case, it would be a tremendous investment in *time* (adapting covers, setting up each book). And that time, as a publisher, could be better spent doing things with more impact on your bottom line. For me, the time element was less of a consideration because I’m outsourcing some of that work.

  5. That’s really smart to expand into hardcover for library purchasing. I don’t know the stats but I would guess that (cozy) mystery series’ are very popular library checkouts – but maybe that’s because that’s what I’m always looking for!

  6. I LOVE how you are always thinking about how you can accommodate readers. Large print is always nice. I’m telling my aaaaage. :(

    By the way, I realized the other day that during my time away from blogging that you posted a comment on JW mentioning my absence. Thank you for that!!! Not many noticed my absence. I appreciate you so much.

  7. I haven’t purchased a hard cover book for some time. I did one that I was donating to a hospice house. Prior to that I purchased a hardback when an author was in town for a book signing and it was her most recent release. I also had her sign the latest paperback released too though.
    For your new released will release only your hardback first and at a later date the paperback version? Or both (all if talking audio too) at the same time?
    With your thoughts on a library purchasing them, will you market to them directly to let them know your books are available in hardback now in hopes of generating sales?
    I always enjoy your posts. Thanks

    1. I’m actually going to be releasing the books in ebook and paperback format first and then hardcover after (since the hardcover seems like it takes a little more setup). Audio will usually release a month or so later (as long as it takes the narrator to complete).

      Thanks for coming by!

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