Small Favor is the tenth book in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, and even though I still haven't read it yet (I haven't even started the ninth installment in the series), I feel compelled to talk about it. Or to talk about its size, to be precise.
It all started with me looking up White Night (the ninth book in the series) on Amazon. I had seen it at Barnes & Noble, but the only copy they had was in pretty bad shape, so I thought I'd check it out online and get it there. I typed in the words, and the Amazon search engine gave me both White Night and Small Favor, paperback editions for both of them. That's when I realized the price difference: White Night was $7.99, as is usually the case with paperbacks, but Small Favor was $9.99. After frowning for a couple of seconds I remembered seeing the book at Barnes & Noble a couple of months ago, and I remembered I thought it looked bigger than usual. At the time, without even picking it up to flip through the pages, I thought it was maybe one of those large print editions, and therefore the size of the book was somewhere between a trade and a mass market paperback. Curious now, I clicked on the book, and I checked all the available formats. Turns out I was wrong: the $9.99 book was the only paperback edition available, and it is the normal edition. What gives?
I checked the customer reviews specifically looking for comments about the abnormal size of the book, and sure enough there was a thread that talked about this. I proceeded to read the different messages with a sinking heart, already knowing what was coming, and boy was I right.
Apparently, some publishers (if not all of them) have decided this time of economic crisis is as good a moment as any to raise the price of books, and to hell with the consequences. I had already noticed this trend with hardcovers (the only hardcovers I buy as a rule are Stephen King's books, so this took a while to sink in), but now it is obviously finding its way to the paperback market. So paperbacks from Roc (publishers of The Dresden Files) are going to be $9.99 now. That is bad. You want to hear what's worse? That the size of the books, as I've already pointed out earlier, is different. Small Favor is not smaller but bigger than its brothers. (Ah, the irony.) It stands about an inch taller than the previous nine books in the series, so what's going to happen when I get it? That my cool collection will look uniform up until book nine, and then we'll have this stupid change. So they're both raising the price (how much is that? A twenty percent increase?) and destroying continuity in one fell swoop. Nice job, guys.
Obviously, they want to make more money, and they've probably figured that people who will be bothered by the size change will just go ahead and purchase the previous nine books in the new, taller format when they are re-released, as they unquestionably will be. Well, I, for one, will not buy them again; and what's more, I think I am going to wait as long as I can to see if there is a newer, normal-sized edition of Small Favor put out after the general outcry. (Riiiight.) Therefore, by wanting to get two extra dollars from me, I am going to withhold the eight I would have gladly paid, so they will be losing money. I bet if everyone voted with their money, Roc would change their mind, but I doubt that will happen, and people will just buy the book.
The question remains: is this going to be the new standard in price and size across the board? Why not just the price? Do they really need to change the size to make a feeble attempt at justifying the price hike? And why not just one dollar? Why not $8.99? That would be bad enough, but twenty percent, and the stupid new size to boot? Give me a break. Or even better-- give me the old size and the old cover price.