We all know that publishers are the ones that help authors make the transition from a manuscript to a book we can buy from the shop, purchase online or borrow from the library. But how often do you think about the publisher when you’re looking for a book?
I’ve been pondering this for a while – I would say that I now routinely look at who publishes a particular book. I don’t think I did this as conscientiously as before I had this blog. Writing and reading as Sam Still Reading has opened my eyes to a number of different publishers, their size, their types of offerings and where they keep their new book catalogue on their website! I’ve realised that publishers may have several names under one umbrella – for example, Random House comprises not only Random House, but other publishers such as Vintage and Bantam Press. (This is just an example – I’m not being paid to pick a publisher here!) I’ve seen that the same book can be published by different publishers depending where in the world you are.
When I was younger, a pre-Christmas highlight was the trip into Angus & Robertson in the city to choose books for Christmas. (Sadly, A&R no longer exist. The building is now a clothes store that has no character whatsoever). In my youth, I read The Babysitters Club almost exclusively. The problem soon occurred that I had read every single Babysitters Club book available. So what to do? The Babysitters Club was published by Ashton Scholastic and distinguished by the red apple on the cover. I used to pick other Apple books to read (classic Apples were yellow, and younger Apples were green) and found some fantastic books to read.
Later on, I used to read by author. I would read a book I liked, then read other books by them. I ran into an issue there too – Margaret Mitchell had only written one book (a second, Lost Laysen, was released and soon given to me as a present) and I could read faster than Maeve Binchy could produce books! I wasn’t all that adventurous at that stage, so I used to find the genre I liked (chick lit) and run with the publisher. This meant lots of reads from Red Dress Ink, combined with ‘serious’ reads by Penguin Classics.
Then I started reading more widely, based on reviews I’d read and browsing in bookstores. I began to link publishers to a ‘type’ of book, such as ‘serious read’ or ‘chick lit’ as I’d done previously. The problem was that publishers had all sorts of books for sale! So I gave up and just went with my gut. I still do to a point. Sometimes I don’t get it right, but sometimes I find exactly the book I was wishing for!
Ebooks changed the game. I’m not a Kindle reader, but on some epub ebook websites there is occasionally discount codes for books. However, these codes can’t be used on all books. Some publishers allow discounts, others not. This isn’t going to stop me buying the book in some way, shape or form though if I want it! It’s just made me more aware of who publishes what.
I wouldn’t choose a book based on publisher alone, but some publishers have cool quirks that I like. I like how Bloomsbury have a note about the typeface used in the book; I love the monthly emails of new releases; I don’t mind the odd competition to win a big prize (I did win one a few years ago!) but most of all I like how there’s something for everyone out there!
Do you have a favourite publisher? To what extent do publishers play a role in what you read?