Paperback books are important for several reasons. They’re lighter (makes a difference when you’re lugging tons of books around). They travel better. And, they’re cheaper… usually a third the price of a hardcover book. Quality paperbacks last longer than you’d think. I have some well-loved ones from my childhood that I’m currently reading with my son.
Here are several popular children's books and series that are currently available only in hardcover with no plans (that I know of) for paperback versions. As a children’s bookseller at an independent store, I get asked for one of the books below in paperback at least once a day.
This is an early reader series… and books in this genre usually sell for $4 to $6. The Mercy Watson books sell for $13 each. As beautifully produced as the books are, most people aren’t willing to pay that much for early readers. Books in this series include:
- Mercy Watson to the Rescue
- Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride
- Mercy Watson Fights Crime
- Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise
- Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig (being released in July 2008).
Books 1-28 of this series have been released in paperback. So have books 33-36. But for some reason, the following books are still only available in hardcover. I get asked for the paperback versions of these Magic Tree House titles more than any other books on this list. Books in hardcover only:
- #29: Christmas in Camelot
- #30: Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve
- #31: Summer of the Sea Serpent
- #32: Winter of the Ice Wizard
This is a wonderful picture book series for the 3-5 year old crowd that I wish were in paperback. A few titles are available as board books, but they’re really too lengthy for babies. Books in this series include:
- Bear Snores On
- Bear Wants More
- Bear’s New Friend
- Bear Feels Sick
- Bear Feels Scared (being released in August 2008)
These titles have been released as board books, as books and CD combinations, as collections, as oversized books and in Spanish, but not as paperbacks. The first one was published in 1985. Please, oh, please, the time has come to put these books in paperback. Books in this series include:
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
- If You Give a Moose a Muffin
- If You Give a Pig a Pancake
- If You Take a Mouse To The Movies
- If You Take a Mouse To School
- If You Give a Pig a Party
This is a very funny series of books that unfortunately are only in hardcover. I attended the White House Easter Egg Roll last year, and was impressed to hear Duck for President being read aloud by Lynne Cheney. It's nice to see that Duck has finally made it to the White House. Books in this series include:
You may have not heard of these, but you should. The Moose and Hildy books are a series of funny early chapter books that are unfortunately only available in hardcover. The first book originally appeared as a picture book, and I applaud the publisher for repackaging it as an early reader. I wish they could go one step further and release these books in paperback. Books in this series include:Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. Published by Hyperion. Actually, there are currently no Mo Willems books available commercially in paperback. I really wish there were.
And here’s some excellent news. As I was making this list, I originally put at the top Toys Go Out, a lovely early chapter book by Emily Jenkins. But I just saw that the book is in fact being released in paperback in September 2008, and there’s also a sequel appearing at the same time.
Wait a second, you say. You’ve seen some of the books listed above in paperback… you’re sure of it. Yes, you’re right. Some of these titles have been produced in cheap paperback editions for Scholastic book fairs. But, these versions are flimsy and not available commercially to bookstores.
I'm sure there a lot of reasons why the books I’ve mentioned haven't appeared in paperback. They probably have to do with budgets, artistic issues, the price of manufacturing the books, and many other things. But, as a bookseller, all I see is the books getting put back on the shelf repeatedly because they’re too expensive. Maybe if the publishers knew how many times this happens with books that would be flying off the shelves otherwise, it might upset them as much as it upsets me.
Of course, if I ruled the world, all books would simultaneously appear in hardcover and paperback. Wouldn't that be lovely?