Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mass Market, part 2

Mass Market paperbacks. These small, relatively harmless books sow much discord among the branch and Central library staff in my system. There are some who love them, most don't think anything about them one way or the other, and some loathe them. They are synonymous with "genre" literature with is synonymous with "bad" or "trash" or "junk" books. But you've all dealt with that attitude before so no need to re-hash that here.

I don't have a separate budget for mass market paperbacks, so I normally come across them during my everyday ordering or when I'm ordering replacements.

Replacements: when ordering replacements, I first have to consider my options. Often, only a mass market paperback edition is available, so that's what I get. If there are mass market and trade paperback editions available, then it becomes a choice of what we have in the system or what we've had previously, how big is the book, and price.


Take Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes for instance. The mass market version of this book is huge (1, 438 pages) and not easy to read. The hardcover is still available, but the Gabaldon books are almost synonymous with spine breaks. I'm not sure what the people of Indianapolis (or the library staff of Indianapolis) are doing to these books, but I've seen relatively brand new copies in the book sale split right down the middle. (Yes, we still sell them and yes they still sell.) So, trade paperback it is. And, since we only have 4 left, I'd better get on that!




Obviously, the less expensive the format, the more I can buy. I also take into account how much money we've already spent on the title. We originally purchased 400 hardcover copies of Eleven on Top by Evanovich. I can't see a compelling reason to purchase any more in hardcover. Mass Market replacements will be just fine. (We currently have 14 of those original 400 left. Guess how many have gone out more than 26 times....)





New Books: As I said upstream, I don't have a separate budget for buying mass market paperbacks for the cataloged collection, but there are a few extra things to consider when deciding whether to purchase something in that format.

1. Paperbacks will get discarded/disappear from the collection quicker than hc or tp books. Whether it is because they are more likely to be "genre" books or because they are easier to steal/lose/damage, I don't know. I suspect it is both, but who can say.

2. Because we don't (or shouldn't) be putting cataloged paperbacks into the dreaded "spinner" racks, there isn't a shelving issue of regular sized mass market books vs. PREMIUM TALL EDITION mass market books. Given a choice between the two, I choose regular sized mass market. But, if something is paperback only in the tall edition, I'll order it. I haven't heard from patrons one way or the other.

3. There will be discontent and/or complaints that the collection is too "romance centered". There are a lot of romance books issued in mass market paperback. Once upon a time, we didn't buy category romance for our general collection. If we got them as donations, that was great. They didn't go into our library catalog, and it was just dumb luck if you found them at your branch. We have plenty of staff who feel this was a great practice, and haven't adjusted to seeing them in the general collection. When all 12 spots on our New Arrivals are variations on a Harlequin category theme.....well....you can imagine the whinging.

Later, we can talk about the unprocessed paperback collection we have in our branches......for now, how do you handle mass market paperbacks at your library? Are they purchased and/or shelved differently than other books? If you are a library user, do you prefer mass market paperbacks to be separated out from other formats? Tell us what's up!

1 comment:

Helgagrace said...

I still think this uncatalogued "bonus" collection of paperbacks is bizarre.

We have more than 5,000 mass market paperbacks, shelved by these genres (descending by number of items): Romance, Fiction, SF/Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fiction, Nonfiction, Horror, Western.

Some authors can be found in more than one subsection, which is annoying. Some series can be found in more than one subsection, which causes me to yank the offenders and do a little relabeling. This goes back to your "where does it get shelved" genrefusion post from last month.

The mass market paperbacks are one of my babies, so I probably think about them and cultivate them a bit more than I would otherwise. I recently set up a display in the middle of the shelving area to highlight newly published paperbacks, and that seems to have been mildly successful.