I’m lucky enough to get review copies from publishers. Tucked between the pages will be a press release which normally explains a little bit about the book and the author, but often boasts about the fierce auction that took place in order to gain the rights to sell the book. I must admit that I’m often drawn to these books. If lots of different publishers are trying to get hold of a book it indicates that it has a certain quality (or at least marketability).
What interests me is that details of these auctions never seems to filter down to the public. Book covers don’t reveal the large advances paid or the number of publishers who fought over the rights.
Acquired in a fierce auction between twelve publishers.
would have far more impact on me than the backscratching praise that normally appears on a cover. I suspect that many other readers would be equally influenced by this information, so I wonder why this doesn’t happen.
Details of auctions are occasionally seen in news articles – for example, I found this one on the Guardian website:
Simon and Schuster fought off eight other publishers to land The Age of Miracles, a debut by American Karen Thompson Walker, in a five-round auction which went to sealed bids. Literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes, who handled the deal, called it “the most competitive auction I’ve ever had the opportunity to run”.
But normally the general public will be unaware of these of battles over books.
Are you more likely to read Every Contact Leaves a Trace if you know it was acquired in a “keenly fought auction” involving 5 publishers?
What about Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann which was acquired in a “hotly-contested auction”?
Do you think the number of publishers involved in an auction is any indication of quality?
Would you like this sort of information to be more widely available?
Are you more likely to read a book if you know lots of publishers were interested in it?