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Harper Offering Schools Discounted ‘Mockingbird’

17 March 2016

From Publishers Weekly:

With Grand Central Publishing’s mass market paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird set to go out of print next month, HarperCollins is introducing a special price offer for schools on its trade paperback edition. Beginning April 27, HC will begin what is essentially a rebate program with its accounts that sell directly to K-12 schools, enabling them to buy its $14.99 trade paperback for what amounts to the mass market price of $8.99.

The estate of Mockingbird author Harper Lee declined to renew the license for the mass market edition of Mockingbird. The novel, a staple in high school classrooms, has been published in mass market paperback since 1962 by Grand Central and its predecessor companies. Lee died last month and, according to Grand Central parent Hachette Book Group, the Lee estate said it was discontinuing the mass market paperback due to “the wishes of the author.” Grand Central will stop selling its edition on April 25.

Michael Morrison, president and publisher of HC U.S. general books and Canada, said the publisher is happy to enable schools to buy the trade paperback “at the lower price they have become accustomed to.” HC said the special offer, which applies only to schools, is open-ended and will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to M. for the tip.

M. points out the following excerpt from a discussion of TKAM in The New Republic which PG posted about earlier:

Schools typically receive a bulk sale rate that gives them more than 50 percent off of the list price of a book—they most likely pay less than $4.50 per copy of the mass-market paperback of TKAM, whereas a copy of the trade paperback would cost no more than $7.50.

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16 Comments to “Harper Offering Schools Discounted ‘Mockingbird’”

  1. Paying double what you used to = “the lower price you’ve become accustomed to.”


    • Although I will give HC credit for discounting in the first place. Lee’s estate is the villain here.

      • Dean Wesley Smith

        Really, Dan? This has been known about since 2012 that the Lee estate was going to reclaim the copyright under the copyright act. They filed all the papers and there was no surprise here at all. All public information for the last five years.

        Wouldn’t you want your copyright back and then be able to control it after all the years? If they let the old contract renew, they would have lost the control and the copyright forever because of the original contract.

        The estate is doing the only smart thing and after they get the rights back, it would not surprise me if they find a way to give it to libraries even cheaper than the traditional publisher was doing.

  2. It’s still going to be a considerable cost to the schools to replace entire classroom sets of the book instead of buying a few copies of the same MMPB. Teachers will also have to re-key their notes and hand-outs because of new page numbers, and the larger books will take up more space (and I suspect be more subject to wear and damage).

    No, even with the discount (still double the old price), this is not going to be fun.

  3. I think it’s time TKAM is removed from the “required reading” list. (I hope they don’t replace it with Go Set a Watchman- because that would probably mean more $ for the lawyer).

  4. Is the book really so important and special it can’t be substituted by any other?

    Forgive me, but I do recall when Microsoft finally started giving discounts to CompSci students and others. One of the reasons, maybe the main one? Students had given up pirating Windows and were installing Linux, more and more user friendly at each iteration. And those students were then joining the workforce with far more experience in an open system (and its non-free relatives) than in theirs, and started weaning corporate servers off-windows.

    If there are books in indie that teach about the same than this, schools will veer to them.

    Take care.

    • I suspect we’re going to find out how relevant and essential it is pretty quickly.

      (Hint: probably not essential.)

    • I’m not certain there are many relatively-short books that teenagers can read in class that allow so much discussion of writing craft, story, Southern culture and history, and morality and ethics all in one place, so to speak.

      *shrug* I could be wrong. I do not care for modern literature, and there could be something new out there that will do as much, as well.

      • I _hated_ reading in class. It was like walking through treacle… while shouldering the rest of the class. Often on books I wouldn’t put my enemies through.

        Take care.

  5. This assumes that your school district actually buys the books for the kids.

    Mine read it this year. We had to buy our own copy.

    • Yep, this. For my daughter’s AP English classes, we had to buy all the novel length reading material they used.

      • There’s a trend in Spain called “socialized books”. Basically, the PTA collects books at the end of the school year, erases any notes and hands them back for the next year. Also, a bunch of schools are turning away from textbooks.

        In many ways, it’s ironic. Fixed price country, “for the protection of culture”.

        Take care.

  6. Are there no used books out there? No place where they can be bought, say, at some centralized location that specializes in selling books?

  7. This isn’t that hard. If the book is too expensive, drop it and substitute another.

  8. I wonder if they’ll offer the paperback rights to another publisher or just indie publish it themselves. The estate would make a lot more money that way.

  9. The really funny thing is that HarperCollins’s special educational discount rate for the To Kill a Mockingbird trade paperback…is still 8 cents more per book than Amazon charges regular people for it.

    Yeah, that discount is “educational,” all right, but probably not in the way HarperCollins meant.

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