What is a Backlist?

Did you know that many of the most well-known novels—even your favorites—are considered backlist titles? Everything from the Harry Potter series to Catcher in the Rye and The Handmaid’s Tale are backlist titles in the publishing industry.

A backlist is a publisher’s list of older books that are still in print, but have been on sale for more than a year. The backlist is the opposite of the frontlist, which is a publisher’s list of newly published book titles. Books often become a part of the backlist because there is limited shelf space in stores, which is usually designated for frontlist titles that a publisher is marketing extensively. Because the period in which a book title goes from frontlist to backlist is so short, most of a publisher’s title catalog consists of backlist books.

Photo by Robyn Budlender on Unsplash

All hope is not lost for a book when it becomes a backlist title. In fact, publishers rely on backlist titles to bring in steady revenue because, though the books may be older, they are still generating sales.

Publishers can focus their marketing on selling frontlist books while accumulating revenue from the trusty backlist titles. However, publishers also market backlist titles to generate more excitement and sales. Because backlist titles are available as e-books, their unit sales increase, which translates into more revenue for publishers.

Backlist titles also play an increasingly significant role in the revival of independent bookstores. Unlike major bookstore chains (who carry few backlist titles) and Amazon (which allows third-party sellers to make revenue off backlist titles), some independent bookstores buy in bulk from the publisher and sell a store full of backlist titles. This creates revenue for both parties and creates a direct connection with customers.

Titles such as Milk and Honey and Wonder, which have been best-sellers for at least three years, are still outselling some frontlist titles. This trend shows how valuable backlist titles are to the market. The availability of backlist titles improves the publishing market because the frontlist titles have to compete with them. Between e-books, Amazon, and independent bookstores, backlist titles have found a place in the market and will continue to compete with frontlist titles for best-seller status.

Next time you pick up one of your favorite books, remember it’s not just important to you, but also to the entire publishing industry. And when you want an older book, check out your local independent bookstore or buy from the publisher—you’ll be helping more than just yourself when picking up a backlist title!

The Creativity of the Crowd

The Crowdsourced Poetry Project is under way! We have three lines so far and are excited to see more contributions to our sestina. Go to our Facebook page to submit your contribution for the next line. Our poem so far:

I began to ask myself the questions
With answers hanging in the air
What is here is noise, above which we can hear

For those of you who don’t already know, the Press is doing an experiment in creativity where we are hoping to harness the wisdom and imagination of the public to create a stunning poem. We have chosen to use the sestina for our form, mostly because it requires no rhyming or syllable counting, making it more accessible to contributors, while its use of repeated end-words gives it just enough complexity and structure so that it won’t spin off into a wild dervish. A sestina is a poem of six stanzas that are each six lines long and then a final, three line envoi. The stanzas all end with the same six words as the first stanza, though in a very specific order. In “Sestina: Altaforte” Ezra Pound uses these words at the ends of the first six lines: peace, music, clash, opposing, crimson, and rejoicing. According to the form they reappear in the second stanza in a new order as: rejoicing, peace, crimson, music, opposing, and clash, and so on throughout the next four stanzas. The repetition of these words both allows and forces the writer to use them in new ways and with new meaning imbued each time, creating a rich tapestry of language where the pattern continues to reveal itself throughout. Please join us in our quest to crowdsource a poem; the results are sure to be interesting and possibly very beautiful indeed.

Intern Spotlight: Bryan McCloud

Bryan McCloudHello, I’m Bryan McCloud, a Junior at the University of North Georgia. I have recently joined the University Press as an intern, and desire to improve my understanding of the publishing world while here. My intent is to participate in a variety of projects, so that I can find a type of job, likely editing, that I can be comfortable with performing. This should give me an idea of what position to look for when I start searching for jobs in publishing.

 My passion for the various forms of creative expression has led me to major in English and minor in Graphic Design. I have always had an admiration for the creative expression, no matter what medium it is presented in. My admiration has compelled me to become a writer, in hopes of one day getting published. To accomplish this I seek to improve my writing capabilities and overall understanding of literature. In pursuit of my goal I have kept an open mind to other forms of writing, and have since taken offbeat classes, at least for my major, such as script writing.

Intern Spotlight: Amber Paige Lee

Amber Paige Lee Amber Paige Leewas born and raised in Alma, Georgia. At age eleven, she moved to Dawsonville, Georgia with her mom, dad, and little sister, Marla. After completing just one semester at North Georgia she moved to Orlando, Florida in January 2009 and completed an internship at Walt Disney World. She is still a seasonal cast member at Disney and works in the theme parks during Christmas and summer breaks. She also worked at ESPN Wide World of Sports for the Atlanta Braves Spring Training. She returned to North Georgia in the fall of 2009 to focus on her degree in English Writing and Publication. While at North Georgia, Amber was a cheerleader her freshmen year and is a sister of Sigma Kappa sorority. In her free time, she enjoys watching football, reading, writing, watching Star Wars, riding her horse, competing in pageants, and visiting her friends all across the United States. One of her biggest dreams is to travel to the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and all around the globe. She will use those experiences to inspire her creative writing even more. Amber will graduate from the University of North Georgia in May 2013 with a BA in English and minor in History. After graduation she plans to move to Manhattan and begin a career in publishing, while still writing on the side. Her backup plan is to get a job in editing or writing in Atlanta, Georgia. Either way, she knows her life will be a big adventure.


Call for Submissions: War & Leadership Series

War and Leadership publishes innovative work on the study of leadership in war. The focus is on both military and civilian leaders who impacted the wars and military thought of their respective era. Although biography is an important part of each publication, volumes in the series will emphasize the individual influence in the context of their respective era and beyond.

War and Leadership includes work from all fields and eras of military history. While the series approaches history from a broad chronological and geographic perspective, the volumes will be united in their thematic and analytic emphasis on the relationship between the evolution of warfare and the military institution through leadership, both successful and failed.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Submissions should take the form of a 3-5 page proposal outlining the intent and scope of the project, its merits in comparison to existing texts, and the audience it is designed to reach. Submissions should include a sample chapters and a detailed table of contents along with a current curriculum vitae.

 Send submissions to tmmay@northgeorgia.edu

The first book in the Series on War and Leadership The Military and the Monarchy: The Case and Career of the Duke of Cambridge in an Age of Reform, written by Kevin W. Farrell, was published in October of 2011.