Every year booksellers’ resentment against Scholastic Book Fair paperbacks, which they are unable to sell, flares up during book-fair season. Although Scholastic says that its book fairs introduce books to young readers and increase sales in the long-term, in the short term when the paperbacks are not available to other retailers that can be a difficult argument to hear.
This week the anti-book fair flames were fanned a little higher when copies of the Scholastic Book Fairs paperback edition of Catching Fire, the second volume in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy, were accidentally shipped to big box stores like BJ’s and Wal-Mart in New England. Customers brought them to at least one indie store to ask why they weren’t carrying it. According to Scholastic spokesperson Kyle Good, the error involved only a couple hundred copies, which are already being shipped back to Scholastic.
Only the first book in the trilogy, The Hunger Games, has been released in paperback to the trade. Catching Fire, which came out in 2009, and Mockingjay, which came out in 2010, are only available in hardcover editions outside Scholastic Book Fairs. In the meantime, Amazon is selling the Catching Fire hardcover, which is currently #1 in Books, for $9.98. A paperback edition sold by U.K. sellers is also listed on the U.S. site and is available for $10.34, on up to $88. It is hovering in Amazon’s top #300.