Whether to publish a book in mass market or trade paperback is one of the toughest decisions in the editorial boardroom, according to Bantam Dell’s senior v-p and executive director of publicity, Barb Burg. To avoid that problem and test a new publishing model, the Random House division is launching Bantam Discovery, a new imprint that will release one title every month, simultaneously, in both formats.

Bantam Discovery will be unveiled in February 2008, with the release of Tess Stimson’s The Adultery Club, which was previously published in the U.K. (where it was a bestseller). The goal with the imprint, Burg said, is not to lose any potential audience with each publication. Noting that “changes in the marketplace” have forced publishers to make tough decisions about format, Burg said the either/or paradigm often leads to the loss of readers and accounts, as the latter will usually carry only one format.

While the focus of the imprint seems geared more toward women’s fiction—forthcoming titles include Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells and Dorothy Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl—v-p and director of publicity Theresa Zoro said Bantam Discovery will focus on general fiction. And, although the majority of the titles on the the list have not been published in paperback (or the U.S.) before, Burg said there are “no fast rules” about the kind of books that could be included in the future.

Announcing a seven-figure marketing campaign behind the list, Bantam Dell is taking a pricey gamble on whether offering readers and booksellers more choice will help them sell more books. The “dream,” Burg said, is to see some accounts take both formats and have booksellers sell the same title, in paper and trade paper, side by side. And, as Bantam Dell president Irwyn Applebaum noted, bring these authors to market with "immediacy and impact."