What Is a Backlist

Glossary > Backlist

💬 Definition of Backlist:

A backlist is a publisher's books that are still in print but have been on the market for at least a year. This is opposed to newly-published titles, which are known as the frontlist.

Related questions about backlists:

What is the difference between backlist and frontlist collections?

The backlist is the opposite of the frontlist, which is a publisher's list of newly-published books. Books get into the backlist collection due to limited shelf space in bookstores, which are usually taken over by recently published titles. The time for a book to be on the frontlist collection is short, but it greatly depends on its popularity. That's why most of the publishers' catalogs are backlist books.

What is a backlist catalog?

A backlist catalog consists of everything that wasn't published in the current season. Famous titles like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings are backlist titles in the publishing industry, although they continue to remain popular with readers.

Are backlist books relevant?

Publishers rely on backlist titles to generate steady revenue. While they sell older titles that bring in money, they can focus on advertising the newly-published titles. Backlist titles can also be used as powerful marketing materials to promote newer ones. For example, a publisher can use a backlist title from a particular author in giveaway campaigns to create buzz around that author and their new books.

Where can you find backlist books?

You can find backlist titles online through retailers or bookstores. You'll see them mostly in independent bookstores that rely on these older titles to generate sales. Major bookstore chains and huge retailers like Amazon will focus mostly on promoting newly published titles. 

If you go to a bookstore, you'll see that its shop windows and main shelves are occupied by frontlist titles, and on occasion, new editions of backlist titles.

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