Trade Books: You Know More About Them Than You Think!

Ok, so you’ve decided that you want to work with books in some capacity. You know about The Big Five and some ways to pursue a higher ed degree in publishing, but do you know what  TYPE of books you want to go into? A lot of people say, I love reading Harry Potter or YA Fiction, but is that really the work you want to do? Do you want to read the good and the bad of all the genre you work in? If you’re not sure, check out the areas of book publishing below. There are so many application of literature and writing to explore!

There are three main key categories of book publishing markets:

Trade, Academic, and Professional. 

#1 Trade Books

Trade books are the paperbacks you see in grocery stores, on the physical shelves of Barnes and Noble and the digital ones of Amazon. All New York Times bestsellers count and most audiobooks. If you read Green Eggs and Ham as a child you have participated in this form of publishing pyramid.

Merriam Webster defines trade books as “a book intended for a general readership” General being the keyword.  Anyone can go into CVS and buy their choice of a cheesy romance or self-help book.

Trade books are both accessible in location and price. Tending to range from $7-$25, the majority of the population doesn’t mind spending a little here and there for a good story.  $1.99 on a Kindle book doesn’t seem so bad compared to a $7.99 paperback.  But the they are both pretty cheap.

Whether it is a collection of Brontë or a hardcover first-edition of Stephen King’s It, there are no rules to what can be sold under trade books, both in digital and print.

Some examples are:

  • Romance novels
  • YA (Young Adult)
  • Children’s books
  • Thrillers
  • Fantasy
  • Biographies
  • Cookbooks
  • History
  • And so much more!

New categories of trade books are constantly being created. The Amish love story genre didn’t exist twenty years ago! Compare that to the raunchy 1392 Canterbury tales and you’d have a fun analysis.  Trade books are what most editors hope to one day explore and be a part of. To find the next JK, C.S. Lewis, E.L. James, or other ambiguous initialed name, would be a dream come true.

However, check out the less glamours ways to look at the publishing field in the next article, ” Academic and Professional Publishing: A Look at the Other Side.”

Until then,

Have a great day Bookworms and talk soon!


Kime J. Sims.




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