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BN Editor
Bill_T
Posts: 366
Registered: ‎03-20-2007
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Paperbacks Big and Little

Hey everyone, following along the chain of questions in the "Questions for the Author" thread, I thought I'd post a thought or two. But since that thread is for Jackie to answer your questions, I figured it was best to move it to a different space.

Jackie probably knows more about this than I do, and may chime in with the author's perspective, but from the working-in-the-bookselling-industry view: the larger paperback (what we call "trade paperback") is a relatively new thing.

Once upon a time paperbacks were neither respectable nor very high-quality. The main option was the "mass market" size (that smaller, usually thicker size you see sold everywhere, not just in bookstores but in drugstores and newsstands as well). For a long time, paperbacks were known for their cheap paper and bad binding (I remember as a teenager carrying around a copy of James Clavell's historical novel Shogun that had completely separated from its binding; I had to keep it together with a rubber band).

The paperback's reputation wasn't helped by the fact that there was an association between paperbacks and cheap, "pulp" fiction about crime or sex or some combination of the two.

A number of things came along to change this (such as the rise of Penguin Classics, for example, which put enduring masterpieces in an inexpensive form, with a better grade of paper and binding) -- a big factor was that reading got more democratic; as more people from different walks of life wanted to read serious books, there was an increasing incentive to publish them in forms everyone could afford. Paperbacks lost their sense of being primarily for thrillers and romances. Soon, almost every major book was published first in hardcover, then in paperback.

And as paperbacks became more popular, more readers began to clamor for more lasting and appealing forms. Hence the rise of the larger formate we call the "trade paperback." These tend to be more expensive than mass market paperbacks, but also easier to handle & read (the wider page means larger typefaces and bigger margins than the mass markets), and the binding & paper are often more enduring.

The small/thick kind of paperback is still quite popular -- because they tend to cost a little less, so some readers prefer the form. But the "trade paperback" combines the best of both worlds: they endure a long time (if not as long, generally, as a hardcover), so if you wish to pass it on to another reader, or save it for a re-read in the future, it will hold up and not fall apart; and they look and feel closer to the way the hardcover does. But they're cheaper and lighter than the hardcover.

In some cases publishers offer readers both versions. These are often sold in different venues; a bookstore will sometimes carry the larger trade paperback version, while an airport venue or a convenience store will stock the smaller one. Some bookstores will carry both at once.

As someone who reads on the subway, often standing, and doesn't like to try to hold a hardcover book while doing so, the trade paper form is my favorite -- I'm happy to find out that Jackie's books will be available in that form. Jackie, are your previous novels going to be re-issued in trade format?




kiakar wrote:


Wrighty wrote:

lepking wrote:
I am so glad to find out the difference in Mass Market and Trade. When I read that in the newspaper I never knew what it meant. What is the release date? I need to get a couple for gifts. lepking




I never knew the difference either. Why are there two ways to do it?




I am no expert at this but probably due to costs. The short paper back probably cost less to manufacture than the long paper back. you know, I like the long paper backs better. They are really almost as good as hardbacks. They need a new name, something nicer sounding or something. I would want all my books in this cover if I had a perfect library!

Frequent Contributor
homereader
Posts: 101
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Paperbacks Big and Little

I have become a big fan of trade paperbacks. It is my favorite format, because the books are lightweight and easier to read than the mass market paperbacks. I am at the point where I will not buy a mass market paperback. It may have to do with "old eyes" or my tendency to fall asleep while reading. (I always lose my place with a mass market paperback, but only sometimes lose my place if I nod off while reading a trade paperback.) LOL The trade paperback version is easier to carry around or stick in my purse. I can pack a few in my suitcase, without taking up too much space. I find it cumbersome to carry a hardcover around, but I will sometimes buy a hardcover if a book is only available in hard cover and I cannot wait to read it. Just my humble opinion. Thanks for the explanation about the evolution of the 2 types of paperbacks.

Janet aka homereader
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Paperbacks Big and Little



homereader wrote:
I have become a big fan of trade paperbacks. It is my favorite format, because the books are lightweight and easier to read than the mass market paperbacks. I am at the point where I will not buy a mass market paperback. It may have to do with "old eyes" or my tendency to fall asleep while reading. (I always lose my place with a mass market paperback, but only sometimes lose my place if I nod off while reading a trade paperback.) LOL The trade paperback version is easier to carry around or stick in my purse. I can pack a few in my suitcase, without taking up too much space. I find it cumbersome to carry a hardcover around, but I will sometimes buy a hardcover if a book is only available in hard cover and I cannot wait to read it. Just my humble opinion. Thanks for the explanation about the evolution of the 2 types of paperbacks.

Janet aka homereader




Yes, homereader I agree with you. The big trade paperback is like heaven sent. I hated those mass market ones. The covers were horrible and I couldn't keep them open either. Especially reading in my favorite place, in the middle of my bed with lots of pillows around me. Yea, the book industry really done us a favor by invented those wonderful trade paperbacks. I think they should be called The Wonder books.
Author
JackieM01
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎03-28-2007
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Re: Paperbacks Big and Little/TRADES

I also love trade paperbacks.
They can be an entirely new form for a hardcover book, introducing it to a new audience, or can be a way to keep a book in print for a very long time. I also simply like their "feel." The new cover for 'Cage of Stars' is red, with a dark shadow of a tree looming up in front of a shed, under a night sky strewn with stars. It was almost the hardcover, but was judged "too scary." A trade paperback is aimed at a different market, too -- a bit more of an upscale market, perhaps that of a business traveler. Mass markets used to be very popular "tie in" books with movies made from those books, and pictures of the stars on the front, but even these are less and less done. One area in which mass market may always reign is the softcover mystery and romance. Some new novels are published straightaway in paper to save on costs.
Jackie M.
BN Editor
Bill_T
Posts: 366
Registered: ‎03-20-2007
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Re: Paperbacks Big and Little/TRADES

I'd forgotten about the fact that one benefit of the trade paperback is a second chance to create a memorable cover image for the book.



JackieM01 wrote:
I also love trade paperbacks.
They can be an entirely new form for a hardcover book, introducing it to a new audience, or can be a way to keep a book in print for a very long time. I also simply like their "feel." The new cover for 'Cage of Stars' is red, with a dark shadow of a tree looming up in front of a shed, under a night sky strewn with stars. It was almost the hardcover, but was judged "too scary." A trade paperback is aimed at a different market, too -- a bit more of an upscale market, perhaps that of a business traveler. Mass markets used to be very popular "tie in" books with movies made from those books, and pictures of the stars on the front, but even these are less and less done. One area in which mass market may always reign is the softcover mystery and romance. Some new novels are published straightaway in paper to save on costs.
Jackie M.


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