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Author Topic: New Mass Market Size?
Kitti
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So I was trying to shelve my new Christmas books and realized one of the books was an inch taller than all my other mass market paperbacks. It's not a trade paperback, it's otherwise sized exactly like a mass market, it's just an inch taller. It's book five in a series and all the other books are normal sized.

I've seen this same phenomenon in other series, too, from the same publisher (a major sci fi/fantasy imprint). Anyone know what's up with that? Is it some new industry standard? Someone messing with all us type-A book addicts? The precursor to an alien invasion of the publishing industry?


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arriki
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If it's what I'm thinking of, it's an inch taller and a buck more. It's also an awkward size for me to hold in my hand and read. I think they're trying to edge the standard price up. I refuse to buy them.
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ScardeyDog
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I've noticed it too - a bunch of books are going hardcover - large softcover - traditional paperback. It's annoying when I accidentally buy the large ones.
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extrinsic
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There's been some international pressure upon U.S. papermakers to conform to global metric SI (Système International) paper sizes. Much of the concern is with letter paper sizes, though. SI global A4 metric size: 210 by 297 mm (8.3" by 11.7"), letter paper size: 216 by 279 mm (8.5" by 11").

I imagine there's also some pressure in standardizing book sizes, but don't see the point. Overseas publishing suits local sizes, domestic publishing suits local sizes. There's not much cost effectiveness in retooling to suit global expectations or in shipping books from one global market region to another, except with the more labor intensive books being produced in China, full color lithograph picture books, specialty recipe books, die cut, embossed, metalic foil gilded covers, popup books, and such.

Bookmaking sizes follows from printing on full size sheets of paper, ie., 18" by 24", and folding into signatures, gathering signatures, book block spine trimming and glue binding or stitch binding, and trimming book block edges before or after cover binding. An octavo, eighths fold, yields eight leaves, sixteen pages for the standard casecover and trade paperback book size 9" by 6". A duodecimo fold, twelfths fold, 24 pages, yields a large massmarket paperback size of 7-3/8" by 5". An octodecimo, eighteenths fold, 36 pages, a small or standard massmarket paperback size of 6-1/2" by 4". Trim sizes vary, full foolscap sizes vary. Actual finished sizes flucuate a few fractions of an inch here and there.

I suspect the change in size is a consequence of contracting production with a different printer or more likely a decision to change book format to accommodate a slightly larger amount of text into a relatively same number of pages book.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited December 30, 2009).]


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aspirit
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It's not about meeting international standards; the size change is a marketing ploy. This Publishers Weekly article is from last year but provides information on what publishers are calling the "premium paperback" format (third through fifth paragraphs).

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6528111.html


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aspirit
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For those of you who own premium paperbacks, do you think they're easier to read than the traditional mass market paperbacks?
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extrinsic
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Premium paperback size is a tad smaller than trade paperback size, PPB conventionally 8-1/4" by 5-5/8", almost a size that would fit well with print on demand publishing on standard letter size paper which yields an 8-1/4" by 5-1/4" trim size perfect bound book. Both duodecimo and octodecimo paperbacks commonly are set in 10 point type. Like casecover and trade paperback, I understand premium paperback is conventionally set in 12 point. Words per page average 350 for most formats, though 420 words per page is not uncommon. Premium paperbacks I see frequently on bookseller shelves are large print editions set in 16 point or larger type. In my 5,000 novel paperback collection, about a dozen are in duodecimo size. Half a dozen in premium paperback and probably manufactured in octavo fold. The rest in octodecimo size.

I read what I've got, smaller print I hold closer to my eyes. I don't notice any discomfort reading any one or another size format.


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Dark Warrior
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If it is a marketing ploy isnt that a GOOD thing for us as writers? An additional strategy to help boost the sales of our current and future novels?
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Robert Nowall
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They've been making some paperbacks an inch or two taller these past few years...I was assuming the publishers farmed it out to somebody who had some new kind of press where it had to be taller...or, also, maybe they deliberately went larger to try to get noticed.

(Ah, publishing. In my old hometown, back in the 1970s, we had a printer who ran off books for Dell and Pyramid and maybe a few others. A couple of times we got a box full of some of their product as a gift---I usually extracted the SF items---and, in at least one case, I'm pretty sure I got a copy of a book that never made it to market.)


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aspirit
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DW, "ploy" has a more negative connotation than I'd intended to use. As a reader and as a writer, I'm curious about the premium paperback format. Will it encourage people to buy more paperbacks? Will buyers argue against the change as the smaller mass market paperback format disappears? Is the higher cost a result solely of higher production costs or do the publishers (and through them, authors) receive a higher return percentage? There's also a completely selfish question: Will I want the new format on my bookshelves?
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dee_boncci
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I've read two or three in that format and I found them more comfortable to read than many of the standard mass market paperbacks. It seemed like the font might have been a bit larger.
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extrinsic
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I see the premium paperback as a legacy and sentiment market. The few that I've got are classic titles purchased for literature studies. My professors were considerately conscious of toeing the cost line for student book budgets. They placed bookstore requests for that edition and the bookstores complied. I always checked library catalogs, myself, and frequently found copies available at public libraries. The college library copies were usually already in some fellow savvy students' or professors' possessions.

Premium paperbacks cost a third less than casecover. If the casecover is still in print at the time. For durability though, casecover is my preference. My pocketbook just can't afford all casecover. I've got an abundance of classics in octodecimo editions too. All but a very rare few of my novels in casecover are used book purchases.


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Robert Nowall
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I used to buy almost nothing but paperbacks...but it's hardcover and trade paper now. Part of it is that my interests have shifted some, and what I read now usually doesn't appear in regular paperback size. Some of it may be the price---when you remember paperbacks costing fifty cents or a dollar ninety-five, it's hard to shell out ten bucks for one.

But most of it is prosperity---as it hit me, I started buying more expensive books (hardcover and trade paper). Last week I bought a two-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln priced at one hundred twenty-five dollars. (Of course I got a card-membership discount and used two fifty-dollar gift cards as well.)


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ScardeyDog
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I wasn't thrilled with the large paperback size. I find them awkward to hold, which is the same reason I don't read a lot of hardcovers either. Depending on your bookshelves it can be a bit of a problem too.
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Kitti
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Bookshelf space was actually the reason I originally noticed the change in size. I've constructed risers that fit into my bookshelves so I can stack my paperbacks 2 and 3 layers deep (mass markets are the only books uniform enough for me to do this) and still see all the titles. The new inch in height really messes up my system.

(That and I'm type A enough that I can't have one book from a series not with the others, so I have to remove the whole series from my shelves and denigrate it to the "weirdly formatted fiction" bookcase. :-P)


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