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Topic: Book Sizes??

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Subject: Book Sizes??
Date Posted: 7/14/2014 6:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2007
Posts: 99
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I am wondering about the different sizes of books. Like the hard cover the what I call the large paperback which is the size of a small hardcover and what is called a trade paperback and then there is a paperback that is the same width as a regular size paperback as I would call it but is longer. I was on a book selling site and they were talking about trade paperback and was wondering about it.

Does any one know the different names for the different sizes in hard and paper cover book??????????

Date Posted: 7/14/2014 9:59 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2010
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From an old SF FAQ:

What is the difference between "mass-market" and "trade" paperbacks? Why do some books come out in trade paperback instead of the more affordable mass-market format? What about A, B, and C format in Britain?

What is the difference between trade paperback and mass market: the channels of distribution. Trade paperbacks do not piggyback on the ID system of periodical distribution.

("ID distribution" is book publishing jargon for "that part of the periodical-distribution industry that puts cheap paperback books into non-bookstore outlets, like the wire racks at grocery stores." It has nothing to do with bookstores.)

How does size relate: It doesn't. The reason that a number of trade paperbacks are oversized is that they are manufactured from the actual sheets printed for the hardcover edition, but bound in paper wrappers.

Does being strippable make a difference: Yes. All mass market books are strippable. Any book that is distributed through both mass market and direct channels is strippable. [Strippable means that the retailer needs to return only the cover for full credit; the rest of the book is destroyed.]

Books that are distributed -only- though trade channels, be they hardcover or soft cover, are usually sold on the basis of whole copy returns.

[Provided by Beth Meacham and Patrick Nielsen Hayden.]

As for why (more expensive) trade paperbacks instead of (cheaper) mass market paperbacks:

To publish a mass-market paperback successfully, you need to sell 10,000 copies of a 25,000 run to succeed--*and* you need to do this in a six- to eight-week period. Trade paperbacks can sell fewer, but even more to the point, they don't have a time limit, since they are not stripped by bookstores after six weeks. [culled from panels at Boskone and elsewhere]

Or as Michael Kube-McDowell explained it:

The floor condition for successful mass market publishing is roughly analogous to being able to fill a particular 50,000-seat stadium for a football game on a particular Sunday afternoon.

The floor condition for successful trade publication is roughly analogous to being able to attract 10,000 visitors to a new museum of textile arts in the first six months it's open.

You can't have successful mass market publishing if people are wandering into the stadium a few at a time from Saturday morning to six weeks from Thursday, all expecting to see the same game--even if the total eventually is enough to have filled the stadium.

What you get in that case is a 50,000-seat stadium that's mostly empty (returns), which doesn't do much for either the team or the owner.

[Thanks to MK-M.]

And on the British side:

"A format" is the same as a US mass market size. "B format" is bigger, sort of like an Orb book. "C format" is yuppieback, excuse me, trade paperback, the size of a hardback but with a soft cover. Any of these may be trade, same definition here as there, but "C format" always are.

[The above was provided by Jo Walton.]

And now some additional commentary from me:

In the United States we have three basic "formats" for books: hardback, trade paperback, and mass-market paperback.

Hardbacks (a.k.a. hardcovers) have stiff board covers under some covering, often with an additional dust jacket. This covering used to be cloth, so these are supposed listed as "Cloth" in ads and such. They cost US$20 and up (give or take). The size varies, but most novels are about 16cm by 20cm (6in by 8in) by whatever thickness the length requires. Coffee-table books are even larger ones, usually with lots of artwork and designed to be put on coffee tables (or perhaps made into them).

Trade paperbacks have very thick paper covers, and paper similar to hardcovers (actually often better, since they don't usually have the ragged edges one sees these days on hardbacks). They are usually about the same size as hardbacks, sightly shorter because the binding is done differently, and without the added thickness of the covers. They cost in the US$10 to US$25 range (generally novels are in the lower part of that range, non-fiction in the upper). One feature several people have mentioned is that in general they have the larger font of the hardback, making them easier to read. There are also some trade paperbacks that look exactly like mass-market paperbacks, but usually with better quality paper/covers. You can tell they are trade paperbacks because the copyright page will have a notice that they are not strippable.

Mass-market paperbacks have very thick paper covers, but cheaper paper et al than trade paperbacks. They are usually about 10cm by 18cm (4in by 7in) by whatever thickness, but there are also "large-trim" mass-market paperbacks that are the same size as the standard trade paperback. They are usually in the US$5 to US$9 range, but the large-trim ones cost more. They are "strippable"--that is, bookstores can rip off the front cover and return just that for full credit. They are supposed to destroy the rest--not all do, and so some publishers have/still do(?) require that they return the cover and the first ten pages. In general the quality is poorer than trade paperbacks, with glue that may give over after a few years, etc. Nowadays most, if not all, mass-market paperbacks have a notice on the copyright page that if you are buying a coverless copy, it is stolen property.

Konrad Gaertner adds:

And recently, publishers have started putting a triangle on the cover next to the bar code, with an "S" inside if the book is strippable, empty otherwise. This way people (esp. bookstore clerks) don't have to look at the copyright page to determine the format. I've even seen hardcovers (with and without dust jackets) with the empty triangle.

And a new wrinkle: according to Elaine Y. Fisher:

A "turtleback" is one of those paperback-turned-hardbacks that one often sees in libraries, usually with the paperback color cover laminated onto the front. One is now seeing this term on used-book websites. [It turns out that "Turtleback" is the name of one of the three companies that do this sort of rebinding; the other two are Permabound and Bound-to-Stay-Bound.]


Date Posted: 7/14/2014 11:06 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Mass Market Paperback (or MMPB) is your standard pocketbook or paperback novel size.

Trade Paper refers to several larger sized paperbacks

I forget - there's an oddball size that's the same width as a pocket/MMPB but an inch or two taller.  I don't recall the specific name just now.  A publisher experiment from a few years ago, we don't see them much.

Hardcover is your standard, like a library book & often with a dust jacket/cover.

Library Binding is a hardcover that is printed in full color instead of a solid cover with full color dust jacket.  These are often children and young adult titles.  General circulation may be a paperback, but Library binding is specifically manufactured for heavy use needs such as library children sections (remember those elementary school books on presidents, states, etc?).

Turtleback is a specific re-binding process.  Most frequently seen in classics or other paperbacks commonly used in the classroom. Traditionally these were pocketbook/MMPB size, but a few other sizes are sometimes available depending on the size of the original binding.  A re-binder (such as Turtleback or Sagebrush) purchases a regular paperback from the publisher, removes the paper cover, and rebinds it with a durable hardcover (often with the original art/cover), the resells them...most often for school use, but sometimes library or other high use purposes.

Softcover is a flexable cover, often fabric and/or leather instead of paper.  Many Bibles have a softcover.


Last Edited on: 7/14/14 11:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 7/16/2014 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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<<Trade Paper refers to several larger sized paperbacks>>

Just to confuse matter more, trade paperbacks can also be smaller than a mass market paperback -- i.e. artsy books of postcards, small gift-type books and others in that theme that are paperback -- they're still technically trade paperbacks, even when they are small.