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February 2016



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Research - Tea and Books

Trade versus Mass Market, oh the Humanity!

Before we get on to the discussion, my spies have reported in that Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 3 is up for pre-order. This is the adaptation of Blameless and I've been loving it so far (yes, I get to see the chapters ahead of time). Also, I learned the trade paperback version of Etiquette & Espionage will be available October 8, 2013. Which brings us nicely around to (the entirely unconnected) . . . Trade Versus Mass Market.

I asked a question recently over Twitter and Facebook, it sparked a fascinating, and strangely epic discussion. Here's the question:

Talk to me about trade paperbacks: why do people prefer them over mass market paperbacks? Why do you?

First, let me quickly explain that in the US trade-sized paperback books, formerly called quality paperbacks (TR/TP/QP/QPB), are the ones that are slightly smaller than the hardcover (HC/CL) or roughly half-way between the UK's B format and C formats. These days young adult books, for example, are often brought out in HC first and then TR. I can't be precise with the measurements because it has come over all non-standard.

Mass markets are those little ones, also called pocket sized (MM/PB/PPB) which in the UK would be A format (although A is slightly larger than the US's MM for metric reasons). In the US these are 6 3/4 by 4 1/8 inches. Don't ask.

The Parasol Protectorate books in the US came out in MM, and there are two omnibus in HC. In the UK, they came out in B format. In other languages they came out in TR or HC with the exception of the Japanese edition which is very tiny (A6, I think it's called, 4x6 inches, like Baedekers).

The ARCs of E&E and C&C, just to complicate matters, came out in hardcover formatted paperback. Yeah, you read that right. Muhahahahaha.

From Left to Right: HC, TR, B format, MM, A6

The reason I asked this question is that recently rumor has it the market is shifting in preference (in the US) from MM to TR. This may have to do with publishers, or it may have to do with self publishing, or it may be that the MM readers are moving to ebooks. But it is certainly true that individuals have decided reasons for liking one over the other. I was curious as to those reasons.

The other reason I asked is because, as a reader, I prefer MM. My bookshelf, inherited from my grandmother, is sized for MM. I have to stack TR horizontally. Also, I can double stack MM if I need to, which means I can fit more books on the shelf. MM fit into my purse for travel, and since I have carpel tunnel, they are easier/lighter to hold. Also I don't feel bad about beating them up, and I am rough on my books. Those who prefer MM seem to share many of my reasons. Lastly, I would like to point out that I just ordered four different TR books from different authors/publishers, and each one was a slightly differently sized from the others. This kind of thing drives little OCD me absolutely bug-nuts. Fine, switch to TR, just everyone please switch to the same size TR!

Variable size TR's just for my own book, this example is global but even all within the US the range is pretty extreme.

However, those who prefer TR had good reasons of their own. The following is a small sample:

Trade paperback books (or B format) ...

  • are less awkward to hold one-handed

  • sometimes (not always) have larger print and are easier to read

  • will stay open better

  • have lighter paper with a nicer feeling texture

  • don't smell funny

  • have a nicer weight and size

  • are perceived as higher quality

  • have spines that don't crack as easily

  • better capable of handling thicker books comfortably (although one reader said the thicker the better in MM)

  • have cleaner lines

  • are more elegant

  • hold up better after multiple reads

  • fit better in larger hands

  • are comfortable to read, yet still feel special

  • look better and more book-like on the shelf

  • have bigger/nicer art work on the cover

I am intrigued and have already begun to look upon trades with a more sympathetic eye. I'm not interested in starting a debate, I merely enjoy seeing all sides of a object-shape preference. I find this kind of thing fascinating, it's the archaeologist in me.

Also, and I have no idea what this means, but among my social media interactions: Twitter came down firmly in favor of MM, and Facebook for TR. Make of that what you will. Oh, interwebs, what a wild and crazy place you are. I foresee some kind of rap throwdown in the future on this subject. I'm looking at you, Hard & Phirm.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1870-1880  The Victoria & Albert Museum
1885  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Lisa Hilland Chair Photo by Niklas Lundström
Lisa Hilland Chair Photo by Niklas Lundström

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
“By law Parliament had to meet at least every three years, but in practice it met annually because the historic English antipathy to a standing army forbade Parliament to authorize any army budget that provided for more than a year’s expenditure.”
~ Daniel Pool

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Via the Facebooks

Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third: Writing rough draft.
Etiquette & Espionage ~ trade paperback available in the US October 13, 2013.
Curtsies & Conspiracies ~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Release date November 2013. My ARCs have arrived, contest to come.
Manga ~ Soulless Vol. 3: (AKA Blameless) Available serialized through YenPlus. Print edition Nov. 19 2013.
Prudence ~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Delayed. Why? Begin rewrite in 2014.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT on the Parasol Protectorate series! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!

The Omnibus hardback editions are limited run through the SciFi Bookclub only.

The manga editions available in print.

Most short stories available in ebook form world wide!

The first Finishing School book ~ OUT NOW, The second Finishing School book ~ Nov. 5, 2013?

Book News:
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Alexia fan art by sweet tabby

Quote of the Day:
“Belle was from New York, and thought herself “swell.” A dashing brunette, with a fine figure, flashing black eyes, rich, sang well, aged twenty-five, and decidedly asserting in her style.”
~ Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine August 1872

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I like TPB because of the bullet points you listed. They are pricier than MMPB, but I now buy so many ebook versions of MMPB releases because they are on sale more often than not. I did ruminate about the shift towards TPB on Twitter after stopping by Target and seeing so many self-pub-to-NY books on the shelves. Since TPB is much cheaper to produce in POD, I think readers are being trained to pick up that format.

Trade vs MM

Since I'm not on the reviewer list for your books, I don't know what size they are. I do get books from Kensington, Henerey Press, Perseverance and TouchWood. All of the ARC's are produced in Trade size.

They are definitely easier to handle and read, especially with my poor eyesight (even with reading specs).
Different sizes can also come from where books are actually printed - different countries sometimes have printers that work with different sized paper. And I wonder if the publishing world is catching up with what those of us who have dealt with books & printing but don't sell retail had to learn 10 years ago - there can be VAST reductions in the amount it costs to print something by minor changes to the size of the document (such as, are you printing just "one" copy of the document per page and then paying to have that cut to a specific size, or can you resize and then get two copies on a page and have less cutting costs, etc.). When I last had to deal with documents printed for us in China about five years back, we cut the printing costs in about half from going from a half sheet (8.5 by 5.5) to a smaller format.
I prefer a MM over the TR by far, mostly because space and expense are premiums for the book aficionado. I do like the alternative TR that comes out when it's 2 or 3 books in 1, that rather justifies the bigger format. I also like sticking with what I have the most of, and that is MM. Their price hasn't raised too much over the years and the size is uniform. Whereas the TR are priced all over the place. Sometimes you find YA released in TR for $6.99-$9.99; I think that's a publisher gimmick to keep them affordable for teens. But an adult TR is often like $14.99/$16.99! I will buy HB on occasion... but I must add that I truly detest when a series is popular for 3, 4, 5+ books as MM then they get the clout to be released as HB! But they never release the previous books in HB! For example, Kate Carlisle's Bibliophile mystery series is coming up on book 7 now and it's being released in HB only. I'm going to wait for the MM so I can put it with the others in the series on my self. Probably will read the HB via the library since I hate waiting.
I prefer the MM size, too. Aside from all of the wonderful reasons which you listed, I also prefer it because it usually costs less - usually $7 or $8 versus $9-$15...this means that I can usually buy twice as many books if they are in the MM size. ;-)
Allegedly, TR are being pushed over MM because the one of the most inconsequential parts of creating a book is the paper cost, but people will pay more for the TR even if cost just pennies more to create.
We don't really see a lot of MM in the UK. I occasionally get US MMs for urban fantasy and I hate how close to the edge the writing goes and how hard they are to open. I'd much rather have a well designed trade paperback over a hardback and I also like the size of our B-formats which are the most common format here. I'd be much more likely to buy ebook over MM, I think, as they don't hold the same value as an object if that makes sense. But as most the books I get in MM are not from the UK, there's usually not an option to buy them legally in ebook anyway!
Interesting. Thank you!

book sizes - Trade and mass market

In New Zealand, it is a matter of what is available. I like both sizes for the reasons you stated. The trade paperbacks I have all vary in size too.

I suspect as I get older I will prefer the trade paperbacks for the larger font sizes. The great thing about ebooks is that you can adjust the font size to suit yourself.

Book Format vs OCD

I have a crap-ton of books. The biggest issue is shelving. Having so many sizes makes keeping any order difficult. My genre/author/pub. date method doesn't always happen. I order/buy books from many sources, so there isn't much consistency. My biggest pet peeve is when a series isn't offered in the same format. MM helps with the space saving as my main shelf seems to have been created for MM. But Trade looks cleaner. Much of the time it comes down to if I stand in the aisle and find myself 5 chapters in and having lost 30 minutes of time without noticing. Get me to ignore the creepy mouth-breather and you've sold a book.