Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Slow Decline of the Mass-Market Paperback

Surprised the AAP doesn't include an entry for trade paperback, but based on a sampling of my personal collection, the measurements for this format are all over the place, though smallest I found is 5 1/4" x 8".

Are those slightly taller paperbacks still being published?   As we discovered at the Middleton Public Library, this format doesn't fit into the 6-tier paperback island display units.  Most annoying.

The Dog-Eared Paperback, Newly Endangered in an E-Book Age. (The New York Times, 9/3/2011)

Excerpt: Recession-minded readers who might have picked up a quick novel in the supermarket or drugstore are lately resisting the impulse purchase. Shelf space in bookstores and retail chains has been turned over to more expensive editions, like hardcovers and trade paperbacks, the sleeker, more glamorous cousin to the mass-market paperback. And while mass-market paperbacks have always been prized for their cheapness and disposability, something even more convenient has come along: the e-book.

A comprehensive survey released last month by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group revealed that while the publishing industry had expanded over all, publishers’ mass-market paperback sales had fallen 14 percent since 2008


For decades, the mass-market paperback has stubbornly held on, despite the predictions of its death since the 1980s, when retail chains that edged out independent bookstores successfully introduced discounts on hardcover versions of the same books. The prices of print formats are typically separated by at least a few dollars. Michael Connelly, the best-selling mystery writer best known for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” said he worried that book buyers would not be able to discover new authors very easily if mass-market paperbacks continued to be phased out.

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