Tall Mass Markets?

In a move which will be enjoyed by consumers, many publishers are now binding books in a “tall” mass market size? These are on the same low-quality paper, and bound with the same low-quality binding, as your typical pocket book, but are about 3/4″ taller. The good news is, the type is much easier to read – it’s a little bigger and the space between the lines is a little wider. The other good news is that these “premium” mass markets are generally $10 new compared to $8 for a new traditional mass market or $15 for a new trade paperback. So, for a price closer to a mass market, you can enjoy the something close to the readability of a trade paperback or hardcover.

The bad news is that they don’t fit on mass market shelving. Is this the new size that all pocket books will be made? Will bookstores around the world re-size their shelving? A quick glance at our paperback section reveals that the pocket books printed in the 1940s-60s were, in fact, 1/2″ shorter than the pocket books printed since. So, this has happened once before. What is the deciding factor here? Are Americans’ eyes failing? Are today’s pulp novels just so horrendously long that no one can stand to read 400 pages of small-type anymore? Has the readership market changed from 1940s teenagers (with better eyesight on average) to 2000s retired couples (with worse eyesight on average)?

Or do publishers just want the extra $2 a pop? It is, after all, convenient for publishers that you get a book that’s 10% larger for 20% price increase.

I will see what I can dig up, and keep you posted.

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