Today, we are going to talk about the difference between mass market paperback vs paperback books.
We have done our best to create a comprehensive, easy-to-follow and clear overview that will enable you to understand the difference.
Whether you are a self-publishing author or you are looking to expand your knowledge on the topic, this is the article for you.
Let’s dive right in.
Why should you know this?
Self-publishing authors will probably deal with both types of paperback books at the start of their writing careers. It’s essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both and use them accordingly.
First, we will take a look at each of them individually.
What is a Paperback Book?
Paperback (or a softcover or softback) is a more popular name for a trade paperback book or trade paper edition. You can find paperbacks at regular retail bookstores, book distributors and book dealers. These are considered traditional trade outlets, and that is where they got their name.
Book Cover, Size & Quality of Paper
Paperback covers are made of thick paper or paperboard. Hardcover books use stitches or staples to hold the pages together, while paperbacks have flexible binding and usually use glue.
You can see the pattern – they are the less expensive version of hardcover books.
Their size is usually 6×9, 5×8, 5.5×8.5 inches and so on.
The quality of the paper is quite good and more durable than the paper used in mass-market paperbacks.
Self-Publisher’s Best Friend
Big publishing houses publish some books as hardcover editions. In that case, the paperback edition is what usually follows it. It has the same page count and illustrations. The difference is in the material of the cover and price.
If you are self-publishing, you will probably be using paperbacks only at the beginning. They are the best value for your money.
French Flap (Gatefold)
Here is a cool tip.
There is an easy way to identify a paperback book. But how?
It would help if you looked for a French flap (sometimes called a gatefold). You might be wondering what that is.
French flaps are the extensions of the paperback cover on its front and back. They fold on the inside and resemble a dust jacket cover (paper wrap) of a hardcover. French flaps exist to make a paperback look and feel like a hardcover as much as possible at a lower price.
For Which Genre are the Paperbacks Most Popular?
It seems that non-fiction writers tend to use paperback covers. Also, as we mentioned before, most self-published authors will print their books this way.
You now know everything you need to understand what is a paperback book.
What about mass-market paperbacks?
Let’s look into them right away.
What is a Mass Market Paperback Book?
The mass market paperback is a smaller and cheaper paperback version of the book, as the name suggests. Sometimes, you can hear people call them ‘pocket editions’ or ‘pocketbooks’, due to their size.
Book Cover, Size & Quality of Paper
The most common sizes are 4×7 or 4.25×6.75 inches. Small sizes are the reason they use a smaller font, leading and line spacing than the paperbacks and hardcovers.
They do not contain any illustrations.
The paper inside the mass-market paperback, as well as its cover, is usually a thin, low-quality paper. They are not exceptionally durable.
You can find these books at pharmacies, gift shops, supermarkets, airports, railway stations, etc. Look for them near the checkout counter. Distributors of this type of paperbacks market and position them for impulse buyers and large numbers of people at a low cost.
Mass Market Paperbacks are “Strippable”
What this means is that stores can rip off the front cover and return only the cover for full credit or refund from the distributor. They are supposed to destroy or recycle the rest of the book since it is illegal to sell it.
Why is this good for the sellers?
In case that the book is not selling, they can strip off the covers, return them to the book publisher and get their money back.
However, trade paperbacks are not “strippable”. The book retailers must return the entire book, not just the cover.
For Which Genre are the Mass Market Paperbacks Most Popular?
You can find a lot of romance, thriller, mystery and other fiction books in this format.
Now that we know all of this, we have answered the big question. However, let’s do a recap by looking at this infographic.
What is the Difference Between Mass Market Paperback vs Paperback?
We should also take a look at the most common questions on this topic.
Are mass market paperback books bad?
While they are much lower quality than trade paperbacks and especially hardcovers, they serve their purpose. They are supposed to enable you to purchase books at a lower cost if you are willing to give up some of the benefits of a more expensive version.
Additionally, smaller sizes have their practical use. If you are still a big fan of physical books and avoid ebooks at all costs, you can easily carry around these pocket editions with you wherever you go.
Are mass market paperbacks abridged?
No, they are not. They are smaller than regular paperbacks, but that is why they use a smaller font, leading and line spacing to make it all fit nicely.
How do you know if a book is a mass market paperback?
It is relatively easy to know that you are holding one. The most apparent sign is always the size of the book.
There is also a noticeable difference in paper quality. It should feel thin and light in your fingers as you are flipping through the pages.
Which is better – paperback or mass market paperback?
There is not a clear answer to this question since neither one is inherently better than the other.
If your book is supposed to reach as many people as possible at a low price, the mass market paperback is the right option. However, you will be giving up a lot in the quality department.
We know how hard can it be for authors to make a living with their book sales, let alone set aside enough to invest in their next book (we wrote an entire article on how much money authors make). If you are looking for the best balance between quality and price, and you can’t afford to invest in hardcover printing, the trade paperback is the option you should choose.
We hope that we have covered all of your questions in this post.
Now, we would like to hear from you:
Which of these seem like a better option for new authors from your point of view?
Please let us know by leaving a comment below right away!