Paperback is a general term which includes both mass-market paperbacks–that’s the small ones about 4 inches by 7 inches–and trade paperbacks, about 7 by 10 or so. (There’s some variation.) Mass market often cost about $6.99 or $7.99. Trade paperbacks cost more, usually $13.99 – $16.99. They’re somewhat easier to read, with a larger font, bigger gutters, and more widely-spaced lines, and are usually on better-quality paper which won’t yellow as quickly as mass-market paper, and made with better glue so the pages stay put.

Hardcover is better quality paper, and of course the hard cover which protects the pages. It’s often no easier on the eyes than trade paperback, though, and it costs substantially more.

Since I’m not hard on books, I usually opt for trade paperback unless it’s a book I’m sure I want to own indefinitely and will probably reread many times. Then I go for hardcover.

Mass market paperbacks tend to have cheaper paper, no (or very few) illustrations, smaller print, and a smaller page dimension.

Trade paperbacks (what your program is referring to as simply “paperbacks”), on the other hand, are usually printed on better paper, have easier-to-read print (even if the font size is the same, there’s often more spacing between the lines) and are more likely to have the illustrations that the hardcover version has.

Since there’s nothing definite about most of this, consider how big the book is and how much it costs.  We’re all familiar with that standard pocket paperback book size.  I don’t have a ruler handy, but I’d estimate it as being about seven inches tall by about 4 inches wide.  That’s a mass market paperback.  Those larger, odd-sized paperbacks that don’t fit neatly on my smaller bookshelves are trade paperbacks.  I’ve also noticed that mass market paperbacks all tend to cost either $6.99 or $7.99; trade paperbacks are usually over $10.  (I’m sure that’s not an absolute rule, but it certainly applies to most of the books I own!)

For posterity: “Mass market paperbacks” (or “MMPB”) are small, (relatively) inexpensive paperbacks sold through venues other than traditional bookstores: drug stores, convenience stores, gift shops, and so forth. The biggest giveaway is the bar coding: in a traditional book, the bar code on the back is the EAN “Bookland” code. It will typically have the ISBN written above it and will begin “978” or “979”. In a mass market paperback, the bar code on the back will be a UPC code, and the Bookland EAN will be inside the front wraps.

That’s a bit technical, but try this: if you have a paperback, open the front cover. If a bar code is there, on the reverse side of the cover, it’s almost certainly considered by the publisher to be a MMPB. If the bar code on the back begins “978” or “979”, the publisher almost certainly does not consider it to be a MMPB.

Advertisements