Tag Archive: Paperback


While it is true, there has been a major decline in physical book sales and a massive upswing in digital or e-books, there is still a very good reason to offer your book in paperback.

While most people will opt to buy your book in the e-book format because it’s cheaper and they get it now instead of waiting for your “real” book to ship to them and with an e-book they also don’t have to pay shipping charges. But they dones’t mean you should ditch offering it in paperback all together. Some people feel it’s not a good book if it doesn’t exist in the other format. It’s a strange yet popular belief that a book isn’t at least available on paperback, then it probably isn’t worth checking out in the first place.

While I agree that may seem strange, there is no explaining the consumer mindset and well, why even try? If offering your book in paperback can help increase your e-book sales, why not do it?

There is also another distinct advantage to doing this, especially with Amazon because they take the list price of your paperback book and then show the e-book version of the book as a discounted price. For example,

Digital List Price: $0.99
Print List Price: $5.97
Kindle Price: $0.99
You Save: $4.98 (83%)

Who doesn’t want to save 83%? I mean come on … that’s a great deal, right? People love bargains and if it looks like you are saving them 10%, 20%, 50% or 83% in this case, it makes them feel like they are getting a good deal and that has been proved time and again by marketing experts as a great sales tool.

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.