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Old 17th Feb 2005, 11:47   #1
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Default Great News for John Self - Bigger Paperbacks are Coming!

The large print giveth...

US publishers attempt to arrest falling readership by making books bigger.

Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
Thursday February 17, 2005
The Guardian

There is a crisis in literature. Readers have stopped reading, drawn instead to other perhaps more modish forms of entertainment.
Sales are down, authors are despondent, salons are closing and literary lunches have become drab affairs.

But US publishers have come to the rescue. Literature's woes, they have decided, lie in the smallness of the print.

"Many people over the ripe old age of 40 are starting to have trouble reading, and reading mass market books has become very difficult," Jane Friedman, president and chief executive officer of HarperCollins told the Associated Press.

The answer is obvious: publishers are to make books bigger, thereby making space for larger print on the page and solving in one swoop the malaise affecting literature.

Maeve Binchey, Nora Roberts, Stuart Woods and Robin Cook (no, not that one) will be the first to benefit from the new supersized literature as Penguin launches its Premium range in the US this summer.

"We think it will be a more comfortable reading experience, but still at an affordable price," said Leslie Gelbman, Penguin's president of mass-market paperbacks.

The new format, which other publishers also plan to adopt in the US next year, will be half an inch taller than existing paperbacks.

Moreover, the books will be printed on higher quality paper and they will sell for a figure between the price of an existing paperback and hardcover book.

A statement from Penguin said: "The improvement is most apparent in the interior design, which has been crafted with the production values of a hardcover book in mind... The result is a much more enjoyable reading experience."

A Penguin executive, Norman Lidofsky, added: "We are offering the reader hardcover values at a paperback price."

The innovation, the publishers point out, is the first time that the mass-market paperback format has been tampered with for 50 years.

It is is their response to the declining book sales in the US.

The Book Industry Study Group reports that annual sales in the US have fallen from 600m in 1999 to 535m last year.

The innovation will also come as a relief to those authors who may have mistakenly felt that people were not buying their books because of something they had written.

Rather than being concerned about such old-fashioned literary gimmicks as plot, character and the careful choice of appropriate language, they must now recognised that the key to successful writing is to change the font size setting on their computer and to invest in some heavyweight paper at the stationers.
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Old 17th Feb 2005, 12:24   #2
John Self
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Still, as I understand it, "mass market paperbacks" in the US really are atrociously squat and ugly, with brittle paper and a little smaller than our A-format paperbacks (Archer or Binchy, say) so an increase will do them no harm. Literary paperbacks in the US are like your Sideways, Wavid, floppy and languid. Sadly the US publishing industry has yet to get to grips with the notion of good cover design for paperbacks.

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