Paperbacks and mass market paperbacks are two terms that you’d be pretty familiar with if you read a lot of books. However, there’s still a chance that you don’t know exactly what makes them different from each other. What exactly is a paperback, what exactly is a mass-market paperback, and how to differentiate between them? That’s what we will talk about in this paperbacks vs mass market paperbacks article!
When it comes to books nowadays, there are many ways you can read them. They are available in multiple formats that can be divided into two major categories – physical and digital.
Although there are several advantages of purchasing books and novels in digital copies, there’s no beating the feeling of reading a physical book while being curled up in a blanket with a hot beverage in hand.
When it comes to physical format, there are still multiple formats to choose from, with paperback and hardcover editions being the most popular.
However, there is also mass market paperback and other formats to choose from!
So, what exactly is the major difference between paperback and mass market paperback books? Well, they are more or less the same, but mass-market paperbacks are smaller and considered less durable than paperbacks.
In this article, we will define what each of these book format is, the main differences between them, and finally, what format will work best for you.
What Are Paperbacks?
Paperbacks are the most popular format in which most books are available. If you want a physical copy of your favorite book, your first preference will be to get a paperback edition.
Paperbacks are also referred to as trade paperbacks by many. However, paperback is the more common term used to describe this format!
To be classified as a trade paperback book, the book needs to have a soft cover for the title page along with pages that are glued together. They tend to be less expensive when compared to hardcover books.
The average size for a paperback book is five or six inches wide and eight or nine inches high. Sizes can vary in some cases but generally follow the same size structure. And paperbacks are also pretty lightweight, which makes it easy to carry them around with you.
Sometimes, paperback books can come with what is called a French flap. A French flap means that the front and back covers have a folded section. It gives the effect of the paperback book having a dust jacket, which is generally seen in hardcover books.
As I mentioned earlier, trade paperback books are great for travel and comparatively cheap, so it’s good for your wallet. However, it is not as durable as a hardcover edition. So, if you are trying to buy your favorite book and want to preserve it for a long time, going for a paperback might not be the best idea. Damage to paperbacks is extremely common and occurs quite easily.
What Are Mass Market Paperbacks?
On the surface, mass market paperback books might sound like the same thing as trade paperback books, but there are differences.
So, what exactly is a mass market paperback?
Well, this book format is generally on the smaller side compared to trade paperbacks, with a soft paper cover and paper pages that are glued together, and they are usually printed in large quantities.
Sometimes the mass market paperback can come with a cover that can be stripped off, meaning the cover can be stripped and returned to the publisher if the books do not sell. This is not done to all mass market books, though; it depends on the publisher.
The standard size of a mass-market paperback book is usually four by six or seven inches. It’s smaller and can fit on the shelves where it is sold.
These books are not sold in the most traditional places, so it makes sense that you will want to have a smaller size so they can fit in what is usually a limited space.
Paperbacks vs Mass Market Paperbacks – All The Differences:
Even though they are both considered to be paperback books, there are differences between paperback editions and mass-market paperback editions.
Here are some of the most significant differences between paperback and mass market paperback:
The durability of paperbacks and mass-market paperback is the biggest difference you will find between them.
While both are less durable than hardcover books, trade paperbacks are considered to be more durable than mass-market paperbacks. Pages are also less durable in mass-market releases and can discolor easily.
The next major difference between the two formats is the size of the books, which can be a dead giveaway if you are unsure whether the book you own is in trade paperback form or mass market paperback form.
Paperback books are generally five to six inches wide and six to nine inches tall, while mass-market releases are four by six or seven inches.
Distribution-wise, paperbacks can be found in libraries, bookstores, and retailers that are considered to fall under the traditional banner. You can easily find the trade paper edition in almost every bookstore; even if you are purchasing from an online store like Amazon, you are likely to find the paperback edition over the mass market edition.
When it comes to mass-market paperbacks, you will find them sold in mostly non-traditional locations for books, like drug and grocery stores, airports, and newsstands.
Another big difference between paperback and mass market paperback is the font and the line spacing in the two book formats.
The font and line spacing are bigger on trade paperback novels and considerably smaller on mass-market releases. This should not be surprising, considering normal paperbacks are larger and more durable.
The final major difference in the paperbacks vs. mass market paperbacks article is the price of the two formats.
While both paperback versions come with an affordable price, traditional paperback books are higher priced than mass-market releases and cost more to print. Yes, they are cheaper to make than a hardcover book, but they are still a bit costly compared to mass market editions which are cheaper.
Paperbacks or Mass Market Paperbacks – Which Format is Best for You?
Both book formats have benefits and drawbacks. Most readers will always prefer paperbacks, while others will be drawn to mass-market paperback releases, especially when no other format is available for purchase.
If you are considering buying a paperback rather than a mass-market paperback, remember that these are a little more expensive; however, they are still very affordable and not as expensive as hardcover books.
Also, you can easily find a paperback version of your favorite book within minutes. You can purchase them online or visit your nearest bookstore or library to get one!
Should you be leaning towards mass-market paperbacks, you should be aware that while these are available for a more affordable price, they might have a low paper quality, and the print quality might not be up to the mark.
In addition, they have smaller print and less spacing between the lines, so if your eyes are not the greatest, it might be difficult for you to read them.
However, both trade paperback books and mass market paperback books are perfect if you want to carry a book while traveling.
If you don’t plan to keep the book with you for long and only need it for the short term, then buying a mass market edition might be a good choice. However, getting a paperback version would be optimal if you buy a book you would own for a long time, like one of the classics.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and what is essential to you as the reader. If you want a book that is affordable and easy to carry, a mass market paperback may be the best choice. If you want a more durable book that provides a better reading experience, a regular paperback book may be the way to go.
Why are mass market paperbacks cheaper than regular paperbacks?
Mass market paperbacks are cheaper because they are mass-produced and have lower production costs than regular paperbacks, which are usually printed in smaller quantities and have higher production values.
Which format is better for reading?
It depends on your personal preferences and needs. Paperback books are typically more comfortable to read and hold because they have larger pages of better quality and a sturdier spine than mass-market paperbacks. However, mass market paperbacks are more lightweight and compact, making them better for travel or reading on the go.
Which format is better for book collecting?
Regular paperback books are considered more valuable and collectible than mass market paperbacks because they have higher production values and are often published in limited quantities.
Do paperback books and mass market paperbacks have different content?
No, the content of a book is the same regardless of the format. The only differences are in the physical appearance and features of the book.
What is the typical size difference between a paperback and a mass market paperback?
Mass market paperbacks are generally smaller in size than standard paperbacks, usually measuring around 4.25 x 7 inches compared to the larger 5.25 x 8-inch size of standard trade paperbacks.
Do mass market paperbacks have the same quality of paper as standard paperbacks?
Mass market paperbacks are often printed on low-quality paper than standard paperbacks to keep production costs down. This can result in a thinner paper that may be more prone to tearing or yellowing over time.
However, some publishers do use higher-quality paper for mass market paperbacks, especially for books that are expected to have a longer shelf life.
Are the covers of mass market paperbacks less durable than those of standard paperbacks?
Mass market paperbacks are often printed with thinner, more flexible covers than standard paperbacks. This can make the front and back cover more prone to creasing, bending, or tearing over time.
Can you find special editions or rare books in mass market paperback format?
While mass market paperbacks are often printed in large quantities and are designed to be affordable and widely available, there are still some special editions or rare books that are released in mass market paperback format.
These may include limited editions, first printings of popular books, or special editions published for a specific market or audience.
However, collectors and fans of rare books generally prefer to collect hardcover book editions or trade paperback books, which are considered more valuable and collectible.
That brings us to the end of the article, where we discussed what is a paperback and what is a mass market paperback, and also saw the arguments revolving around the paperbacks vs mass market paperbacks topic!
Even though you might be a long-time reader who has a complete library and has been reading for a long time, there might be a chance that you wouldn’t be aware of what makes the two book formats different! Not everyone might realize that there are significant differences between paperbacks and mass-market paperbacks, but there are, as we mentioned in the article above.
Both have pros and cons, as discussed throughout the article, so just go with whatever appeals to you more. Ultimately, the point is to grab a physical copy of a book, curl up somewhere comfortable, and get to reading.
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