Store Bits: Size Matters

A frequently-heard question at ABC is “Is there a paperback version?” Ah, the answer to that is not as straightforward as you might think, and our UK and US suppliers don’t make matters easier with all the different terms they supply. So here’s a short tutorial on book sizes.

Let’s start easy: hardcover = hardback, the large books with very sturdy, “hard” covers. The US supplier calls them hardcovers, the UK supplier calls them hardbacks, but they amount to the same thing. If an author is even remotely popular and/or distinguished, a publisher will print a hardcover edition first.

Now it gets tricky: paperbacks. There are paperbacks, trade paperbacks, mass markets, pockets and probably a few other terms involving “paper” on our site. All of them refer to a book with “soft” covers – but they come in a variety of sizes.

Our US supplier uses “trade paperback” when they are talking of a soft cover book between 20 and 30 cms tall, and “paperback” when they mean anything smaller – what most of you know and love as pockets or mass markets because they fit in your coat or handbag and cost the least.

Our UK supplier just calls everything “paperback”, but they come in 3 sizes: A, B and C. A-size is your little pocket or mass market, B is similar to a US trade paperback and C is the same size as a hardcover. How do you tell the difference? Look at the prices: A-size paperbacks generally cost between € 8 and 13, B-sizes between € 12 and 18 and C-sizes between € 17 and 25 (approximately).

So, to answer your question: A C-size paperback is often published at the same time as the hardcover. The B-size and A-size paperbacks arrive between 10 and 12 months later, although a publisher sometimes surprises us with special European export pockets published much earlier (and not available in the UK or the US).

So you see, answering questions is not always as easy as ABC. 🙂