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Is There a Future for Mass Market Paperbacks?

Mass market paperback sales were soft for 2007.   Publishers weekly states several reasons for this including increased competition for shelf space.   Retailers are promoting hardcovers and trade paperbacks more so than mass market.   Also, the “premium paperback” which was designed primarily for the baby boom generation is also starting to make inroads.

One segment though of mass markets is still going strong, historical romances.

Via Publishers Weekly

Ned Litte

is Jane's long suffering husband who enjoys high fantasy novels and the occasional romance that Jane disguises as a fantasy book. He is also the photographer and artist of the multimedia reviews here at Dear Author.


  1. Nonny
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 23:39:03

    Hmm. I know that pretty much all the publishers that are publishing erotic romance / erotica are putting their books out in trade — off the top of my head, I think of Brava, Aphrodisia, and Spice. In fantasy, more and more books are coming out in trade first.

    It’s very frustrating for me, because trade paperbacks are much more difficult for me to read. Also, being on a tight budget, I’m much less likely to pick up a new author in trade vs. a new author in mass market. I frankly can’t afford to throw away between $11-16 on a book that may turn out to be horrible.

    Hardbacks are easier for me to handle but they’re worse when it comes to the price issue.

    Regardless of price, though, I’ll pick mass market over any other format. It’s just the most comfortable for my (admittedly quite small) hands.

  2. Wendy
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 23:42:49

    I gotta say I find that interesting. I think I live in a pretty large demographic (Southern California) and the “premium paperbacks” have largely disappeared from the shelves. I can’t remember the last time I saw one in a store. Heck even Costco recently – it was back to hard cover, trade and mass market. I had just assumed the grand experiment had blissfully died. Wishful thinking on my part? Or am I shopping in the wrong stores? Hmmmm

  3. Ned
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 09:43:00

    I have a hard time believing that the publishers were sitting down one day thinking to themselves, what can we do for the betterment of baby boomers? They have such a hard time holding the small mass markets and the print is small also, and they are not buying hard covers, and I guess trade paperbacks don’t work well for them also, so lets go to a premium size. All of this done out of the goodness of their heart…

  4. Janine
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 09:54:23

    Ned — I love the avatar!

  5. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 09:56:39

    Wait, I thought I was the cynical one in this relationship. I hate the super paperback but it must sell enough to warrant its continued existence.

  6. Ann Bruce
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 11:04:38

    Hate the premium paperbacks and trade paperbacks because (1) they’re expensive and (2) they don’t fit nicely in my bookshelves. I stopped buying Sandra Brown completely because her paperbacks only come out in the premium size. I only buy hardcovers if I really, really must read the book the moment it comes out (not very often anymore since I started upping my donations to the public library). I still love mass market and buy them regularly, but space is a serious issue when you live in a 700 square foot condo and don’t believe in selling your reading material to the UBS. (I can’t part with books…even ones I hated.)

    God, how I love ebooks. Now if only publishers will settle on one format and do away with DRM.

  7. Kay Webb Harrison
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:50:50

    Because I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists, I much prefer mass market paperbacks; they are easiest to manipulate. I will read trade paperbacks and hardbacks, but I rarely buy them new. I can wait for the mass market to arrive.

  8. Susan Helene Gottfried
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 20:52:33

    Mass market size is dying because we all want to see the end to the horrible newly sized- and priced- ones. Given the choice between ten bucks for a mass market book that’s hyped up on steroids and doesn’t fit well on my shelf (not to mention costs more to mail) and fourteen for a trade size, I’ll take the trade size, thankyouverymuch.

  9. DS
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 04:45:11

    I don’t think I’ve even seen a premium paperback that I know of– of course that may be a function of my bad vision due to being a baby boomer.

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