Adventures With Words

In which much reading and writing is meant to be done…

Mass Market Paperbacks: Love ’em or Hate ’em?

The book world is one full of opinions. Passionate opinions. Deeply held opinions that you will live or die standing for.

This makes the book world a bit tense sometimes, to be fair, but debates and conversations and opinions are also what make life interesting. So today I want to talk about… mass market paperbacks.

Really, I want to tell you my opinions on them. But don’t worry, I’m up for all bookish conversations to please let me know in the comments what your opinions on mass market paperbacks are.

First, though, my opinions. In the form of a Pro vs. Con sort of list.

Mass Market Paperbacks: Hate ’em
  • They require two hands at all times, no laying flat on a desk or letting it flop over your leg while you read.
  • For generally using such thin, near translucent paper, those who print these books often seem intent on using such tiny print that a quarter of a book could fit on about ten pages.
  • The paper also seems to have a nasty habit of yellowing way faster than other books, which can make your books seem raggedy and cheap, rather than well-loved and valued… if you’re going for aesthetics here.
  • Big books in mass market form are never, ever going to work. Especially if cracked spines are something that gives you a nervous tic. I saw a 1100+ copy of IT in mass market form, explored it a bit, and realized it would’ve required about six different head positions to the words sloping down into the crack.
  • Because you get what you pay for and mass market paperbacks trend toward cheap, you run the risk of ending up with a lot of books you are never, ever going to read again.
Mass Market Paperbacks: Love ’em
  • The first ‘adult’ books I read were mass market paperbacks, because that was what my mom had on her shelves that she was happy to let me pilfer so the nostalgia factor is real.
  • These books are the cheapest you can find, and sometimes you get what you pay for, but sometimes that’s just fine. And sometimes the gamble to find a gem is fun!
  • A mass market paperback, or three, won’t result in an appointment with a chiropractor if you carry them around in a backpack or bag all day.
  • If you’ve got limited shelf space, more mass markets fit on a shelf than do hardcovers. So there’s that.
  • It seems to me that people will still buy boxes of old mass markets at yard sales, used book sales, etc. so if you’ve got a collection you don’t want, you can get rid of it for a few dollars.

And that’s my list of pros and cons, as it were.

I think my final answer is this… a book is a book no matter the packaging. There will be times when one format fits your life better than another.

That’s my take.

What’s yours? Let me know in the comments if you’ve got a preference and/or reasons for your preference! And answer me this… if you could only read one format of a book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Mine would those bigger paperbacks whose official name I forget just now…

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About Me

An English diarist and naval administrator. I served as administrator of the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament. I had no maritime experience, but I rose to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and King James II through patronage, diligence, and my talent for administration.


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