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A paperback, also known as a softcover or softback, is a type of
book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making process. For example, a single customer’s sale at a restaurant is data – ...

book
characterized by a thick paper or
paperboard Paperboard is a thick paper-based material. While there is no rigid differentiation between paper and paperboard, paperboard is generally thicker (usually over 0.30 mm, 0.012 in, or 12 Inch#equivalences, points) than paper and has certain s ...
cover, and often held together with
glue adhesive dispensed from a tube Adhesive, also known as glue, cement, mucilage, or paste, is any non-metallic substance applied to one or both surfaces of two separate items that molecular binding , binds them together and resists their separati ...
rather than stitches or staples. In contrast,
hardcover thumbnail, 200px, A typical hardcover book (1899), showing the wear signs of a cloth cover over the hard paperboards A hardcover, hard cover, or hardback (also known as hardbound, and sometimes as case-bound) book A book is a medium for recor ...
or hardback books are bound with cardboard covered with cloth, plastic, or leather. The pages on the inside of a paperback are made of paper. Inexpensive books bound in paper have existed since at least the 19th century in such forms as
pamphlet A pamphlet is an unbound book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making process. For example, a single customer’s ...

pamphlet
s, yellowbacks,
dime novel (1860) The dime novel is a form of late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S. popular fiction issued in series of inexpensive paperbound editions. The term ''dime novel'' has been used as a catchall term for several different but related fo ...
s, and
airport novel Airport novel(s) represent a literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, setting tone, tone, Content (media), content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length. They ...
s. Modern paperbacks can be differentiated by size. In the U.S., there are " mass-market paperbacks" and larger, more durable "
trade paperbacks A paperback, also known as a softcover or softback, is a type of book characterized by a thick paper or paperboard cover, and often held together with adhesive, glue rather than stitch (textile arts), stitches or Staple (fastener), staples. In c ...
". In the U.K., there are A-format, B-format, and the largest C-format sizes. Paperback editions of books are issued when a publisher decides to release a book in a low-cost format. Cheaper, lower quality paper, glued (rather than stapled or sewn) bindings, and the lack of a hard cover may contribute to the lower cost of paperbacks. Paperbacks can be the preferred medium when a book is not expected to be a major seller or where the publisher wishes to release a book without putting forth a large investment. Examples include many novels and newer editions or reprintings of older books. Since paperbacks tend to have a smaller
profit margin Profit margin, net margin, net profit margin or net profit ratio is a measure of profitability An economic profit is the difference between the revenue a commerce , commercial entity has received from its outputs and the opportunity costs of its ...
, many publishers try to balance the profit to be made by selling fewer hardcovers against the potential profit to be made by selling more paperbacks with a smaller profit per unit. First editions of many modern books, especially
genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determine ...
, are issued in paperback. Best-selling books, on the other hand, may maintain sales in hardcover for an extended period to reap the greater profits that the hardcovers provide.


History

The early 19th century saw numerous improvements in the printing, publishing and book-distribution processes, with the introduction of steam-powered printing presses, pulp mills, automatic type setting, and a network of railways. These innovations enabled the likes of Simms and McIntyre of Belfast, Routledge & Sons (founded in 1836) and Ward & Lock (founded in 1854) to mass-produce cheap uniform yellowback or paperback editions of existing works, and distribute and sell them across the
British Isles The British Isles are a in the North off the north-western coast of , consisting of the islands of , , the , the and over six thousand smaller islands."British Isles", ' They have a total area of and a combined population of almost 72&nb ...

British Isles
, principally via the ubiquitous
W. H. Smith & Sons
W. H. Smith & Sons
newsagent found at most urban British railway stations. These paper bound volumes were offered for sale at a fraction of the historical cost of a book, and were of a smaller format, , aimed at the railway traveller. The Routledge's Railway Library series of paperbacks remained in print until 1898, and offered the traveling public 1,277 unique titles. The German-language market also supported examples of cheap paper-bound books: Bernhard
Tauchnitz Tauchnitz was the name of a family of German printers and publishers. They published English language literature for distribution on the European continent outside Great Britain, including initial serial publications of novels by Charles Dickens. T ...

Tauchnitz
started the Collection of British and American Authors in 1841. These inexpensive, paperbound editions, a direct precursor to mass-market paperbacks, eventually ran to over 5,000 volumes.
Reclam Reclam Verlag is a Germany, German publishing house, established in Leipzig in 1828 by Anton Philipp Reclam (1807–1896).Albatross Books Albatross Books was a German publishing house based in Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central European Time, Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central Europ ...
revised the 20th-century mass-market paperback format in 1931, but the approach of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
cut the experiment short. It proved an immediate financial success in the United Kingdom in 1935 when
Penguin Books Penguin Books was originally a British . It was co-founded in 1935 by with his brothers Richard and John, as a line of the publishers , only becoming a separate company the following year.
adopted many of Albatross's innovations, including a conspicuous logo and color-coded covers for different genres. British publisher
Allen Lane Sir Allen Lane (born Allen Lane Williams; 21 September 1902 – 7 July 1970) was a British publisher Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for f ...

Allen Lane
invested his own financial capital to launch the Penguin Books imprint in 1935, initiating the paperback revolution in the English-language book market by releasing ten reprint titles. The first released book on Penguin's 1935 list was
André Maurois André Maurois (; born Émile Salomon Wilhelm Herzog; 26 July 1885 – 9 October 1967) was a French author. Biography Maurois was born on 26 July 1885 in Elbeuf and educated at the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen Rouen (, ; or ) is a cit ...
' ''Ariel''. Lane intended to produce inexpensive books. He purchased paperback rights from publishers, ordered large print runs (such as 20,000 copies—large for the time) to keep
unit price A product's average price is the result of dividing the product's total sales revenue by the total units sold. When one product is sold in variants, such as bottle sizes, managers must define "comparable" units. Average prices can be calculated by ...
s low, and looked to non-traditional book-selling retail locations. Booksellers were initially reluctant to buy his books, but when
Woolworths Woolworth, Woolworth's, or Woolworths may refer to: Businesses * F. W. Woolworth Company, the original US-based chain of "five and dime" (5¢ and 10¢) stores * Woolworths Group, former operator of the Woolworths chain of shops in the UK, ceased ...
placed a large order, the books sold extremely well. After that initial success, booksellers showed more willingness to stock paperbacks, and the name "Penguin" became closely associated with the word "paperback". In 1939, Robert de Graaf issued a similar line in the United States, partnering with
Simon & Schuster Simon & Schuster () is an American publishing company and a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. It was founded in New York City on January 2, 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. As of 2016, Simon & Schuster was the third largest publisher in t ...

Simon & Schuster
to create the
Pocket Books Pocket Books is a division of Simon & Schuster Simon & Schuster () is an American publishing company and a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. It was founded in New York City on January 2, 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. As of 2016, Si ...
label. The term "pocket book" became synonymous with paperback in English-speaking North America. In French, the term ''livre de poche'' was used and is still in use today. De Graaf, like Lane, negotiated paperback rights from other publishers, and produced many runs. His practices contrasted with those of Lane by his adoption of illustrated covers aimed at the North American market. To reach an even broader market than Lane, he used distribution networks of newspapers and magazines, which had a lengthy history of being aimed (in format and distribution) at mass audiences. Because of its number-one position in what became a very long list of pocket editions, James Hilton's ''
Lost Horizon ''Lost Horizon'' is a 1933 novel by English writer James Hilton. The book was turned into a film, also called '' Lost Horizon'', in 1937 by director Frank Capra. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery ...
'' is often cited as the first American paperback book. However, the first mass-market, pocket-sized, paperback book printed in the U.S. was an edition of
Pearl Buck Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973) also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu () was an American writer and novelist. As the daughter of missionaries, Buck spent most of her life before 1934 in Zhenjiang, China C ...

Pearl Buck
's ''
The Good Earth ''The Good Earth'' is a historical fiction Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is commonly used as a synonym for the historical novel, it can also be applie ...
'', produced by Pocket Books as a proof-of-concept in late 1938, and sold in New York City. In World War II, the U.S. military distributed some 122 million "
Armed Services Editions Armed Services Editions (ASEs) were small paperback books of fiction and nonfiction that were distributed in the American military during World War II. From 1943 to 1947, some 122 million copies of more than 1,300 ASE titles were distributed to se ...
" paperback novels to the troops, which helped popularize the format after the war. Through the circulation of the paperback in kiosks and bookstores, scientific and intellectual knowledge was able to reach the masses. This occurred at the same time that the masses were starting to attend university, leading to the student revolts of 1968 prompting open access to knowledge. The paperback book meant that more people were able to openly and easily access knowledge and this led to people wanting more and more of it. This accessibility posed a threat to the wealthy by imposing that it would be turned upside down, as the masses were now able to access almost all of the knowledge the wealthy previously had access to. Treating the paperback as any other book drastically weakened the distinction between high and low culture. The paperback revolution essentially broke this relationship by redefining it through access to knowledge.


Paperback originals

In the United States, many companies entered the paperback publishing field in the years after Pocket Books' inception, including
Ace An ace is a playing card A playing card is a piece of specially prepared card stock 250px, Card stock for craft use comes in a wide variety of textures and colors. Card stock, also called cover stock and pasteboard, is paper that is thi ...
,
Dell Dell is an American company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objecti ...
,
Bantam Bantam or Bantams may refer to: * Bantam (poultry), any small variety of fowl, usually of chicken or duck Businesses * Bantam Books, an American publishing house * Bantam Cider, an American cider company * Bantam Press, a British publishing impri ...
, Avon and dozens of other smaller publishers. At first, paperbacks consisted entirely of reprints, but in 1950,
Fawcett Publications Fawcett Publications was an American publishing company founded in 1919 in Robbinsdale, Minnesota by Wilford Hamilton "Captain Billy" Fawcett (1885–1940). It kicked off with the publication of the bawdy humor magazine ''Captain Billy's Whiz B ...
'
Gold Medal Books Gold Medal Books, launched by Fawcett Publications in 1950, was an American book publisher known for introducing paperback originals, a publishing innovation at the time. Fawcett was also an independent newsstand distributor, and in 1949 the c ...
began publishing original works in paperback. Fawcett was also an independent distributor, and in 1945, the company negotiated a contract with
New American Library The New American Library (also known as NAL) is an American publisher Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers ...
to distribute their Mentor and Signet titles. That contract prohibited Fawcett from becoming a competitor by publishing their own paperback reprints. Roscoe Kent Fawcett wanted to establish a line of Fawcett paperbacks, and he felt original works would not be a violation of the contract. To challenge the contract, Fawcett published two anthologies—''The Best of
True True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things that aim to represent reality or otherw ...
Magazine'' and ''What Today's Woman Should Know About Marriage and Sex''—reprinting material from Fawcett magazines not previously published in books. When these books were successfully published, he announced Gold Medal Books, a line of paperback originals. Sales soared, prompting Gold Medal editorial director Ralph Daigh to comment, "In the past six months we have produced 9,020,645 books, and people seem to like them very well." However, hardcover publishers resented Roscoe Fawcett's innovation, as evidenced by Doubleday's LeBaron R. Barker, who claimed that paperback originals could "undermine the whole structure of publishing." Genre categories began to emerge, and mass-market book covers reflected those categories. Mass-market paperbacks influenced slick and
pulp magazines Pulp magazines (often referred to as "the pulps") were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the late 1950s. The term "pulp" derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. In contrast, magazi ...
. The market for cheap magazines diminished when buyers began to buy cheap books instead. Authors also found themselves abandoning magazines and writing for the paperback market. The leading paperback publishers often hired experienced pulp magazine cover artists, including
Rudolph Belarski Rudolph Belarski (May 27, 1900 – December 24, 1983) was an American graphic artist known for his cover art depicting aerial combat for magazines such as ''Wings'', ''Dare Devil Aces'', and ''War Birds''. He also drew science fiction covers for '' ...
and Earle K. Bergey, who helped create the look and feel of paperbacks and set an appealing visual standard that continues to this day. Scores of well-known authors were published in paperback, including
Arthur Miller Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist in the 20th-century American theater. Among his most popular plays are ''All My Sons ''All My Sons'' is a three-act play written in 194 ...
and
John Steinbeck John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (; February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American author and the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature winner "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social ...

John Steinbeck
.
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
brought both new technology and a wide readership of men and women now in the military or employed as shift workers; paperbacks were cheap, readily available, and easily carried. Furthermore, people found that restrictions on travel gave them time to read more paperbacks.
Four-color printing The CMYK color model (also known as process color, or four color) is a subtractive color model A color model is an abstract mathematical model describing the way colors can be represented as tuples of numbers, typically as three or four ...
and
lamination 250px, Laminate flooring Lamination is the technique/process of manufacturing a Raw material, material in multiple layers, so that the composite material achieves improved strength of materials, strength, stability, sound insulation, visual ...

lamination
developed for military maps made the paperback cover eye catching and kept ink from running as people handled the book. A revolving metal rack, designed to display a wide variety of paperbacks in a small space, found its way into
drugstore A pharmacy (also called "drugstore" in American English or "community pharmacy" or "chemist" in Commonwealth English, or rarely, apothecary) is a retail shop which provides pharmaceutical drugs, among other products. At the pharmacy, a pharmacist ...

drugstore
s, dimestores, and markets. Soldiers received millions of paperback books in
Armed Services Editions Armed Services Editions (ASEs) were small paperback books of fiction and nonfiction that were distributed in the American military during World War II. From 1943 to 1947, some 122 million copies of more than 1,300 ASE titles were distributed to se ...
. U.S. paperbacks quickly entered the Canadian market. Canadian mass-market paperback initiatives in the 1940s included White Circle Books, a subsidiary of Collins (U.K.); it was fairly successful but was soon outstripped by the success of
Harlequin Harlequin (; it, Arlecchino ) is the best-known of the '' zanni'' or comic servant characters from the Italian ''commedia dell'arte (, , ; meaning "comedy of the profession") was an early form of professional theatre, originating from Italy ...
which began in 1949 and, after a few years of publishing undistinguished novels, focused on the romance genre and became one of the world's largest publishers.
McClelland and Stewart McClelland & Stewart Limited is a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or all) of these connecti ...
entered the Canadian mass-market book trade in the early 1960s, with its "Canadian best seller library" series, at a time when Canadian literary culture was beginning to be popularized, and a call for a Canadian author identity was discussed by the Canadian people.


Types


Mass-market

A mass-market paperback is a small, usually non-illustrated, inexpensive
bookbinding Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines ...
format. This includes the U.K. A-format books of and the U.S. "pocketbook" format books of a similar size. They have been historically printed on relatively low-quality paper. They are commonly released after the
hardback thumbnail, 200px, A typical hardcover book (1899), showing the wear signs of a cloth cover over the hard paperboards A hardcover, hard cover, or hardback (also known as hardbound, and sometimes as case-bound) book A book is a medium for recor ...
edition and often sold in non-traditional bookselling locations such as
airport An airport is an with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to park and maintain aircraft, and a . An airport consists of a , which comprises an aerially accessible open space including a ...
s,
drugstore A pharmacy (also called "drugstore" in American English or "community pharmacy" or "chemist" in Commonwealth English, or rarely, apothecary) is a retail shop which provides pharmaceutical drugs, among other products. At the pharmacy, a pharmacist ...
s, and supermarkets, as well as in traditional
bookstore Bookselling is the commercial trading of book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often num ...

bookstore
s. In 1982,
romance novel A romance novel or romantic novel generally refers to a type of genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary gen ...
s accounted for at least 25% of all paperback sales. In 2013, 51% of paperback sales were romance. Many titles, especially in genre fiction, have their
first edition The bibliographical definition of an edition includes all copies of a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and ...

first edition
s in paperback and never receive a hardcover printing. This is particularly true of first novels by new authors. The mass-market paperbacks sold in airport s have given rise to the vaguely defined literary genre of the "
airport novel Airport novel(s) represent a literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, setting tone, tone, Content (media), content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length. They ...
", bought by travelers to read during their potentially long hours of sitting and waiting. Mass-market paperbacks also have offered collections of comic strips and magazine cartoon series, such as
Ernie Bushmiller Ernest Paul "Ernie" Bushmiller Jr. (August 23, 1905 – August 15, 1982) was an American cartoonist, best known for creating the daily comic strip A comic strip is a sequence of drawings, often cartoon A cartoon is a type of illustrati ...
's ''
Nancy Nancy may refer to: Places France * Nancy, France, a city in the northeastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle and formerly the capital of the duchy of Lorraine ** Arrondissement of Nancy, surrounding and including the city of Nancy * ...
'' and
Chon Day Chauncey Addison Day, better known as Chon Day, (April 6, 1907 – Jan 1, 2000)https://www.lambiek.net/artists/d/day_chon.htm was an American cartoonist whose cartoons appeared in ''The New Yorker ''The New Yorker'' is an American weekly magaz ...
's ''
Brother SebastianBrother Sebastian was an American pantomime comics, pantomime gag cartoon series, created by Chon Day. It ran from 1954 until 1971 in ''Look (American magazine), Look''. The cartoons center on a spectacled Roman Catholic monk. All cartoons are one-p ...
.''


B-format

The term B-format indicates a medium-sized paperback of . This size has been used to distinguish literary novels from
genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determine ...
. In the U.S., books of this size are thought of as smaller trade paperbacks (see below).


Trade

A trade paperback, sometimes referred to as a "trade paper edition" or just as a "trade", is a higher-quality paperback book. If it is a softcover edition of a previous hardcover edition, and if published by the same publishing house as the hardcover, the text pages are normally identical to the text pages in the hardcover edition, and the book is close to the same size as the hardcover edition. Significantly, the pagination is the same so that references to the text will be unchanged: this is particularly important for reviewers and scholars. The only difference is the soft binding; the paper is usually of higher quality than that of a
mass-market paperback A paperback, also known as a softcover or softback, is a type of book characterized by a thick paper or paperboard cover, and often held together with adhesive, glue rather than stitch (textile arts), stitches or Staple (fastener), staples. In c ...
, for example
acid-free paper The acid-free-paper symbol. Acid-free paper is paper that if infused in water yields a neutral or basic (chemistry), basic pH (7 or slightly greater). It can be made from any cellulose fiber as long as the active acid pulp is eliminated during pr ...

acid-free paper
. In the U.S., the term trade paperback also encompasses the medium-sized paperbacks described as B-format, above. British trade paperbacks are .


Trade comics

Trade paperbacks are often used to reprint several issues of a
comic a medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), tools used to store and deliver information or d ...
series in one volume, usually an important storyline or the entire series itself, and the name "trade paperback" has become synonymous with a collection of reprinted material.
Graphic novel A graphic novel is a book made up of comics a medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), t ...

Graphic novel
s may also be printed in trade paperback form. Publishers sometimes release popular collections first in a hardback form, followed by a trade paperback months later. Examples include
Marvel Comics Marvel Comics is the brand name and primary imprint of Marvel Worldwide Inc., formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, a publisher of American comic books and related media. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company The Walt D ...
' '' Secret War'' and
DC Comics DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of DC Entertainment DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship unit of #DC Entertainment, DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Warner Bros. ...
' ''
Watchmen ''Watchmen'' is an American comic book Limited series (comics), maxiseries by the British creative team of writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins (comics), John Higgins. It was published monthly by DC Comics in 1986 an ...

Watchmen
'' among many others.


Major publishers


See also

*
Book size The size of a book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, ...
*
Bunkobon In Japan, are small-format paperback A paperback, also known as a softcover or softback, is a type of book characterized by a thick paper or paperboard cover, and often held together with adhesive, glue rather than stitch (textile arts), s ...
* George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection *
Hardcover A hardcover, hard cover, or hardback (also known as hardbound, and sometimes as case-bound) book is one bookbinding, bound with rigid protective covers (typically of binder's board or heavy paperboard covered with buckram or other cloth, heavy pa ...


References


Further reading

* Canja, Jeff (2002). ''Collectible Paperback Books, Second Edition'', East Lansing, MI: Glenmoor Publishing. . * Davis, Kenneth C. ''Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking of America'' (Macmillan, 1984). * Hancer, Kevin (1990). ''Hancer's Price Guide to Paperback Books, Third Edition'', Radnor, Pennsylvania: Wallace-Homestead Book Company. .


External links


How to make a paperback book by hand

Glue Bound Book tutorial


New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publicatio ...

New York Times
article about paperback originals
paperback book development stages
{{Authority control Book formats Book publishing Book terminology