What is maximum mass and why it matters
Dear Max Mass:
People have wondered why you exist. They wonder if the outbreak of a beloved friend, the mass market, is not the beginning of the end for paperbacks. But I see you, and I hold you, and I love you. Hope you stick around so I have plenty of your size sets on my shelves, and give my poor hands and wrists a break from that crooked embrace your predecessor had on them.
And if you know what is right for you, you will keep your beautiful photography history; but can we go back to looking at beautiful people instead of beaches and barns? You know what, keep the barns.
But please, dear lord, don’t increase the price. Your species should stay below ten dollars for the sake of all your readers around the world. We love you for your accessibility, and we need you to stay that way.
~ Save Scratch ~
Wait, you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about.
~ Backspace ~
If you’re a romance reader – especially if you primarily or at least regularly read smaller, mainstream paperback books – you may have noticed that books have appeared in a new format over the past year or so. . It’s called several things: Mass Max, MMP Max, a boring paperback, a weird new paperback. Okay, the last two aren’t official, but I’ve certainly seen and heard people use them in reference to the new size, which is the same for the few editors who currently use them. It’s new (rather) and shocking and slightly baffling when you pick up a book from the store or library and realize it’s not the “right” size. But I have to tell you: with a few caveats, I LOVE THEM UNTIL DEATH.
What is a max mass?
This larger mass market size, currently used by various print shops under Kensington, Grand Central Publishing, Sourcebooks, Entangled and Harlequin, was introduced in 2020 as an alternative to the narrower mass market paperback. The 4.75 x 7 inch format (compared to the standard mass market 4.125 x 6.75 or 4.5 x 7 inch or otherwise 4 inch by 6.5 inch) was first introduced by Kensington in April 2020 for provide “a more comfortable reading experience, with more readable fonts and wider margins,” according to Publishers Weekly. Harlequin announced their downgrade a week later, and Grand Central, Sourcebooks, Entangled, and Avon (which appear to have started a very slow surge of titles this size) have not announced anything, just started releasing books. in this size. (Berkley, in a statement, noted that they were “looking at the mass max format […] to see up close what works best in the market for readers and retailers ”; so they’re going to stick with the classic mass market size for now.) I think some of us thought this might be a bit of an experiment, but if you go to a physical bookstore with a section romance, you will notice a significant number of them on the shelves. And on Amazon, at least, these books don’t have a different designation – they’re listed in the mass market paperback, just like their peers. So it would seem that for some editors, at least, it’s not just a max mass; it is the new mass market.
Yes, they are a bit more expensive thanks to the increase in both width and height, adding a bit more material to each book, but they are not as big or expensive as a commercial paperback. , which will usually be half. the price and size. On average, they cost around a dollar more than they would have been if they had been released to the mass market. So a book that would have sold last year at 7.99 is now at 8.99, and some go as high as 9.99. Hopefully, we won’t see an increase that leads to a popular and economical mass / mass market over $ 10 – something that would cost a lot of voracious readers dearly.
Why am I worried?
i will tell you why I worry about this change.
As someone with bad wrists and big hands, I can’t tell you how difficult it is to own a traditional mass market paperback. I suffered for my love of a genre that until recently was rarely published in anything other than this size, and I didn’t complain *. I found myself reading less and less of them, however, instead I looked for more commercial paperbacks when I took the print. But there were so many books that I was missing, and I thought about taking care of them so that I could read all kinds of wonderful books.
Instead, I got a Kindle Paperwhite.
(Well I had an iPad first, then an iPad mini, but they posed similar but different issues for my wrists and my hands – and my eyes – so I finally went ahead and j got a Kindle, which was lighter to hold and easier to carry around, down to her waist that fits all my pockets of leggings and lounge pants.)
Do you know what dimensions are almost exactly the same (and probably a little lighter) than a Kindle? One pocket book of max.
It won’t be exactly the same experience – a paperback at maximum mass isn’t backlit, so you can’t read it in the dark while your partner is sleeping. You cannot change the size of the text. There are still pages to turn and sides to keep open. But you don’t have to break your back to read to the limit, either – mass-market paperbacks have such limited parameters, sometimes you have to practically pull the pages out to get that last letter or sign. punctuation on the back. The max mass has wider margins and the text (from what I’ve read) isn’t all wrinkled. More quality printing all around. And the pages of the ones I’ve read have been thicker, smoother – they feel less single-use than some (some) traditional mass publisher markets.
And people have noticed it! I’m not saying everyone decried the change. The biggest negative response to any publisher was the one I can totally understand: why are you changing the size of my book in the middle of a series? Why are you changing the size of my book?
Why, indeed. Yes, the two sizes together look awesome on the shelf, especially if you are a repeller instead of an edger. Yes, the new size is screwing up with all those amazing book products that we need to wear or protect. I have no excuse for this. But I would take a size change in the middle of the series on a smaller mass market series, as the publisher is focusing on the different size for certain lines and prints.
It’s a tough sell because it changes the shape and size of a familiar format that has been relatively the same for decades. Some publishers have enlarged them by half an inch; maybe played with size and shape for a special edition. But no one has decided to go ahead with a new one-size-fits-all size this way, not since the pocket-sized boom. But I think it’s a step in the right direction, even just for my own selfish ability to buy and enjoy little paperbacks again.
Mass Max, you little engine that could – my hands, my eyes and my pockets thank you.
* This is a lie; I bitched all over my inability to keep paperbacks and missed or dropped good books because I couldn’t stay in the story. But I did not bemoan the actual existence of consumer paperbacks.