The Self-Publishing Insider

Man casually reading a mass market paperback book while relaxing in his backyard.

Standard Paperback vs Mass Market Paperback

While the term “paperback” is commonly used to refer to any printed book without a hardcover, there exists a nuanced difference between “mass market paperbacks” and “standard paperbacks.” This blog aims to shed light on these distinctions, underlining the significance for authors, particularly those venturing into self-publishing. Understanding these subtleties can play a crucial role in shaping an author’s publishing strategy.

What is a standard paperback?

A standard paperback, or trade paperback, is a book without a rigid hard cover in sizes larger than 5 x 8 inches, with the most common size being 6 x 9 inches. Although the contents and narrative remain identical to a hardcover version of the same book, a standard paperback features a glossy or matte card stock cover with pages clamped and glued to the spine. This form of binding is called perfect binding. The paper used is high-quality and acid-free. Acid-free paper is made from cellulose fiber that has the acid pulp removed so it will not yellow or crumble over time. It can last more than 1000 years and is used in situations where art or documents require a longer life without becoming yellow or breaking down.  .

What is a mass market paperback?

A mass market paperback, or mass paperback, shares a couple similarities with a trade paperback. It too is perfect bound and features a soft cover. Mass paperbacks, however, are designed for cost-effectiveness and portability. These “pocket books” are characterized by smaller dimensions, typically around 4.5 x 7 inches, with tighter spacing of lines and words. When you think of a “beach read,” you are probably picturing a mass market paperback. The paper used is thinner and not acid-free, which keeps production costs down. They are not known for their durability or longevity. Mass paperbacks are commonly found in unconventional book-selling locations like airports, drugstores, and supermarkets.

Which format should I choose to print my book?

Mass market paperbacks are normally genre fiction—romance, sci-fi, or mystery books produced by traditional publishing companies—and are often produced after a book becomes a bestseller or for an established author with a proven sales track record. Bestsellers in the aforementioned genres are often produced in this mass format to allow the masses to buy it affordably—hence the name.

If you have a book that is outside of genre fiction or are new to publishing, a standard paperback it most likely for you.

At Publish Pros, our dedicated team understands that choosing the right book format is a crucial decision for authors, and they don’t have to make this choice alone. We take pride in simplifying the publishing process by providing expert guidance to authors, helping them determine the format that aligns best with their vision and goals. With a wealth of experience and industry knowledge, our team collaborates closely with authors to ensure their work is presented in the most effective and appealing manner. Whether it’s a standard paperback, mass market paperback or another format like ebook or hardback, we empower authors to make informed decisions. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your next book.