Publishing Forecast–Part 3

Janet Grant

. Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

In two recent posts, I looked at a couple of potential publishing trends. You can read the first one, regarding the rise in audiobooks, here. The second publishing forecast post, regarding book subscriptions, can be read here.

Today I want to prognosticate about still another way in which books will be delivered to readers starting on October 23.

The Tiny Book

The author John Green is about to make America aware of a book-format that’s existed in Europe for almost ten years. This month, four of Green’s books, including The Fault in Our Stars, will release as miniature books (three inches high) and designed to be read horizontally. A special hinge-type of spine results in the book remaining open to the page being read without requiring the reader to do any gymnastics. Essentially, the format is created so only one hand is required to read. The little book mimics a cellphone in terms of size and how the user interacts with it.

The Flipback version of John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” is about the size of a cellphone. (MUST CREDIT: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Julie Strauss-Gabel, president of Dutton Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers, didn’t know this format existed until a Dutch edition of one of Green’s novels came into her office in this startling shape. Called “flipbacks” or “Dwarsliggers,” (meaning “to lie crossways”), in The Netherlands, where they were developed, they can be cradled in the user’s hand. “The minute I picked it up,” Strauss-Gabel recounted, “I thought, ‘How do we not have these in this country?’ ”

John Green Becomes the Guinea Pig

When Green was asked if he would like to be the first author in the U.S. to release a mini-book, he readily agreed. “I haven’t seen a new book format that I thought was at all interesting,” Green says, “but I find this format really usable and super-portable. It only takes a second to get used to. I’m shocked by how readable they are.”

The Flipback version of John Green’s “Paper Towns” is read horizontally instead of vertically. (MUST CREDIT: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Strauss-Gabel intends to release many other titles in this chunky format in 2019. She believes readers will readily take to the portability and ease of reading.

You can read more about flipbacks here.

Does the idea of flipbacks appeal to you? Where might you find yourself reading that you don’t now?  Do you think they’ll catch on?


On October 23, Americans will be introduced to a new book format. Click to tweet.

Will the new format of tiny books make a big splash when they’re introduced this month? Click to tweet.

Publishing Trends

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

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