March 1-15, 2005 Edition


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Mass Market Format

New York, NY/02/16/05—At least three major publishers—Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Hyperion–are planning to offer a new mass market book format.

Challenged by sales slumps and a graying readership for the smaller books, publishers have decided to introduce a format that is a half-inch taller than the old mass market paperbacks (traditionally 4 1/8″ x 6 7/8″).

The idea is to make the books more readable for the over-40 population. The new paperbacks are a little bigger than the old mass market format and a little smaller than the “trade” paperback sizes, and will presumably feature larger type. Penguin’s new format, retailing at about $9.99, will cost about $2 more than the traditional mass market books, but will still be less expensive than trade paperbacks.

Mass market books, once sold only in grocery stores and Wal-Marts are now sold at major bookstore chains. Likewise, groceries and Wal-Marts have begun carrying some trade paperback and hardcover books, heating up the competition.

According to research by the Book Industry Study Group, annual mass market sales have declined from $600 million in 1999 to $535 million in 2004—a drop of $65 million.

Simon & Schuster and Hyperion haven’t announced a name for the new format, but Penguin is calling it’s new line “Penguin Premium.”