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The Paperback Bites Back

Writing.ie | Resources | Getting Published | More Publishing Options

Vanessa O'Loughlin

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Biting at the heels of the eBook market, a new pocket-sized, ultra-light ”flipback” book has been released by Hodder. For readers who enjoy the feel of a printed novel and the portability of an e-book,  Flipback books measure 12 centimetres by 8 centimetres across the cover, and the heaviest so far – Stephen King’s Misery – weighs just 157 grams – a little more than an iPhone.

The format was invented in 2009 when a Dutchman, Hugo van Woerden, head of Christian printing house Jongbloed, was looking for ways to use excess Bible paper. He put the lightweight, high-quality onion skin paper into a series of miniature sideways books that can be read in the palm of one hand.

The books were an instant success, and Hodder, in what has been claimed as the paperback fight-back against eReaders, released 12 popular titles to shops this week. Despite their size, Flipback books cost slightly more to make than the familiar average-sized paperback book, partly because they are all maunfactured by one printer in the Netherlands, but also because they use high-quality paper and have a cloth binding on the spine.

Lightweight, landscape style books have been available in Japan for many years, but this is the first time a European audience will be able to access best selling titles in this quirky but infinately readable format. With sales of over one million already in Holland, Flipback books have been launched in France and Spain and deals are pending for Germany, Italy and Scandinavia.

Flipback reaches UK and Irish shores this week, when Hodder will treat us to a selection of 12 books. They cost £9.99, and will include David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Chris Cleave’s The Other Hand. Stephen King’s Misery and John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy also feature (see below for the complete listing)

Guardian journalist Patrick Kingsley recently road tested the Flipback – his verdict: Would it work with War and Peace? Unlikely. Is it the new Kindle? Obviously not. It can’t hold 1,500 books. But if you want something that doesn’t need recharging, and slips into your pocket as easily as a phone, the flipback is worth a try.

So what did the Irish Times think? They said: We’ve been amazed by new technology but if someone were now to invent the paperback for the first time it would surely impress; you can read it in the bath without electrocuting yourself or watching it die if you drop it in the water it doesn’t need recharging; you can flick open any page in half a second and see all the text straight away; and it fits in your pockets. Now there’s a new micro-paperback known as a Flipback, which is perfect for helping in the fight to keep luggage allowances beneath the surcharge zone.

And as the Guardian says:

‘If you’ve ever whined about how the Kindle, compact though it may be, doesn’t have the look or feel of a nice printed novel — put this in your pipe and read it: the newly invented “flipback” book… if you want something that doesn’t need recharging, and slips into your pocket as easily as a phone, this little beauty is worth a try.’

To give you an idea of the size, this is what the Flipback looks like in the hand:

Our thoughts at writing.ie? We love them! The joy of a real book but portable, and light, pretty much perfect – just don’t forget your glasses!

Flipbacks are already on sale in Ireland in many shops, including Easons, Dubray, Hodges Figgis, some Waterstones shops, O’Mahonys and the Book Centres and you can pick them up on Amazon If you’d like to find out move visit the Flipbacks Facebook page or www.flipbackbooks.com

flipback

About the author

(c) Vanessa O’Loughlin July 2011

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