Why do romance books come in different sizes? Is there any advantage to buying a hardcover? And are readers getting the full story in the smaller book size?
Print Book Sizes
The most common size books found in romance fiction are hardcover, trade paperback and mass-market paperback.
A hardcover book format is usually reserved for a bestselling author with a large and loyal following. It is the most expensive print format for readers to buy but it’s also the most durable. The cover is not bendable and the paper is a higher quality. Many readers prefer hardcover because they feel the book is more comfortable to hold and the spacing of the printed text is easier to read.
The trade paperback is close to the size of a hardcover but it’s often half the price. Some online booksellers refer to it as simply “paperback”. The decision to print in trade has less to do with the author’s status and more to do with the story’s target audience. If the story is a trendy beach read or has a book club feel, it might be offered in trade size with an evocative cover. Some readers prefer this option because they like the look and feel of the larger book size and don’t want to pay hardcover prices.
The most frequently used print format in romance fiction is the mass-market paperback. The size is usually 4 inches by almost 7 inches. Readers will find this type of book stocked in bookstores, discount stores and supermarkets. While this format can cost significantly less than the hardcover and trade sizes, some readers don’t like reading a big story in a smaller format. They might find there’s not a lot of space between words, the print is smaller, or they have to crack the spine to hold the book comfortably.
Why are some books available in all sizes?
A book by megastar authors might eventually become available in all print sizes, but unfortunately for readers, this isn’t always a guarantee! A new release could be published in hardcover and then the next year it will be re-released in trade. The year after that, it will be republished in mass-market. The publishing house will do this if the book is part of a series and want to push all the books of the series.
Why are there different covers used for the same story?
The publisher might need to use different artwork on the cover for each format. Sometimes it’s because they’re rebranding the series or the author. Perhaps they’re trying to reach a different audience and testing it out with a short print run in trade. Other times it could be that the artwork doesn’t suit a smaller book cover size.
When a romance book is published again but in a different format, the story doesn’t change. Just the size.
Which print format should I buy?
If you are a die-hard print reader but you feel there’s just too much text on a book page, consider the trade or hardcover.
If you are collecting the books because it’s part of a series from your all-time favorite author, consider the trade or hardcover.
If the story is first published in mass-market paperback, it is extremely rare for the book to be reissued in trade or hardcover. Don’t wait for the bigger size and get the mass-market.