Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Are We Really This Stupid?

This is just a quick follow on to the previous post about the super-sized paperbacks. I went back to the bookstore to specifically check the bastardizations out. Out front in a prominent display was John Sandford's latest mass market release, a clear victim of this nonsense.

The book is only one inch taller than a standard mass market edition. Inside, it looked as though there was extra spacing between the lines in order to fill the pages. I don't recall the typesetting term for this but in the vernacular we would call this "padding." As in adding fluff in order to deceive the paying public into coughing up more dough for less value. Yes, the sticker price of these beasts is $9.99, two bucks more than the old standards.

But it gets better. Imprinted on the front cover is a button that says, "Designed for more comfortable reading."


Taller pages means more room per page. More room per page means more lines per page. All this means fewer pages per book, which should result in a volume that's less expensive to produce. Um, no. Two dollars more, please. Because this book has been designed for more comfortable reading.

I do think the taller books are cool. Check out John Irving's Piggy Sneed book for a hardcover in what I find a really nifty form factor. But don't engineer, design, implement, invoke, conjugate, fluctuate, or transmogrify something with the sole purpose of charging me more for the same thing. Don't forget, the content, the actual words contained therein, are no different than they would have been had the publisher printed them in the $7.99 edition.

Notice I didn't say "mass market." I don't care. I just want a book that's affordable. When you crank up the price I have to buy fewer books. Guess what? The ones I'll cut out are these obvious ripoffs. Sorry to John Sandford and all the other auctorial efforts that are victims of this nefarious scheme. Maybe I'll catch you on the remainder tables.


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