There is – god help us all – “A revolutionary new book format”. It’s called Flipback, and its pages are printed horizontally. This means it also opens horizontally, making it somewhat less easy to hold. Books aren’t the format they are by chance and the reason that, over the centuries, a different format hasn’t usurped the familiar one is simple – there is no need for it.
So, first question – other than just because they can – why did they do this? It’s so books can be the same shape as a smartphone (I’ve got news for you, guys, it’s still the same shape as any other book, just smaller and hinged differently). This is what the website says :-
A revolutionary new book format, giving book lovers a real reading experience with the portability of a mobile phone. The flipback is a new kind of book, which opens top to bottom and has sideways-printed text, so you get a full length novel in little more than the size of an iPhone.
“A real reading experience” – “portability” – isn’t that exactly what books have always provided? And if you print a full-length novel in this format – Stephen King’s “Misery” is available, at 370 pages in paperback, it’s going to be thicker than a normal book. The only possible way you can get the whole novel into a smaller form-factor is to use more pages, plus either very thin paper and/or a smaller typeface. Either way, it’s inevitable that the result will be thicker than the paperback, which is exactly one inch.
This whole concept is a total crock – nothing more than a marketing gimmick by a industry desperate to boost sales (see previous post) – Flipback is an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton. If you click one of the many “Find out more” links, it takes you to the H&S website, where you get: Error: The server encountered an unexpected condition which prevented it from fulfilling the request. For two days now, at least.
Why is it a crock? Simple – you get exactly the same number of words on the page regardless of orientation. You can check this yourself in your word processor – just copy a full page of text into a landscape-format page – you might have to tweak the margins a tad, but it’ll fit, still leaving normal-sized margins all round, so they could simply have printed a conventionally-styled book, at the same size but, no matter which way it opens, the smaller format, as I said, means more pages.
There is no reason – other than the above mentioned desperation, and catering to novelty freaks – for this nonsense to exist. There is certainly no advantage to the reader, just hand-cramp from the unfamiliar format. If you doubt that format is inconvenient, hold a normal book sideways, and open, for 10 minutes – see how uncomfortable it gets.
This is most certainly not a book revolution – it’s nothing more than a shameless, and pointless, attempt to part the gullible from their money. The real revolution in books will come when they find an effective, durable and above all affordable, substitute for paper.
Oh, and if you want smartphone-sized books, surely the simplest solution is to install the appropriate Kindle mobile app and read them on the smartphone? Cheaper too, in all probability.