August 12, 2011

An Innovation in book formats

Take the thin strong paper traditionally used in Bibles, Dutch innovation, and the 21st century penchant for (and frustration with)  reading from  handheld electronic devices and you start to understand the popularity of  Flipbacks.  Flipbacks are small printed books, but flipped 90 degrees so that  you flip the page up rather than turn them from right to left.

The innovative format was launched in Holland in autumn 2009. The inventor—Jongbloed, a printer and publisher of Bibles—had a vast stock of very thin Bible paper and machines configured to non-traditional book formats. Jongbloed partnered with one of Holland's biggest publishers and did  extensive market research. There are now over 100 titles in Dutch and 1 million copies in print—(which is phenomenal when you think there are only 16 million people in the Netherlands!)

Flipbacks aren’t just a sideways version of the paperback novel and they're not just for short works. Each Flipback is a hardcover book sewn, glued and bound in such a way that it falls open fully without breaking the spine. In effect you are reading a normal paperback page that can fold in half. The very fine paper used means that the Flipback is far lighter than a paperback - 145g on average.

These these small-format hardback books were launched in the UK  this summer by the publisher Hodder & Stoughton. The first batch features titles by Stephen King, John le Carre and other popular fiction writers. No North American release has been announced yet.

Based on an article in LibraryThing: State of the Thing

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