A couple of weeks ago I was in London. Even though I am trying to switch to all digital for my reading, I can't visit London without stopping in at Foyle's, Waterstones, and some boutique bookstores. And I can't make it out without buying something that is printed. While I was in Waterstones I noticed a table with smaller books on it, along with a sign saying "Pocket Perfection."
And it reminded me of the fact that years ago, you could get almost any book in the mass market format. When I was in graduate school, I had a paperback copy of Erich Auerbach's Mimesis, which is a history of how reality is represented in European literature. (You should read it.) My paperback was the one on Princeton University Press. I think I got it because it was assigned in a class and it was the edition that the bookstore had ordered. It was in what was called "Trade Paperback" format, measuring perhaps some nine inches tall and six inches wide. It was a hefty book. A lot of pages, and with a few more books of that size, one's backpack would be heavy and pretty full. But one day I was browsing around in a used bookstore, and, amazingly, found this serious tome in a much smaller package. I was surprised. I had a lot of Penguins, Anchor Books, Tor, etc., in mass market size (typically 6.75" x 4.25"), but hadn't really seen a lot of academic books in that size. I decided to look more seriously at the shelves at the good secondhand bookstores, and it seems that in the 1960s, you could get pretty...Read more and comment . . .