What Is Paperback Fiction?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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Paperback fiction is any type of book with a soft cover and glued binding that contains a fictional story. Novels are very often printed as paperback fiction to keep costs to the consumer down, thereby encouraging more sales. Traditionally, a fiction novel would initially be published as a hardcover book with a sewn or stapled binding, and subsequent editions of the book would be published as a paperback. The paperback version would cost less than the hardcover version, though the type was usually the same size. The paper size and quality was often equivalent as well.

More modern methods of publishing sometimes eschew the hardcover version altogether, and the paperback fiction novel is used for the primary release of the fictional work. Trade paperback fiction books are softcover books with a paper or paperboard cover, and the pages are usually a high-quality paper with high-quality typeset. It is essentially the same as a hardcover book, except without the hardcover. Changing trends in book purchasing have necessitated lower cost manufacturing options, which is why hardcover books, which are expensive to produce and purchase, are avoided at times. Trade paperbacks are considered high-end enough for an initial publication run but inexpensive enough to be viable for the consumer.


Mass market paperback fiction is any type of fictional book that is sold as a smaller, less expensive paperback book. The paper on which the text is printed is usually of a lower quality than that of trade paperbacks, and the cover material might be inferior as well. The dimensions of the mass market paperback fiction book will also be much smaller than that of the trade paperback as well as of the hardcover book. This inexpensive book is usually reserved for genre fiction, books that have already gone through a publication run in hardcover or trade paperback, or less popular books offered by a publisher.

Many people prefer paperback fiction to hardcover fiction for several reasons, the most obvious of which is the smaller size and ease of transport. The books are, in fact, sometimes known as airport books because they are small, easy to tote around, and commonly found in airports for travelers who want a lightweight entertainment during flights. Even paperbacks, however, have seen a decline in sales since the advent of e-books and e-readers; these digital files can be downloaded to compact reading devices that are lightweight and easy to tote around.


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