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Re: volume control

Historians of the book will recall that when paperbacks were first
introduced they were what later came to be called "mass market"
paperbacks, in smaller formats with smaller type. Later, around the
mid-1970s, "trade" paperbacks came to be introduced in a larger
format with larger type, priced higher than mass market paperbacks
but still lower than hardbacks. E-books do indeed render this
distinction anachronistic.

One trend that I personally find annoying as I get older is the
decreasing size of footnotes, especially in scholarly works. If there
is any incentive for us older folks in resorting to e-books, it's the
option of adjusting the size of the type on the page!

Sandy Thatcher

>A hidden reason for the appeal of the e-book fell into my hands
>last night from my own bookshelves:  volume bloat.  In 1966, I
>bought the standard Mentor paperback edition of Galbraith's
>Affluent Society and read away at it earnestly and mostly well.
>(Something of a period piece, it still has many merits, not least
>Galbraith's prose.)  That volume now sits on my shelf neighboring
>with many standard "trade" paperbacks of our time.  Without
>counting words, I got the best apples-to-apples comparison I
>could (same number of pages in hardcover edition, for the
>Galbraith had been reset for paper to get more words to the page)
>and found that the contemporary paperback takes up three times
>the cubic volume (Galbraith roughly 4x7x.5 vs. contempoary 8x5x1
>of the 1964 object :  volume ratio 2.85).  Bantam Aeneid in
>translation compared to today's Oxford World's Classics:  2/1
>ratio. This came to mind more precisely when I had the fleeting
>idea in a bookstore yesterday to buy a Nero Wolfe mystery for old
>time's sake, and found that they now come two to a volume in,
>yes, big clunky trades.  Next time you're packing your wheelie
>for a long trip and trying to squeeze in an extra paperback,
>remember that we've been deliberately making the p-volume less
>convenient and compact, to make it easier for competition to make
>us see how clunky it is.  Growth in the size of the physical
>object made it easier to give it a bulk and cover that would
>attract attention and readers in a bookstore -- no advantage at
>all when shopping at Amazon.
>Jim O'Donnell

Sanford G. Thatcher
8201 Edgewater Drive
Frisco, TX  75034-5514
e-mail: sandy.thatcher@alumni.princeton.edu
Phone: (214) 705-1939

"If a book is worth reading, it is worth buying."-John Ruskin (1865)

"The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people
who can write know anything."-Walter Bagehot (1853)