Yet Another Funky Book Size

We’ve seen the Venti and the Grande – now alert reader Ana in Spain has sent me yet another funky book size. This one totally fascinates me.

As Ana writes, “The one in the picture… is a 2 books in 1, and you read them horizontally. You probably already know them, because Spain is always the last place to get this kind of “new” stuff, but anyway, I think they’re really original.”

Horizontally? What? YES. Have a look.


Whoa! Isn’t that interesting? I asked Ana about them, specifically whether they were comfortable to hold, and she told me that she hasn’t purchased one yet:

I haven’t bought any, since they cost 9 Euros average, and all the titles published so far I have already read. However they look really nice, and they’re not heavy at all, so as soon as there is an interesting one I’ll buy it rather than the old format.

I tried reading a few pages and it was really comfortable, especially because you can hold them with one hand and it’s so light that you don’t get ¿cramps? (agujetas)
Next time I go to the shop I’ll try to get a picture of one open, so you can see how it looks.

Wow, I can’t believe Spain is innovative for once! 😉

9 Euro is about $12.60 USD, which is pretty steep, though not bad for two books in one. Muchas gracias for the picture, Ana!

What do you think? Would you try a 2-in-1 onmibus laid out like that? I’ve never seen one for sale in the US, myself. The omnibus editions I’ve seen are HUGE and not friendly to one-handed readers (that always sounds so naughty, and I so don’t mean it to!) in the least. But with the increase in bundled ebooks, I’m wondering if more print bundles of backlist titles will start appearing – and if we’ll see the Spanish Horizontal paperback in the US? (That also sounds naughty, and I totally meant it that way. Spain is muy sexy!)


Random Musings

Comments are Closed

  1. Daisy says:

    I have seen books like that here in The Netherlands, and handled them: they do look surprisingly efficient and comfortable, handy for reading during a commute for example.  However, not for me, for two reasons:  the typeface is too small for me to read without reading glasses, so not so handy, and all the books I’ve seen so far have been in Dutch (well, duh) and that’s not so handy for me either.  :-/

  2. tracykitn says:

    I read horizontally on my Sony Reader all the time—it makes the letters just a teeny bit larger without f*&%ing with the layout the way zooming does and it’s easier for one-handed reading (you’re right,  sounds naughty) and for reaching the page-turn buttons (mine’s a Touch, but not the newest, and somehow *that* sounds naughty, too, or maybe it’s just what I read that makes it seem that way…).

    But it seems like for physical books it would be…well, at best, difficult to adjust to; you’d have to get used to holding the spine at a different angle. Hmmm. Weird when I try it on one of my books at home, but maybe less weird if the print were cooperating? I’d give it a shot, at least.

  3. LG says:

    I was given something like this to catalog for my library – a copy of Wuthering Heights bound horizontally. They were called “bed books” – meant to be read while curled up in bed.

  4. Cät von J says:

    Nothing like that in Germany so far.
    I don´t see how reading like that can be comfortable…But I´ll try if chances arise…you got to keep up with the times, don´t you? 🙂

  5. tracykitn says:

    I just googled “bed books” and came up with this site: Bedbooks

    They allow you to print a sample page. Interesting…

  6. LG says:

    Opinions at my library were divided about this kind of book. Some people thought that it would be really comfortable, some people thought not, and some people were just put off by the fact that they would have to get used to holding the book in a different way. Since the “bed book” Wuthering Heights would have been our only non-crumbling copy, and since our Acquisitions Librarian had not expected this kind of binding, she sent it back and got something else – the decision was that traditional binding was less likely to throw people off.

    I haven’t heard from anyone who’s actually read a book bound like this. I, personally, would prefer something bound vertically.

  7. Carin says:

    Thanks, LG, for the bedbooks link.  I couldn’t picture how the book was laid out or what “reading horizontally” meant.

    Now I can see how it might work in bed, but what if you’re just sitting in a chair?  We really need to hear from someone who has read a book bound like this!

  8. Hannah says:

    It seems like turning pages would be awkward with the horizontal format, doesn’t it?

  9. Saskia says:

    When I was very small, my grandmother had some picture books from her own childhood bound this way that she used to read to me.  They were in Russian though, and mostly about dragons if I remember correctly, although there was definitely one about a dog.  So these don’t seem that weird to me, aside from the lack of dragon related pictures.  And the fact that they’re not in Russian.  And not like 75 years old or from some tiny Russian publisher where it was entirely possible they were bound sideways by mistake and nobody was ambitious enough to correct the error.

    Aside from all that, totally normal.

  10. Chicklet says:

    Maybe I’m behind the times, but the market for “books that are comfortable to read while you’re lying in bed” seems pretty narrow. I mean, yes, I do read in bed, but I don’t do *all* of my reading there. This format seems like it would be awkward to hold open with one hand while standing on the train, which is where I do a lot of my reading. And having the text in two columns makes sense—reading a block of text that wide would be difficult—but seems more like a newspaper than a novel.

  11. Suzy says:

    They are called Flipbacks in English… and apparently, they were started by a publisher in the Netherlands using “bible” paper… uber thin paper. They are being introduced in the US soon.

    There was a discussion at about them. just search talk for flipbooks.

    and, yes, I want one… or more.

  12. LG says:

    @Suzy – Thanks for the info. I’m wondering if the difference between the flipback and the bedbooks is softcover (and smaller/lighter) vs. hardcover. The bedbook I dealt with was hardcover and seemed fairly awkward – I don’t think it would have made for comfortable one-handed reading for very long. The flipbacks look like they might be less awkward. That said, I still probably wouldn’t want one.

    What’s your general reading style/environment like that makes you excited about these coming to the US? Also, if they cost more would you pay more for them? Just curious – I’ll be taking a look at the LibraryThing discussion you mentioned later, just in case something like these comes across my desk. When I got the bedbook, I thought for sure it was a publisher error. Goodness knows we’ve seen everything else. Books bound upside down and backwards, a book with perfect binding that hid the fact that it was missing the last 50 pages, books with uncut pages. At least it looks like, with the flipbacks, the cover makes it clear that the horizontal binding was done on purpose.

  13. Carin says:

    I wonder how flipbacks and bedbooks compare to the book in the original post.  I can see the flipback being very easy to read – single book, superthin paper.  But a double length book?  I’d think that would get heavy.  And can you turn a page with one hand?

    The flipbooks page mentioned something about making it portable, like a phone.  That only made me think – why not read on your phone?  I must not be the target audience.

  14. SB Sarah says:

    I am fascinated by Flipbackbooks. If I see them in the stores I’m so buying one to try it out. Thank you for the link, Suzy.

  15. AgTigress says:

    Well, as someone who reads more non-fiction than fiction, this hardly seems at all new or surprising to me. 
    Landscape format books are common enough in illustrated volumes, and may also have a high proportion of text-only pages.  A small landscape format (say about 27 x 22 cm / 10½” x 8½”, which happens to be the first example I picked up from the shelves behind my computer chair) can be a bit of a pain to shelve, and biggish landscape-format (e.g. 18” x 12”) can be a real problem, but then outsize books need special treatment even when they are portrait-format.  As far as handling and reading are concerned, I really don’t see any problem at all with a small landscape-format book.

  16. Vinobaby says:

    Intriguing.  I’d be willing to give them a try.  I am just thrilled to actually see books in print on paper instead of a reader.

  17. LG says:

    @AgTigress – But do the landscape books you’re talking about have the spine on the long side of the book or the short side? I thought landscape format books had them on the short side.

  18. CrankyAmy says:

    I don’t understand why this is some new “awesome” thing.  You could make books with type in the same direction a lot smaller if you used the extra-thin paper.  And I read almost exclusively in bed, and can see how a hardback may be better as a bedbook, but I don’t have issues with paperbacks at all.  The whole thing just befuddles me.

  19. Lynn S. says:

    Please, no!

  20. Suzy says:

    The books are described as being a touch larger than an iphone… but with the extra thin paper (think almost onion skin paper) they are lighter & smaller than a regular paperback. Also, they can lay flat.

    Why am I excited by them? Sometimes even paperbacks are too large to carry around. I tried reading on a palm pilot a number of years ago & I did not like the small pages set vertical. My reading style needs a longer line. I’d rather turn pages more frequently than short lines and short pages. From what I understand, in the flipback, the two pages are about the size of one page in a MMP, but don’t quote me.

    The downsides I see with this format of books is longevity due to the paper inside the covers. They may not be designed for heavy use or for those who write in books. Bible paper is notorious for highlight bleed-throughs. The thin-ness of the paper may lead to pages tearing.. Beyond those two points, I think they will be fine.

    I can also see these books being sold at airports & travel locations. They take up less shelf space, which is at a premium in those locations. People may see them as a quick pick to read while traveling since they can be held in one hand.

    I just wonder how people will look at seeing another book format… will it be too different to catch on?? Those who have used them seem to like them, but those are dedicated book lovers who read no matter what the circumstances. What about the casual reader??

  21. Kristina says:

    Sorry but that does NOT look comfortable to me.  I keep seeing the top pages flopping over all the time and pissing me off or massive thumb cramps as I try to hold the top of the book open instead of just propping my thumb in between the pages to keep over.

    Gah!  I guess I’m just not a creature of change.  Looks awkward to me.

  22. AgTigress says:


    I thought landscape format books had them on the short side.

    Oh, the spine is normally, though not invariably, to the left, not at the top.  But I don’t see this as particularly significant, to be honest.  The layout of the page (and especially the length of lines) matters much more than the way the book opens, and with a large-format landscape book, it is usual to have columns, which create their own variables, because slow readers find short lines easier to read, and fast readers do better with quite long lines.
    But the format in question here is small anyway, so is easy to handle and probably fairly fast to read, as long as the point size, leading and margins are okay.  I’d be very happy to try them out. 
    The whole concept of the codex, the BOOK, is so terrific, as it has been for the couple of millennia ever since its invention.  It was a big improvement on the scroll, which preceded it.  Like Vinobaby, above, I think it is great to see some new ideas in the physical construction and configuration of an actual printed paper book. 
    I am not opposed to e-readers at all, because I think there is room for many different ways of presenting text, maybe even scrolls:  each and every one might fit some readers, and some circumstances, to perfection, and the important thing is that there should be a wide choice.
    On the topic of a lot of book in a small space, I have a copy of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) which was an official issue to British RAF (Royal Air Force) servicemen in the Second World War. It belonged to my late father.  It is printed (by OUP) on very thin paper, 1027 pages, pretty small but easily readable point size, and its overall dimensions, including the binding, are 5” x 3¼” by ½” thick.

  23. Sharon says:

    The small flipbooks are intriguing, but really only from a novelty perspective (for me, anyway). If they’re cheap enough, I guess you could consider them disposables (or recyclables).

    A larger, hardcover book with the spine running along the top? I can’t imagine how this is more comfortable either in bed or out. I suppose if it was ring-bound it could be easier, but not as pictured, unless I’m missing something—is there a ring binding underneath the cover?

    As for the taller paperbacks, they’ve been around for at least two years—we have a few Lee Childs in that format dating back to our NY >> CA relo in 2009. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a Lee Child anywhere but an airport, so perhaps it was originally designed to fit those wall racks typically found in airport bookstores?

    Wider paperbacks? Odd. Just…odd. That would be a pain and would take up far too much room in a handbag.

    All these alternate bindings! Doesn’t the publishing industry have enough on their hands sorting out traditional and e publishing going forward without these distractions?

  24. AgTigress says:


    They are called Flipbacks in English

    I looked at the list of titles currently available.  Pretty eclectic, but one non-fiction title particularly caught my eye — Melvyn Bragg’s The Adventure of English (2003), which is a very sound and highly readable history of the evolution of the language.  Just saying, in case anyone is interested…

  25. Gillian says:

    Hold on a second – that’s expensive???? Most books here are over $20, although you might pick up something at Kmart for $10 if you’re lucky. (Not counting remaindered books ‘cause you can rarely find what you want there).

    How much would your average Johanna Lindsay cost in the US?

  26. LG says:

    @Gillian – $7.99, usually, unless you find it discounted somewhere (Walmart, for instance). That’s of course assuming you’re buying a new mass market paperback. I’m not sure what a 2-in-1 edition would cost.

  27. AgTigress says:

    @Gillian:  books, like petrol, are pretty cheap in the USA, which is why we unkind persons from other countries are so unsympathetic when Americans whinge about high prices!

  28. Ann G says:

    I would rather read on my e-reader than a flipback book.

  29. Like Anna G, prefer e-reader to flip/bed-book thing. I do most of my reading in bed, and since I read between 100-150 books a year, format clearly doesn’t bother me much. If there was a book I couldn’t get in any other format, I might buy a flipbook, but basically if I want a hard copy, I’ll buy a standard paperback, otherwise, it’s the ipad for me. Love reading on my ipad. All romance reading is now done e-wise. downloads are fast, the books don’t take up space and nobody gives me earache about my reading choices.

  30. Chelsea says:

    This doesn’t look like a size I would want. I’m a multi-tasker and I like to be able to hold my book in one hand. I don’t see that going well with these horizontal books.

  31. Not sure how comfortable the book would be, but the other book in the photo, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, is a great book in any format.

    lived95 – books have lived through 95 different formats and will probably live through 95 more.

  32. Laura-F says:

    YES – re: books being cheaper in America! I was shocked when I found out how expensive books are here (England) in comparison. Maybe I should move 🙂
    I shall have to try one of these flipbooks if I ever come across one. Can’t imagine finding it too comfortable to hold but then I thought that about Kindle before I got one.

  33. Lisa says:

    Books are ridiculously cheaper in the US, and if you go to a UBS it’s even more so. When I visit the US I stock up and fill an entire Post Office flat rate box with paperbacks. It ships anywhere in the world for $40 as long as you keep it under 20 kg, and I can get more than 25 paperback books in there. So I buy a book at US UBS price (often $2 but no more than $4) and then add <$2 a book for shipping and I’m stocked for a while at less than $6 a book!

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