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Flipback books now in English

They’ve been increasing in popularity in The Netherlands for the better part of two years and now flipback books are making their way to English-speaking markets. These books are basically a new take on the paperback, except theoretically smaller and lighter.

The books open from top to bottom, use sideways printed text and employ the very thin paper which is commonly used for bibles, in order to produce books which are only slightly larger than a cassette tape or iPhone. They are still pretty new and as such only a handful of titles are available in English but (if they live up to the hype) could be ideal for traveling.

Search for Flipbacks on AbeBooks

Posted by on June 28, 2011.

Categories: AbeBooks, books, travel

7 Responses

  1. I like this form. It’s interesting b/c books don’t come out in this form much, and I like the small size and the way people in the video held them. Seem portable which is great! What’s the word count on these things? Are we talking novellas? Or can you do an entire novel in this?

    by Amy Timberlake on Jun 29, 2011 at 9:03 am

  2. I agree, I think these could be great for reading on the go, actually being able to slip a book into your pants pocket would be such a nice feature. As for size, I haven’t seen one in person but from the article they’re full novels.

    by slaming on Jun 29, 2011 at 10:41 am

  3. They’re definitely full, unabridged novels. Over the past two months, I’ve been running a series of posts about flipback books on my blog. In one installment, I interviewed the international marketing manager for Jongbloed BV, the Dutch company that created the format. He said there are talks going on about bringing the flipback to America.

    In the meantime, I just ordered the flipback version of David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” from Hodder & Stoughton, because I can’t wait to get my hands on one.

    by Laura on Jun 29, 2011 at 10:17 pm

  4. I have one, bought it from Amazon.co.uk. I’m in the US, but order from the UK when I really really want something and it’s not otherwise available in the US. It was delivered rather quickly (4 days), and the book is simply delightful! The paper is very thin, and surprisingly opaque, considering. I think I got the book (The Adventure of English) before people in the UK got it, since it wasn’t officially released until the 30th of June.

    It has 648 pages (!) and is only about half an inch thick, and seems sturdy, to boot. (The paperback in the US is 336 pages, so each page in the Flipback version is about half a page worth.)

    I’d certainly be a customer here in the US if this format were offered. Well, I am a customer, already, but the list of Flipbacks in English so far is rather limited.

    by Nancy on Jun 30, 2011 at 11:46 pm

  5. That’s so smart, Nancy! I looked for flipbacks on Amazon.co.uk a while back, but they weren’t available yet, so I went straight through Hodder & Stoughton on release day. I didn’t think to check Amazon again.

    Sounds like a great reading experience. I’m looking forward to getting mine in the mail!

    by Laura on Jul 1, 2011 at 6:14 am

  6. Received my first flipback yesterday (The Adventure of English). A couple of early comments – the page numbers are bizarrely sideways relative to the main text – in the conventional position were you to hold the flipback as you would a regular paperback (i.e. bottom right corner). This means the page numbers are in the bottom left corner when you hold the flipback as intended, and have to either read the page number sideways or turn your head. It seems readers are expected to jump to a page in the time-honoured way and then re-orient the book. I would have preferred to read and skip to pages whilst holding the book in the way it is meant to be held. Example: try using the index and locating the page you want a few times – you may find you end up twisting and turning the book and your head to find what you want!

    It takes a little time to get used to the flimsy nature of the super-thin paper, but this isn’t an issue as such, just a comment.

    I do find that with the font they have used, and the closeness of the lines to each other, my eyes can’t scan and locate quite as easily as with a regular book. Just a shade too many lines on each page. Again, I may well adjust to this, but compared with a regular book (paperback or hard cover), it isn’t as easy to locate with my eyes exactly where I want to be (or when dropping from one line to the next).

    It seems to be left-handed/right-handed neutral, which is (a) nice and (b) unsurprising. However, with a paperback I often hold the book and keep the pages apart with the judicious placing of my thumb near the spine at the bottom. With a flipback I find myself using either my thumb along the spine, or forefinger on the top page and thumb on the bottom. In both cases, given the size of the book and the relatively narrow white pace at the edge of the page, my finger/thumb occlude some of the words on the page and I have to adjust my grip a couple of times whilst reading a page.

    Otherwise, and before you get the wrong idea, I like the book and the format. It is still refreshingly new, and slightly weird, and may not become successful, but I think it has a chance of succeeding, as long as the reading list expands quickly.

    by Ian on Jul 5, 2011 at 1:17 am

  7. I brought my first flipback today, The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver.

    My partner did not believe at first that it was not an abridge version. We both saw the great benefits in reading on public transport, agreeing that they were much more convenient than a knidle, and not so expensive to replace if left somewhere.

    Another thought I had was if all our books were this size, how many more can we have on our bookshelves! This could be the ultimate solution to the problem of books out growing bookshelves. Well I guess not.

    Our conversation finished when I realised it was time to pick my daughter up from work. The Flipback slip easily into my pocket and gave me ten minutes of quiet reading time as I waited for her in the car.

    by Mark on Jun 10, 2012 at 8:20 am

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