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News: Flipbacks – The Next Little Thing?

June 16, 2011

Flipbacks are a new kind of book format that are about the same size as an iPhone, designed to be held in your hand easily. They open from top to bottom, with the text printed sideways. The paper is extremely thin, very similar to the kind of paper used in bibles, and are held together with a strong binding and a hardback cover. They have been a huge success across Europe, particularly in Holland and Spain. Now Hodder & Stoughton are publishing twelve carefully selected titles (across a wide range of genres – so there is something for everyone!), which will be published on 30th June, priced at £9.99 each.

So what do we think?

We had a sample copy at work and jumped at the chance to see what it was all about. I have to admit I loved the feel of it in my hand – so tiny and compact, perfect for commuters and holidays. They can easily fit in your pocket or small bags. They can be held easily in one hand so you don’t have to sit there awkwardly trying to keep the book open to read. The paper is extremely thin and does feel exactly like Bible paper, it can be a little tricky to get a grasp on it to turn the page, and it also feels very delicate and could easily be torn. The actual reading experience isn’t much different in my opinion. It might take some people time to get used to the idea of the text being printed horizontally but I think once you focus your attention on the actual story you probably won’t even think about the format at all.

I think flipbacks are an exciting new idea, and might be perfect for those who haven’t yet taken to e-readers and still want to feel the actual book in their hands. My only criticisms currently have to be the price. £9.99 is a lot of money to pay for something smaller than the original, and I fear that people won’t want to pay that price and instead choose the original format simply because it is cheaper, even if they do like the flipback design. Of course there will be those eager to try out anything new, and those who will welcome the flipback if they are commuters or if they tend to travel a lot. I love the flipback but I’m not sure I’d even spend that amount on one.

My other criticism has to be the selection of titles available so far. Here is the list:

 The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

The Adventures of English by Melvyn Bragg

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

Misery by Stephen King

Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

One Day by David Nicholls

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Piece of my Heart by Peter Robinson

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

 I think they are a slightly odd selection and none of them are really appealing to me. The only one I’d perhaps consider is Misery by Stephen King. One Day and Cloud Atlas are two of the titles that I managed to get free on World Book Day, so I definitely wouldn’t pay £9.99 for another copy! However more titles are due to be released in September and November so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some good titles!

I can see how these new Flipbacks may come under criticism, like the e-readers have in the past, but I think it’s an exciting year for books! So many revolutionary changes and so many exciting new ways to read that are bound to entice those who have never been book-lovers. It’s obvious that things are changing in the book industry, I think we should embrace these new ideas – and not fret about the death of the original paperback, why can’t we love all formats? I have a Kindle and yet I still read more paperbacks than I can count!

I would particularly like to see some children’s titles in the future range of Flipbacks – I think kids will love them just as much as adults!

For more information you can visit the Flipback website here.


What do you think of the new Flipbacks?

Would you purchase one?

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