Mass Market Paperback

Mass Market

Mass market paperback books, or MMPBs, are printed for large audiences cheaply. This means that they are smaller, usually 4 inches wide by 7 inches tall, and the text is in a smaller font. These smaller sized books are often called pocket books, and they do fit easily into a purse or a back pocket.

copy of the Lord of the Rings, a mass-market paperback

Despite the drawbacks in quality, lower prices mean that this kind of book is more widely distributed, and can be easier to find. Mass market paperbacks are printed on lower quality paper, not on acid free paper like most hardbacks and trade paperbacks. When a bookstore is unable to sell most books, the publisher has them returned. The cheaper MMPBs are destroyed, or at least they are supposed to be, after the cover is stripped off and returned. This results in some books without covers that are "illegal" according to publishing houses. The sale of these "stripped" books by a bookstore is a breach of contract with the publisher.

Familiar to most consumers, this is the kind of book that most people think of when they hear the term paperback. Many people prefer this style of book despite the lower quality materials, because of the price, but also because of the convenient size. The standardization of this size is thought to come from the duodecimo size of printed books in the early era of printing. Many books are printed only as mass market paperback initially. In this case, they become highly collectible as first edition/first printing editions.