With traditional mass market paperback sales continuing to steadily decline, Kensington Publishing is hoping a change in size will give the format a lift.
Beginning with titles going on sale on September 29, 2020, Kensington said it will replace the standard 4.125 by 6.75-inch mass market paperback with a larger 4.75 by 7-inch format called “Mass Max.” This increase, Kensington said, will allow “for a more comfortable reading experience, with more legible fonts and wider margins.”
The price for Mass Max paperbacks will range from $8.99 to $9.99 compared to the current price range of $7.99 to $8.99. The new format will feature an easier-to-read font and more spacing than current mass market titles. “It’s more like a gift size trade paperback,” Kensington CEO Steve Zacharius explained. “In fact, it’s being printed on trade presses rather than mass market equipment. We are keeping the line length the same as we used in the smaller mass market size, so there’s a lot more white space around the text.”
Zacharius said feedback about the format change has been positive. “The agents, authors, and large retailers that we’ve spoken to are very excited about the new format,” he said. Zacharius is not worried that the higher price will scare off customers, noting that most of its mass market titles have been $7.99, lower than some other publishers’ mass-market titles, which are already $8.99. He said Kensington’s premium mass market books will stay at $9.99 and continue to include the publisher’s biggest authors and thriller titles.
With unit sales of mass market paperbacks down about 13% through mid-April, according to NPD BookScan, Zacharius said something needed to be done to give the format a boost. “It’s time for a revitalization of the format and to literally give the reader more bang for that one buck” price increase, Zacharius said.