Flipback Revolution?

The flipback book is something of a revolution for reading. For those who haven’t heard of the idea, a flipback book is a novel printed in a very small paperback that opens horizontally and reads in the landscape position, rather than portrait. In fact, you can see how they work in the video below:

I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of one of my favourite books, One Day, in this new format to try it out. When I first saw the concept I was excited as it could make reading even easier for people on the move. Having held it in my hands and used it I’m still excited but it has left me wondering what impact it will have on the market.

The concept arrived after looking at the book of all books, The Bible. Flipbacks were invented by a Dutch Bible printer who saw inspiration in small books printed on incredibly thin paper that can be put in your pocket or bag with more ease. This is particularly efficient in a world where paperbacks can vary in size.

The book itself lovely. It still has some heft to it, which makes it comfortable in your hand but doesn’t weigh your trousers down. The print is clear, despite it being printed on very thin paper and reading with the book aligned strangely takes mere seconds to get used to. The thing that I loved the most was the ability to pop it into my pocket when in town and steal a few pages here and there. This is something I’ve struggled with with regular paperbacks.

I’m not overly impressed by the launch line up, but that’s a matter of interest and there’s certainly something on there for most markets. My biggest issue, however, is the PR spin which is aimed solely at the Kindle and eReaders in general. Flipback states that it is portable and always fully charged. Whether this is tongue in cheek or not, it’s unknown, but really? Aren’t we just stating the obvious here?

Flipbacks should be marketed as books, plain and simple. They don’t need to compete. Push them towards airports, commuters, sell them to people who picnic in the park each day, that is exactly where this concept could thrive. Another issue, for some, may be the pricing. Currently on Amazon, One Day, is £6.99 in Flipback. However, it is only £4.99 on Kindle and even cheaper in paperback at £3.98. That’s rather imbalanced at the moment and only heightens the ongoing debates about book pricing. If flipbacks were to drop to around £3.99, they could swiftly grab a large market share.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what ‘container’ the product comes in, what we take away is the quality of the contents. The flipback book will never be a Kindle killer, in fact it won’t even dent the ereader market. But, it will support readers who despise overstuffing their pockets and handbags with the latest paperback.

Before that can happen, however, something needs to be done about the pricing. £9.99 is a lot to pay for a paperback, particularly a novel like One Day that has been doing the rounds for a while now and can be bought in its larger form in many retailers for a fraction of the price.

I still adore the concept, but wrinkles certainly need ironing out. My Wife who has never read One Day (much to her shame and my persistence of its greatness) has vowed that she will read it in flipback as she’s besotted with the idea. Thus proving that there’s a consumer there who wants it. In fact Europe is currently enjoying the format in large numbers with over 1.5 million flipbacks in distribution. Only time will tell, it’s made a good first impression, but I want to see where we are in six months.

Thank you to Hodder for sending through a sample.

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