crass snobbism (was starting Abhorsen discussion)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Sat Apr 26 15:30:58 EDT 2003


On Sat, 26 Apr 2003 08:22:17 -0500, Margaret Ball wrote:

(Melissa wrote out a list of qualities for mass market books...)

>Oh. Gotcha. I don't call those things "mass-market" because I'm used to 
>the term "mass-market paperback" as meaning "small paperback that will 
>fit on the drugstore racks, as opposed to trade paperback".

Exactly.  That is the accepted definition, but Deborah was talking about a
different quality that isn't distinguished in publishing circles from other
books of the same size and type.  So this is really more about separating
the wheat from the tares.  Frankly, using the term to describe the kinds of
books that are sold like five-gallon drums of olive oil appeals to me--or
possibly to my inner snob.

>Which is 
>really a dumb name for it, now that I think of it, and why don't they 
>call them "small/big paperbacks" or "Paperback Classic vs Paperback 
>Supersized"....oh well, who expects the publishing industry to make sense?

I gave up on that a long time ago.  Anyway, I think "mass market" does make
more sense when applied to a particular genre/marketing category, rather
than those small, poorly-bound paperbacks that are the bane of my existence.
However, given that when I use ISBNs to strip out book information to record
in my database, it frequently tries to insert "mass market paperback" into
the "binding" field, I don't think we're going to be able to change this any
time soon.

>Anyway, my circle calls such things BSO's, short for Book-Shaped 
>Objects. See, our snobbery is right out in front.

Excellent!  I like that.

Melissa Proffitt
latent literary snob

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