Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Tipped Over

This post is on a topic that I find a bit mystifying. In what seems to be an attemt to fight the rising ebook tide, Hodder has published a series of what they call 'flipbacks'. They say they're "something completely original, a perfectly formed, portable, pocket-sized treat", and that they licensed the design from the Dutch publisher who invented them.



They seem to be like normal books turned on their side, and printed on what I assume to be very thin Gideon's-Bible-style paper--hardly a patentable revolution, I would have thought. Has anyone seen one of these in the wild? Is that all there is to them? Wouldn't turning pages up, calendar-wise, be a bit irritating?

And there seems to have been a missed opportunity for cover art here--they've just taken the existing covers and recropped them...




..when they could have done something new with the landscape format, perhaps along the lines of these movie-still James M. Cain covers.

If you've seen on or, even better, read one, please leave a comment and tell me what I'm missing here.

17 comments:

thatcovergirl said...

Aack. I would think reading a book calendar-wise would be extremely irritating. But still curious to get my hands on one and experience this in the wild.

Seeing Nicholls' cover reminded me of this article, have you read it?

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/e-books-will-blow-apart-cover-design.html

JRSM said...

Thank you, no, I hadn't seen that. I'm torn--more work for designers means more chances of groovy ideas popping up, but phrases like "identity packages" set my hackles rising. And not every book lends itself to being summarised by an icon (but then, I suppose, not every book is well summarised by a cover design, either).

Ian Shimkoviak said...

was posted here a while back: http://www.casualoptimist.com/?s=flipback

I mean, it seems like they made an effort to make it easy to read an use. If it does catch on, which i doubt it will, then it will present a interesting format to design on for many cover designers. It does seem like in this case they are just readjusting some elements to make it work with existing covers...

Ultimately it's just another version of the same tied and true.

Anonymous said...

i have been playing with them all week.
pro: compact; light; and turning the pages upwards is actually quite a smooth reading process.
con: the pages are so thin you can see through them to the text behind making them, in my opinion, unreadable.
such a shame.

Anonymous said...

This format is designed to be held with a SINGLE HAND. This is its main selling point.

Tom Murphy said...

I haven't come across one of these flipbacks, but I was in a restaurant at the weekend that had a 'calendar' format menu and I found it awkward and distracting.

I guess books have opened vertically for centuries because our hands are left and right rather than top or bottom

JRSM said...

Thanks, both Anonymous people: I hadn't thought of the one-handed thing--useful for strap-hanging in a bus or train, I suspect.

Ian/Tom: There's certainly a lot of room for creative design, but from what Tom says, they seem more a novelty than the way of the future.

Sell Paradise Books said...

I'm Dutch and I read all about these. As someone said above, they are meant to be read with one hand and will stay open on the page they are opened on. They are designed to be the perfect commuting book. They are also meant to be cheaper than the 'proper' version. I think they are catching on in Holland, but I'm not living there at the moment so can't be sure. If it is true what someone else said above that you can see the printing on the other page below through your current page than that needs to be fixed, obviously.

JRSM said...

Thanks for that: it would seem that they're designed for travelling with and reading in public, then. Which makes sense, as an alternative to iPad-type devices.

Craig D. said...

Several months ago, I posted a comment drawing your attention to this awful book version of Philip K. Dick's The Minority Report:

http://tinyurl.com/2g8c43k

Aside from having an ugly cover and being a total rip-off (charging $12 for a short story), it was also turned on its side so the pages are flipped vertically. I actually held this thing in my hands in a bookstore, and I assure you, it was utter shit.

I don't buy the argument that these books are made to be held open with a single hand. Haven't we been doing that with traditional books?

I do, however, have a fondness for the thin Bible paper used in the Library of America books. It allows a publisher to cram a lot of pages into a thin and lightweight volume.

JRSM said...

Yes, the LOA books are done very nicely. And the Bible-ishness of the pages does something to add to the 'weight' of the IMPORTANT LITERATURE contained within.

I had no idea that PKD was sideways. I wonder if they bought the license for doing so from the Dutch? :)

I usually tend to hold a book in just one hand, too, though I know my wife, for example, doesn't do this.

L said...

I appreciate the overall concept (it's fresh and practical!), but highly doubt if I'd ever buy a book with this design. I guess I'm a little too set in my ways - as inefficient as they may seem!

JRSM said...

Same here--I'm sure I'll fiddle with one if I see it in a shop, but I doubt I'd buy one (unless it was unavailable in any other format).

Keri said...

There's a discussion of them on LibraryThing: http://www.librarything.com/topic/119694

It seems that their main appeal is for commuters.

Anonymous said...

See PhiloBiblos on them as well at http://www.librarything.com/topic/119694. He talks about their structure, and reports "I for one find them much more easy and comfortable to read than any e-book I've tried, and their portability is certainly a nifty thing."

Anonymous said...

I've yet to sell one of these but I look forward to the conversation I have with the customer who buys one. I do like the way the spine of the book falls away from the pages but honestly, these are ridiculous. A solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Let's have B-format paperbacks with the hinged spine but without the horizontal format and the awful sans-serif type. It would be just as easy to read them on the tube.

JRSM said...

"A solution to a problem that doesn't exist" sums up my feelings, too.