What is the Difference Between Trade Paperback and Mass Market Paperback?

Firstly, you must know that they are both paperbacks . Trade paperback is the less expensive version of the hardcover edition. Mass paperback is for masses on a budget. The technical difference between trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks is the distribution method.

No.FeaturesTrade PaperbackMass Market Paperback
1.Book SizeIdeally 6” x 9”4” x 7” or smaller
2.Alternate NameTrade Paper EditionPocket Books
3.Font SizeBiggerSmaller
5.Selling LocationRegular retail storesAirports, supermarkets and newsstands
6.DistributionLibrary & BookstoresNon-traditional locations
7.QualityHeavier & ThickerLighter & Thinner
8.BarcodeUPC barcodeEAN barcode
Summary Table: Trade Paperback Vs Mass Market Paperback

Trade paperbacks are distributed to book trade like Ingram’s or Baker & Taylor. Mass paperbacks however are distributed through magazine distributors and treated like periodicals – there’s a new batch every month, the returns system is simpler and easier for the retailer, etc. News stands can carry mass-market paperbacks, or they can show up in spinner racks anywhere that carries magazines. 

What is Trade Paperback?

Trade Paperbacks are softer versions of the hardcover books consisting of paper thin covers. The covers are, sometimes, better in design compared to the hardcovers, but mostly not.

Trade Paperbacks are produced in more quantities and hit the stores with more numbers compared to hardcovers. The quality of hardcovers is better than that of paperbacks, not just in the quality of the covers but also the paper quality. The quality of the paperbacks depends on the publishing house but is good nonetheless. They mostly come in the size of 6”x 9”, which mostly is as same as the size of the hardcovers, not always though. I have added the screenshot of the Amazon trade paperback bestsellers for your reference.

Trade Paperbacks

Cover Price and Sizes:
Self-publishers writing non-fiction will prefer to publish trade paperback copies. Although the ideal size goes by 6’’ x  9’’, 8.5’’ x 11’’  is rare yet seldom used. The retail price of the cover is comparatively higher than the mass market paperbacks and it is less than the editions which come under hardcover.

French Flap:

‘French flap’ is one of the recent features of Trade paperback. This feature allows one to extend the back and front cover with the section which is folded just like the wrapping of paper. It is typically found in hardcover books. Paperbacks appear more like hardcover editions with lesser price.

Format of Paperback in UK:

  1. The first format matches with the standard mass-market paperback of the US.
  2. The size of this paperback is around 110mm x 178mm that is 4.33″ x 7.01″.
  3. The second format matches with the largest mass-market paperback of the US.
  4. The size of this paperback is around 130mm x 198mm that is 5.12″ x 7.80″.
  5. The second format matches with the standard Trade paperback of the US.
  6. The size of this paperback is around  135mm x 216mm that is 5.32″ x 8.51″

What are Mass Market Paperback?

Mass Market Paperbacks are like a rough and raw version of the paperbacks, meant for readers who are looking out for a more reasonable version of the same book. Therefore, the price is pretty less compared to that of the paperbacks, but so is the quality of the paper and the cover.

They are mass marketed and sold in large quantities, not typically at reputed bookstores and mostly elsewhere. They mostly come in a quite compact and pocket size fashion of 4”x 6” or 4” x 7”, which means that it is smaller, thinner and softer compared to the paperbacks, but just with a more watered quality. I have added a screenshot of the Amazon mass market paperback bestsellers for your reference.

Mass Market Paperback

Distribution and sales :

The books that are sold in non-traditional locations generally stay within the periodical distribution industry. Usually distribution of these books is done by the same company from whom magazines are purchased. While the distribution of trade paperbacks is done by the wholesalers and distributors and channels of trade, hence, they are named Trade paperbacks.

Strippable v/s non-strippable :
“Strippable” simply means that a book’s cover can be torn off, or stripped off by the book retailer or distributor, and then sent back to the book publisher for a credit or refund. The publisher tells the book retailers and distributors which books that it will allow to be stripped, and which books cannot be stripped. Each publisher has its own rules and guidelines about which books can be stripped. By stripping off the cover of a book, and sending the cover back to the publisher, without the body of the book, postage costs will be greatly reduced.

“Non-strippable” books are just the opposite of “strippable”. “Non-strippable” means that a book cannot be returned to the publisher for a credit or refund unless the book is complete, with the cover intact.

Self publishers:

When self-publishers publish their fiction books, they’re typically only released in the mass-market format. These books will most commonly never receive a hardcover printing. This format helps keep the cover price down, making these books more attractive to a broader audience in a very competitive market.

Recognise mass-market paperback :
You will find that the size of the mass-market paperback is small as compared to Trade paperbacks, also you will be able to spot the differences in binding. Other factors from which you can rectify are through prices. Price of the mass-market paperback is comparatively lesser to trade paperback, size – height 6.75’’ and width 4.25’’ and a font is used on a frequent basis and spacing in lines which are smaller. 


If you are in the publishing line, it’s important to have a brief knowledge of the various printing methods and norms that they go by. Self-publishers will also understand what’s best for them through this post. Both mass market paperback and trade paperbacks are the lower priced versions of a hardcover edition. So now, based on your needs and preferences you know what to choose from. 

Difference Between Trade Paperback and Mass Market Paperback?

The difference between Trade Paperbacks and Mass Market Paperbacks is just this—a Mass Market Paperback is smaller in size, has low-quality pages, cheaper, readily available at bus stops, railway stations and small bookstores, and has low-quality cover.

If you are buying books which are meant to be shelved in your book library, you should probably go with the trade paperback, or even better, go with a hardcover.

Difference Table: Trade Paperback v/s Mass Market Paperback

Trade paperbackMass market paperback
Differences in size : In the US at least, trade paperbacks are larger as they go to bookstore shelves. Ideally 6” x 9” is the most common size but they can vary accordingly.Differences in size : In the US at least, mass market paperbacks are 4” x 7” or smaller so as to fit the spinner racks.
Alternate name : Trade paper editionAlternate name : Pocket books
Font size : Large types of fonts may be seen.Font size : Mass market paperbacks may prefer smaller fonts given its comparatively smaller size.
Differences in price : Price of trade paperback is comparatively higher from Mass market paperback. Differences in price : Price of Mass market paperback is lower as compared to trade paperback.
Difference in selling locations : Trade paperback is sold in those bookstores which are regular retail stores. Mostly traditional types of locations are preferred.Difference in selling locations : The mass market paperback is mostly sold at airports, supermarkets and newsstands which come under non-traditional locations for book selling.
Difference in distribution : Trade paperbacks are distributed by companies specializing in the distribution of books to libraries and bookstores.Difference in distribution : Mass market paperbacks are distributed by magazine distributors in non-traditional locations. 
Difference in quality of books : Paper is thicker and heavier as compared to Mass market paperback.Difference in quality of books : Paper is lighter and thinner when it comes to Mass market paperback.
Difference in Barcode : UPC barcode is used in Trade paperback. Difference in Barcode : EAN barcode is used in Mass market paperback.
Difference Between Trade Paperbacks and Mass Market Paperbacks


If you are in the publishing line, it’s important to have a brief knowledge of the various printing methods and norms that they go by. Self-publishers will also understand what’s best for them through this post. Both mass market paperbacks and trade paperbacks are the lower priced versions of a hardcover edition. So now, based on your needs and preferences you know what to choose from. 


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