What the Heck is a Mass Max book?


If you preorder books you may have noticed that Kensington paperback books that come out starting on September 29th are a dollar more. I asked Kensington publicist Larissa Ackerman to explain the price increase and all the wonderful benefits that come with it.

Thank you so much Sherry and the Wickeds for inviting me on to talk about our new format for paperback books! As Sherry mentioned, beginning with our September 29th, 2020 releases, the Kensington books that previously would’ve been available as mass market paperbacks for $7.99 or $8.99 will now cost $8.99 or $9.99. That’s because starting that month, Kensington will be replacing the traditional mass market paperback size – those are the small books that usually measure about 4.125 x 6.75 inches – with a bigger, better format called Mass Max.

The Mass Max paperbacks are larger than your standard mass market book; at 4.75in by 7in, the new format will be more than half an inch wider, and a quarter of an inch taller. It almost looks like a “gift size” trade paperback, and will come with two huge benefits: the larger sizing means that the books will now have more spaced-out margins, and the fonts will be easier to read.

Let me pause for a moment to talk about book formats for those of you who are asking yourselves, “What on earth is this lady rambling about? Mass market? Mass Max? Mass capacity? Is she talking about paperbacks or what?” Print books are traditionally produced in three formats: hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market paperback. Mass markets are the smallest books out of the three formats listed, and the typeset in them tends to be much tighter than the other two. As a comparison, the average trade paperback size is 5 x 8 inches, and the average mass market size is 4.125 x 6.75 inches. But now, there is a new format that is in between the mass market and trade paperback size that we will be publishing our paperbacks in, called Mass Max.

With their larger size, more legible fonts and wider margins, the Mass Max format will provide readers with a more comfortable reading experience than with traditional mass market paperbacks, while still being convenient to hold and stow into your handbag or backpack. The paper quality and spine design will also have the more enhanced, high-end feel of a trade paperback, while remaining smaller and less pricey than the $15 – $18 usually charged for the trade paperbacks.

For those of us who hate it when a book’s spine gets cracked, another perk of the Mass Max format is you can actually read them without having to peek between the pages in order to avoid breaking the spine!

Another great aspect about the new Mass Max format is that with their more refined look, they’ll appeal more to independent bookstores and retailers that were formerly uninterested in carrying mass market paperback sizes. At the same time, the stores that have always been the main retailers for mass market books—like Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, and airport stores—are super excited and very supportive about the new Mass Max format. Kensington is the first publisher to completely eliminate the mass market size on future releases, instead shifting our entire Kensington Mass, Zebra and Pinnacle lists to the new-and-improved Mass Max size.

For only a dollar more per book, the new Mass Max format is providing our readers with a more convenient, comfortable, and quality reading experience!

Want to know more? Read the following articles. Book Riot: https://bookriot.com/2020/05/15/different-types-of-book-formats/
Press release for Kensington Mass Max: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/83133-kensington-to-introduce-larger-mass-market-format.html

Bio: Larissa Ackerman is a Communications Manager at Kensington Publishing Corp., where she handles publicity and marketing campaigns for many of their cozy and historical mystery series. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in 2012 and has been working in book publicity ever since. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two cats, and she is still trying to solve the mystery of how to stop eating so much chocolate.

Readers: What do you think?


49 Thoughts

  1. Welcome back to the blog, Larissa! Have you held a mass max in your hand yet? I’m looking forward to doing so with my September book.

  2. Oh they sound cool if they’re the size that Kensington was sending out as ARCs, the larger size of the paperbacks. Or even smaller but bigger than mass market sounds good to me, although I still migrate toward Kindle versions. Silly hands just hurt too much if I read paperbacks, sometimes even the nicer bigger ones, but I’ll have to order one of these anyway, since I’m still a sucker for a real paper book. Nice to see a pic of you Miss Larissa, thanks for the explanation, and thanks ladies for having her as the guest today!

      1. I’m looking forward to checking out the new size. I like the idea of reading a paperback without worrying about cracking the spine.

  3. I would really be impressed if this change included printing in the United States

  4. I am really not in favor of this, not that it doesn’t sound nice, but because those of us who read a lot, and prefer paper books, will end up spending a lot more money. I don’t have that extra money to spend on books and I already use the library for all my hardback reading, so this means that I will be reading less of your books. I realize that the price of everything is up but there are drawbacks to raising prices, even if you are putting out a better product. I will continue to buy my favorite authors but probably won’t be trying any new authors unless I can get them discounted or second-hand.

  5. While I’ll still probably gravitate toward trade paperback or hardcover for my home shelves, I can see the Mass Max size being quite popular for travelers or people who like to keep a book in their purse/bag/briefcase.

  6. So interested to hear about the details of the new format! And just let me add more praise for Larissa, who is all that an author could hope for in a publicist — and more!

    1. Larissa is amazing. I always feel like I’m the only author she has to take care of and I know she has lots of us to take care of!

  7. I believe I’ve seen some books published in the Mass Max format before. Maybe not from Kensington. I always called them the tall mass markets. It’s nice to know they have an actual name.

    1. Barb, you are correct. Other publishers have released certain titles in Mass Max. Kensington is the first to do it for their whole line.

    2. The Mass Max format is different than those “tall” paperbacks that have been around. I can’t stand those books because I dislike the tall format. The Mass Max format is more “wide” than tall. I recently read a 460-page Mass Max paperback (The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller) and loved the format. There was no creasing on the spine when I was done reading it and the book still fits on my shelves alongside the regular mass-market paperbacks.

  8. Thanks so much for the explanation, Larissa. I think this is a great idea and I hope it’s super successful. Cheers!

  9. I’m looking forward to the new format, and I echo everything that’s been said about Larissa! She does so much to support the Kensington authors, me included!

  10. I can’t wait to hold one of these in my hands to check out the new formatting. Also can’t wait until we’re able to see Larissa at an in-person event. She really makes each one of us feel special.

      1. You know I miss sitting down and having a cocktail with you ladies! Hopefully sooner rather than later!

  11. Larissa, thanks so much for stopping by the Wickeds to fill us in on the details of this new format! It sounds like a lovely shift and a real upgrade that has readers and their enjoyment in mind! I always think of Kensington as a publisher who is nimble and innovative and I think this is a wonderful example of that!

  12. Very interesting. I look forward to seeing the new format in person.

    Thanks for sharing the information. I hadn’t notice the increase yet. Definitely sounds like it will be money well spent.

    1. Hi Mark! Hope you’re doing well! This will be starting with the September 29th, 2020 titles.

  13. I look forward to the new format. I get very frustrated with tiny margins that mean it is sometimes almost impossible to get the book open far enough to read against the gutter. And sometimes, it isn’t even possible to break the spine (which I hate doing). Since I now get most get ebooks, I won’t be taking advantage of this right away, but I do look forward to it for future Kensington books, which I love!

  14. Interesting. Thank you for sharing. This is the first I’ve heard of mass max, but it sounds like an improvement. I know several people who don’t read mass market paperbacks simply because the font size is uncomfortably small.

  15. I don’t mind paying $1.00 more for the larger mass market size. I always think twice about paying $15 or more for a trade paperback. I usually wait to find them at a used bookstore. Hope this will do away with trade paperbacks.

  16. I normally don’t pay more than $7.99 for a book, getting trade paperbacks or hardbacks at the library or on my Nook. I like the present size to put in my pocketbook, too. However, I have some old paperbacks with print that I can hardly read now. So prices go up all the time, and at least, we get a better book. I’m one whose left thumb hurts sometimes from holding the paperbacks open. Thanks for explaining the change. Stay safe and well.

  17. I can no longer read the Mass Market Paperbacks as the print is too small. I like the larger paperbacks, as they are easier to read. Love this idea.

  18. Thank you Larissa for all you do to promote cozies. I look forward as a avid senior cozy reader to trying this new format ! I am sure they will be easier to read and the covers will be amazing in a large size.

  19. I’m looking forward to this new format – I’ve always wanted wider margins on the spine side of the pages, so it sounds like one dream of mine may be coming true ! (okay, a small dream, but nonetheless)

    Of course we all hate paying more, but there’s nothing like holding a book in your hands. And I get so much enjoyment from reading all of your books that I’m even more excited now about buying and pre-ordering.

  20. The new design that prevents the breaking of the spine is a nice idea and larger print fonts are appreciated.

    But in Canada, we already pay $10.99 ($11.99) for the same mass market paperback priced as $7.99 ($8.99) in the US, so we are used to higher prices. But if the price of the mass max goes up another $1.00 ( or more) in Canada, then these books are not that much cheaper than the trade paperbacks which are $15-17!

  21. I want to add my thanks to Larissa for all she does to promote Kensington authors. I feel fortunate that my next book is coming out on the day the Kensington Mass Max books will debut. I can’t wait to see it and the other books Kensington will print in the new format. ~Maya Corrigan

  22. I prefer the consistency of size in mass market paperbacks. A different size becomes a shelving problem > purchase = no.

  23. Since, as I found out long after I signed my contract, there are no advances for anything BUT mass market. Does this mean no one gets advances any more? (I’m just learning about this through SinC links. Sorry I missed this post in June.)

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