Trade Paperback: A Quick Guide

Refers to any paperback that is larger than a mass-market paperback and, in many cases, is the same size as a hardback edition.

What is Trade Paperback?

Trade paperback refers to the publishing industry practice of releasing a cheaper paperback edition of a previously published hardback. A trade paperback is a mass-produced paperback copy of a book that is the same size and shape as a hardcover.

In contrast to mass-market paperbacks, trade paperbacks are often indistinguishable from their hardcover counterparts, even down to the same page numbers. Also, the paper is of higher quality, being acid-free, much like a hardcover book.

What is Trade Paperback to Publishers?

Publishers frequently distribute trade paperback advance reading copies of upcoming hardcovers. Advance copies of trade paperbacks are used for marketing and promotion, and review copies are distributed to book critics before the book’s general release. Advance Review Copies, or ARCs, are a common term for this edition type.

Retail prices for trade paperbacks can be found between mass-market paperbacks and regular hardbacks. These editions are significantly more durable than the smaller mass-market paperback book due to the higher-quality paper and covers used in their production. 

Paperbacks that match the format of the hardcover edition are more convenient to read than normal paperbacks because of their greater size and uniform page layout. Both hardcovers and trade paperbacks are about the same size as books bound in an octavo format, a term that refers to the standard size of books printed in the United States.

How does Trade Paperback differ from other books?

Trade paperbacks are books larger than standard paperbacks sold in stores but smaller than hardcovers. While most books in this genre are published in a uniform size, there are exceptions. An expanded trade paperback format is used to publish graphic novels, while older comics are typically collected and reproduced in such an edition. These are often sought after by collectors as reading copies, much like comic books, to conserve graphic gems.

A trade paperback, often known as a trade paper edition or just a trade, is an improved paperback edition of a book. When the same publishing house releases a softcover edition of a previously published hardcover edition, the text pages are typically identical to those of the hardcover edition, and the book is almost the same size as the hardcover edition. 

Reviewers and academics will appreciate that the text’s consistent pagination allows them to cite passages easily. The only real distinction is in the soft binding, which typically uses acid-free paper rather than the standard copy paper used in mass-market paperbacks.  

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