The Dutch publishing industry's "flipback" format sounds clever: it's a sideways-bound book with a lie-flat binding, printed on onionskin, sized to fit in a shirt pocket and optimized for easy one-handed reading. More than a million have been sold in the Netherlands and now it's to be introduced in the UK, France and Spain. It sounds like a handy format, though "Could this new book kill the Kindle?" probably takes the prize for silliest Guardian headline of the year to date.
It is all the rage in Holland, where it was introduced in 2009, and has since sold 1m copies. A version has just been launched in Spain, France is next, and the flipback reaches UK shores in June, when Hodder & Stoughton will treat us to a selection of 12 books. They cost £9.99, and will include David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Stephen King's Misery.
I am keen to see what the hype is about so I take a pre-released copy on my travels: Chris Cleave's The Other Hand. Nearly 370 pages long in its original format, the flipback version has more than 550 - but still fits easily in my pocket. The book's not called The Other Hand for nothing. It's so small that I can perch it in one fist, and keep my other hand free for shopping. How? The paper is wafer-thin.
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