I never thought I’d be reading a book the size of the first iPod Touch until I came across the latest editions of John Green’s bestselling books. Marketed as Penguin Minis, these books have text that reads horizontally with onion-thin pages flipping upward. As a person who loves to lug books around, this would be a perfect option in theory. In execution, I was completely wrong.
I never thought I would hate a book format more than a poorly designed e-book, but Penguin Minis have come along to prove me very, very wrong. The point of these books is to be super easy to handle. Apparently, the “revolutionary landscape design and ultra-thin paper makes it easy to hold in one hand.” While I will admit that the book itself feels quite nice to hold in such a nontraditional way, trying to read the pages and flip from page to page is near impossible. The pages are so thin that there is no way I can successful grab onto only one, instead flipping an entire chapter.
GIF Via The New York Times
The text size is nothing to complain about unless you’re not used to reading mass market paperbacks with similarly thin pages and smaller print than typical paperback books or if you have particularly bad eyesight. I took issue with my bad eyesight combined with the small font and the thin pages. From a distance, it was hard to keep track of where I was on the page as the words from the pages before ghosted onto the page I was reading.
Photo via Emily Hering
On top of all of this, there are twenty-five skin-thin pages at the end of the book just hanging out. What does Penguin and John Green expect me to do with these? Write notes in them? Doodle my interpretation of Gus’s pre-funeral? Write my riveting review of the novel? What is the purpose of these twenty-five blank pages?
In conclusion, would I purchase a Penguin Mini again? Absolutely not. They may be perfect for reading on the subway during rush hour, but the thinness of the pages makes reading a two-handed activity, even for the most agile of readers. I will give them credit and say that it is probably one of the cutest books I will ever own and it will look preciously displayed on my bookshelf. It may just be a case of a format that Americans aren’t quite used to and with an audience that isn’t quite ready for another revolution in literary distribution, this time in the form of palm-sized books.
Maybe next time, Penguin.
Featured Image via Washington Post