Are these two books I see before me...Their spines towards my hand...Come, let me clutch them--
And in clutching them, I become annoyed. Viz.:
So I have two big fat mass market paperback books in front of me. One of them is the UK paperback edition of Devices & Desires by KJ Parker (Published by Orbit). The other shall remain anonymous (because what I am about to complain about is not the author's fault) but it's published by a major US publisher. Both books are approximately the same number of pages: 700 plus.
But there the similarities end.
D&D has a nice matte cover, made of nubby parchment looking paper, mostly covered with words, with a small line drawing to illustrate. In width it's probably about 4-5 inches thick. That's pretty thick, but the paper is nice and sturdy and the spine is good, and so it's easy to open and easy to read.
The US book is also 700 pages, plus, but it's only about two inches thick. This is because the interior pages are so thin they are practically newsprint, and the spine is weak. This book may be the best fantasy novel EVER, and in fact, it was nominated for A Major Award--but I can't read it. I tried, but the paper was so flimsy that it was hard to turn, and the ink smudged. All of these annoyances kept throwing me out of the story--and finally I gave up. Which I realize is dreadfully unfair to the poor writer who had no control over any of these issues...but....
Now I understand that probably there wee some cost issues involved the choices that the US publisher made. The book retailed for 6.99 which is about average for a mass market paperback, and the cover was embossed and foiled, which I guess cost more, and which I suppose is supposed to attract readers--but then what is the point of attracting readers if the book is unreadable?
Well, maybe I'm just dainty in my desire to have non-blurry type and non-flimsy paper, and a binding that won't crack. And willing to pay a dollar or so more to get these luxuries.