Posted by Guy Pringle, 12th April 2011

A review copy of one of my favourite author's books arrived here the other day. But I read Chris Cleave's The Other Hand a year or two ago, so why a review copy now? Well, because it is in a remarkably different format and, no, it's not one of those 'new technology platforms' - although the thinking behind it is probably influenced by them.

Hodder are calling it a flipbook, an idea they've pinched from a Bible publisher in Holland where it has been successfully extended to more than 100 other titles.

Just 8.5 cms wide by 12 cms high it really is small enough to tuck into a pocket but the radical thing is that when you flip it open, the text runs from the top to the bottom across both pages. A clever spine design means that if you're stood waiting somewhere you could easily hold the book open with your thumb and read without it flopping shut.

Even more remarkably, Hodder seem to have got the whole novel into this very small package by using super thin paper without sacrificing legibility or 'feel'. At a penny off a tenner it's a little pricey but if you're a commuter then I can see the appeal and since they're launching with a clutch of much-loved titles from their best-known authors they're obviously confident of establishing a niche.

Having sucked my teeth with distaste when we first opened the package I have to admit to a sneaking approval for the idea. I'm not likely to be buying them for myself - yes, I do buy books even though so many books come through here for review - as my commuting days are over but I can imagine others liking the practicality of the concept. Certainly worth popping into a bookshop near you to check it out - whilst we've still got bookshops.

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