A few years ago, we were told that physical books were doomed and that people would switch to various kinds of e-readers. Now physical book sales are on the rise and cellphones appear to be eating e-readers’ lunch. Yet a hot new format is physical, printed books that mimic certain aspects of cellphones. As usual with disturbing trends, you may blame the youth.
In the Netherlands, where these things are taking off, they are called dwarsliggers. (Yet another reason not to allow your kids to visit Amsterdam.) They’re books the size of cellphones. When you open them you find you have to turn them lengthwise to read them. The pages are as thin as onionskin. They’re designed to be read with one hand, the pages turned by one skilled thumb.
Some 10 million of these have been sold in Europe (where people are far more likely to read books while packed together on trains, I think) and now one U.S. publisher is giving them a shot. The reduced size does not come with a reduced price, though: They’re $12. To me they look like a gag from Matt Damon’s Alexander Payne movie Downsizing. I doubt miniature books will catch on. But if they do I suppose they’d look great left casually on the dashboard of your Mini Cooper.