Upon arriving home from work at the end of last week, I encountered a small black jiffy bag [so small that it easily fitted into my rather pathetically small right hand!]. Contained within I discovered the tiniest book I’ve ever been sent to review – a flipback copy of Peter Robinson’s Piece of My Heart. But this review does not concern the content of the book [which I read a few years back when it was first published, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable page-turner]. Rather, this is going to be my thoughts on the idea, design and experience of reading a flipback book.
The flipback book is being touted as the answer for all of those people who think that a Kindle is too computer-y and lacks the tactile quality of a physical book. The flipback is tiny [slightly bigger than an iPhone] and really does fit into your pocket [as the press release claims]. In fact, for the sake of this review – and you, dear reader – I actually spent an afternoon wandering around with my flipback in the back pocket of my jeans. It does work, but my flipback is now slightly bowed [I probably should have taken it out of my pocket before I sat down!].
I do own a Kindle, and use it for work because it allows me to carry multiple manuscripts around at once [and without breaking my back] and due to the fact that it allows me to read incredibly quickly. However, I grew up with physical books, and I genuinely am a bit of a bibliophile and far prefer the ritual of reading a book to reading off a Kindle. And I have also noticed that in the last couple of years there has been a definite move in UK publishing away from the smaller, A-format book [which I could fit into my coat pocket] to the larger B-format [which is far too large to fit into a coat pocket].
So I can certainly see the appeal of the flipback, and I did find it fun to read. However, I did find the font rather blocky and reminiscent of my science textbooks from when I was at school, and the act of turning a page upwards is completely counter-intuitive and took quite a while to get semi-used to [and I kept on trying to flick through the pages in the hope that a little stick man would start running around!]. But then I have been reading ‘normal’ books for over two decades, turning pages to the side, so it probably isn’t surprising that I found the flipback rather alien to use at first.
It is also incredibly handy for reading on a rush-hour tube, as it does cut down on the amount of jostling that your fellow commuters have to go through when turning a page [which, as any London commuter will tell you, is a more than regular occurrence]. At £9.99 a flipback is quite pricey [due, undoubtedly, to the small and costly print runs] and with only twelve Hodder titles to choose from [including John Le Carre, Stephen King and David Nicholls] the flipback isn’t likely to take over from the Kindle or the ‘normal sized’ physical book. But it does give readers an intriguing, great looking and fun alternative to the status quo.
Now I’m hoping that some bright spark will make a miniature bookcase just for flipbacks. How dinky would that be?!!
And if you want to find out more about the books, then check out the flipbacks website, here.