love pochin' #9
July 23, 2013 7:50 PM   Subscribe

Is there such thing as an English-language, available in the US, version of "livres de poche" (pocket-sized books)?

One of my favorite things about France is that books are printed like something you'd actually plan to use! Can anyone recommend companies/lines/etc. of books that are small, like livres de poche? Should fit (if tightly) in a large jacket pocket or a pair of pants' back pocket. I'm sick of carrying around a backpack or bag for the sole purpose of having somewhere to stash my book. Variety would be great, but honestly, at this point, portability is paramount. Cheap is very helpful, though.

posted by threeants to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In college I would always carry around Dover Thrift Editions of classic poetry collections or 19th Century novels.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:54 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Dover Thrift. Possibly Bantam Classics and Signet Classics, although mass-market paperback editions of the classics are increasing thin on the ground, perhaps because publishers put out ebooks instead of doing new print runs. (Bantam editions, in particular, are not as nice as livres de poche or the smaller-format Penguin Classics of my Britishyouth.) Definitely use "mass market" as the search term, and check second-hand bookshops for older, nicer editions.
posted by holgate at 8:17 PM on July 23, 2013

And there's always Barnes & Noble's own line: some are 8 x 5in, which is a bit hefty for many jacket pockets, but there are 6.75 x 4in mass-market editions.
posted by holgate at 8:24 PM on July 23, 2013

Haunuman Books are tiny, and quite entertaining.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:59 PM on July 23, 2013

Penguin 60s Classics are a nice size, though they are slender as well as small in the other dimensions; most contain just one short story. Shambhala Pocket Classics are even tinier in length and width, but will probably keep you occupied a little longer for reading material. The Melville House Classics "Art of the Novella" line is just gorgeous to look at, especially when all the titles are laid out on a table together—their table at MLA stopped me short. The books look petite but are actually a little wider than a mass market paperback. One might just fit in a back pocket, depending on the width of the pocket. I haven't seen their Contemporary Art of the Novella in person but it looks like the books are probably the same dimensions as the classic line.
posted by Orinda at 9:30 PM on July 23, 2013

Seconding Orinda on Penguin 60s. They seem to be out of print, but available used online.
posted by Gotanda at 9:52 PM on July 23, 2013

Penguin 60s are lovely, as are/were the later Mini Classics, the Pocket Penguins for the 70th anniversary, and the Mini Modern Classics. But they were all relatively short runs, the later sets weren't sold in the US (to my knowledge), and aren't that easy to find, especially as box sets.
posted by holgate at 10:03 PM on July 23, 2013

Green Integer:
Edited by Per Bregne, Green Integer publishes a wide variety of works by leading artists, critics and historians. Some titles are new works by contemporary artists, others are important but overlooked works by some of history's greatest writers, and yet others, by great writers both living and long ago passed, represent significant international works which have never before been published in English.

The smaller format of most of the books (6" x 4.25") make these important works highly portable for those who don't want to sacrifice their love of literature and learning for lack of a structured space and time for reading.

Works published to date include critical essays, interviews, poems, plays, fragments of suppressed writings, radio dialogs, journals, philosophical essays, short fiction, speeches and novels.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:17 AM on July 24, 2013

The German-speaking world has Reclam, who publish inexpensive paperbacks sized about 5 ¾″ x 3 ¾″. They are best-known for classics written in German, although their red series contains English-language literature. I have no idea if these books are easy to come by in the US, though.
posted by wachhundfisch at 1:27 AM on July 24, 2013

Flipback titles would be ideal for you. I think these are uk only but you could use perhaps?

Any used bookstore will have cheap copies from the Little Library of Art series.
posted by susanvance at 4:20 AM on July 24, 2013

If you're interested in non-fiction, there's the Very Short Introduction series.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:49 AM on July 24, 2013

Shambhala Pocket Classics! I have a large number of these and they are great for the back pocket.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:52 AM on July 24, 2013

If you're interested in reading about rock music, look into the 33 1/3 series. Each book focuses on one specific album, and the style and content of the book is up to the author, so you might get anything from a deep scholarly analysis to a work of fiction inspired by the album.

There are also the Pocket Canons, which are individual books of the Bible published in small format with introductions written by famous authors, musicians, and public figures (the Dalai Lama, Nick Cave, Bono, etc.). They're designed and laid out for reading the books as literature rather than specifically as religious texts.
posted by jessypie at 7:49 AM on July 24, 2013

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