Children’s Market Terms and Terminology 1

One of our ongoing initiatives will be to provide meaning for terms and phrases that are local to the Children’s Market. So from this point forward we will go into some of those terms and what they mean. If you have specific requests feel free to e-mail them to us!

One of the first set of terms that confused me was the varied Book Market classifications. Many publishers listed the markets of books they published and I wasn’t sure what the words meant exactly. Trade and Mass Market most notably. So they will be first.

Above is cover to Hardback Trade Edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.


Trade Books– Books released to the Traditional (trade) Markets are generally directed almost exclusively to Bookstores and Online markets for sale. In most instances this is a books initial public release and would be a precursor to being released to the larger Mass Market depending on sales numbers of the book within the Trade Market.

Trade Books are often printed in smaller runs, on higher quality paper and binding in a larger format. While it is frequent that you will have a hard cover with a slip cover for a Trade Book, this is not always the case. First run Prints of Trade books can also be softcover but the quality of these books is still generally at a higher grade than what is used in Mass Market Books.

Because of the better quality the book is also generally more expensive, which also contribute to its smaller customer base. They are usually sold on shelves with either their covers out or their spines showing.

Trade Books are also the version of a book that you will most often find being used by Libraries for their patrons. This is due in large part to the sturdier format that makes the books more able to stand up to many uses and reads by multiple Library patrons.

Above is cover to Softback Mass Edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.

Mass Market Books– As the name implies these books are directed at a larger (Mass) audience and consumer base. This is accomplished by making it available in more outlets to consumers, as well as making the books smaller and cheaper for purchase and personal convenience.

While trade books are available in bookstores and online. Mass Market books are more commonly found at the checkout counter of your grocery store, drug stores, gift shops, airports and newspaper stands. They are priced cheaper to attract more impulse buys and purchases. Think small child begging at Mommy or Daddy’s feet for that Zora the Explorer Activity Book!

Mass Market books are generally paperback books printed on less quality paper and sized to be easy to carry in your pocket or purse. The production of Mass Market books also generally follows the release of the Trade version of the same book title. The Trade versions are usually of a higher quality paper, larger, more expensive, and hardback in nature.

Mass Market Children’s Books are very often tied into more popular books, licenses or characters. If you think about it in most of the outlets listed above for Mass-Market you are much more likely to find products from Licenses like Disney, Warner Bros., or Nickelodeon. However, it is just as likely that you’ll find classic best sellers like The Hungry Caterpillar, Where The Wild Things Are, and Goodnight Moon. Books that are so popular that they demand to be available to more customers.



  1. Joy Chu

    If we are talking real pro technology, parlance-wise, and want to truly enlighten, here’s more terms for clarity:

    In the book biz, the term COVER applies solely to paperbacks.

    For hardcover books, there’s the JACKET (the paper that wraps it, plus the flaps).

    Remove the jacket, and you have the CASE.

    Some cases have a pre-printed COVER adhered to it.

    Other cases are wrapped in color stock, or cloth-plus-stock (aka “the 3-piece case”)

    In other words, the terms “COVER” and “JACKET” are not interchangeable. To do so is a giveaway you are a wannabe.

    • WilsonWJr

      The last thing any of us want to do is give the notion that we aren’t professional. You have introduced some new terms to me that I wasn’t familiar with! Thanks so much! We’ll definitely do a future post where we breakdown the book and its parts and the various names and terms used to define them. Thanks so much Joy for bringing us wisdom!!


Leave a Reply