As a physical object, the printed book is hard to improve upon. "Apart from minor cosmetic tweaks," the New York Times reminds us, "the form has barely evolved since the codex first arose as an appealing alternative to scrolls around 2,000 years ago.
So when Julie Strauss-Gabel, the president and publisher of Dutton Books for Young Readers, discovered "dwarsliggers" - tiny, pocket-size, horizontal flipbacks that have become a wildly popular print format in the Netherlands - it felt like a revelation.
'I saw it and I was like, boom,' she said. 'I started a mission to figure out how we could do that here.'
This month, Dutton, which is part of Penguin Random House, began releasing its first batch of mini books, with four reissued novels by the best-selling young-adult novelist John Green. The tiny editions are the size of a cellphone and no thicker than your thumb, with paper as thin as onion skin. They can be read with one hand - the text flows horizontally and you can flip the pages upward, like swiping a smartphone.
It's a bold experiment that, if successful, could reshape the publishing landscape and perhaps even change the way people read. Next year, Penguin Young Readers plans to release more minis, and if readers find the format appealing, other publishers may follow suit."
Find the whole story here, including a nifty video of a dwarsligger with its pages flipping.