John Green is releasing four of his bestselling YA novels in an unusual miniature format. You've never seen a book like this before.

By Elizabeth Sile
Updated October 30, 2018
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Courtesy of Penguin Young Readers

Like many readers, I've long held the belief that the design of the book cannot be improved upon. Sure, putting a few ebooks on my Kindle or Kobo before vacation is very convenient and audiobooks are great for car rides, but I've always preferred the tactile experience of holding a book in my hand and turning pages, seeing how far I've got to go and the progress I've made.

I thought I had seen it all, until I recently got my hands on a Dwarsligger, a cell phone-sized book format (also called a Flipback) that has been popular in Europe and especially in the Netherlands, where they were introduced about a decade ago. These books are printed horizontally and with a hinged cover, so they can easily be held in one hand. The thin paper prevents the books from feeling clunky. But until this month, American readers couldn't readily get their hands on Flipbacks.

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Now, Penguin Young Readers is releasing the first Flipbacks in the U.S. with bestselling young adult author John Green. Readers can buy individual mini book versions of four of his YA novels—Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Starsindividually for about $10-12 each or as a boxed set ($27, amazon.com).

Though I haven't totally mastered one-handed Flipback book reading, I've loved reading these small books on my commute and anywhere else I've found myself with some time to kill. They're lighter than my iPhone and slip easily into any bag or back pocket, and I've enjoyed discreetly rereading The Fault in Our Stars in coffee shop lines.

Penguin Young Readers is planning to release new books in Flipback format next year.