My Flipback and Yours? Announcing a Giveaway!

The cover of the "Cloud Atlas" flipback was so beautiful I had to photograph it in a basket of yarn.

The “Cloud Atlas” flipback I ordered from England arrived recently, and it was totally worth the wait.

Even better, some complimentary copies from Arthur van Keulen, international marketing manager of Jongbloed BV, appeared on my doorstep this past Friday.

What joy! And I’m ready to share.

Today’s the first chance to win a flipback copy of Chris Cleave’s “The Other Hand,” courtesy of Arthur and Jongbloed BV, the Dutch company that created this innovative pocket-sized format.

All you have to do is comment on this post by 5 p.m. Friday, West Coast time. Everybody gets one entry this time. Feel free to leave more than one response, but I’ll disregard all but your first one in picking a winner (using’s number generator). And if you don’t win, I’ll run the next giveaway in a few weeks, so keep checking back.

Flipbacks are so small, lightweight and even easier to carry around than my latest knitting project.

Now let me rave about “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell. I’m really enjoying the story, and I’m definitely going to seek out everything else Mitchell has written–but that’s not the point of this particular post. I want to talk about the flipback book-as-art and what it’s like to hold, admire and read one. After all these months of posting about flipbacks, I’m thrilled to share some first-hand details.

I’m surprised about:

  • How vibrant and gorgeous the “Cloud Atlas” cover art is. I wonder if the illustration was designed specifically for flipback format, or if it’s a miniaturization of a previous version of the novel. The details are exquisite. They’re definitely in proportion to the size of the object. I’d rate this book as having a very high elegance factor. The cover definitely made me want to dive in and start reading “Cloud Atlas.” Which I did.
  • You can see how the flipback is constructed here. It joins at the spine on only one side, which avoids the "mousetrap" closing.

    How thin and small it is. Remember the only flipback I’ve seen personally, until now, was the Cambridge University Press Transetto Bible, which, understandably, is thicker at 1,080 pages. “Cloud Atlas” is 853 pages, not including acknowledgements and press quotes about Mitchell’s other works. And for the record, it’s quite a long book compared to some of the other novels published as flipbacks. “The Other Hand” ends at 560.

  • The blurb on the back of “Cloud Atlas” fits perfectly with the size of the book. It’s closer to an elevator pitch summary than a traditional two or three-paragraph description. It begins with the phrase “Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies…” The actual blurb is two sentences: “Six interlocking lives–one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity’s will to power, and where it will lead us.”
  • Besides that description, there’s still room on the back cover for three very short comments from British newspapers, some lovely blue birds, the barcode and a neat logo that features the flipback dog.
  • The leading (the space between the lines) is tight, similar to the Transetto Bible and mass-market paperbacks (those smaller paperbacks). It’s still quite readable, though. And it appears that other flipbacks have looser leading, because they’re not as long as “Cloud Atlas,” which runs 528 pages in standard paperback.
  • Here's what the inside of "Cloud Atlas" looks like. This photo isn't as white and crisp as the actual novel, but you can get an idea of the leading.

    The type is a smidge smaller than regular paperbacks, but it’s pretty close to normal size. Again, I think it’s smaller in “Cloud Atlas” because of the challenges of turning a long novel into pocket-sized form; some of the other flipbacks, like “The Other Hand,” appear to be normal-size type.

  • While the paper is very white and the text is quite readable, I do see some shadows of the text bleeding through the thin pages. I initially wondered whether that would bother me, but when reading, I don’t notice the effect at all. It’s not a detriment, merely a noted curiosity.
  • I need a bookmark. Usually I can flip through a novel and find my page quickly, but the thinness of the pages makes it hard to flick through without missing a page. Luckily, scrap paper works, or there’s such thing as a flipback bookmark, and Arthur sent me some to try. They’re like book jewelry! And here I thought flipbacks couldn’t get any more lovely.
  • The pages are extremely durable. Whenever one gets wrinkled, it smooths out once I shut the book.
  • I usually can tell how far along I am in a book, but flipbacks are such different formats, it’s hard to guess! I’ve read 100-some pages in “Cloud Atlas,” and I wonder how far I’d be in the regular version.
  • Now this one totally amazes me. As someone who suffers from chronic wrist and hand pain, I don’t have to set the book down to read it like I do with paperbacks and hardcovers. I can hold “Cloud Atlas” pain-free with one hand, or if I want to put it in my lap, it stays open on that page without prompting. I’ve speculated before that flipbacks would be great for reading while knitting, nursing or exercising, and now I can add that they’re wildly helpful for people with arthritis and other hand ailments.
  • There’s been a huge “wow” factor with the few people I’ve showed “Cloud Atlas” to so far. Everyone is curious and wants to play with it.

So remember, comment here by 5 p.m. Friday to be entered in the giveaway, so you too can carry around a tiny novel. I’ll post the winner here in the comments. And if you’ve missed my previous posts on these handy-dandy books, check out the flipback category in the sidebar and you’ll find all kinds of details and an interview with Arthur van Keulen. 

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
This entry was posted in Books, Contest, Flipback, Reading, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to My Flipback and Yours? Announcing a Giveaway!

  1. Fantastic! You know I’m excited!

    “Cloud Atlas” sounds like an interesting read. Is it any good?

    • It’s fabulous. The novel seems to be all told in letters or diary entries from various characters. I’m into the second character’s perspective now and enjoying it immensely. It was recommended to me by the woman who cuts my hair, and we have very similar taste in literature. She said her whole book club adored it.

  2. All I have to do is comment? I’m in.

    I’ve never experienced a flipback!

  3. pennyjars says:

    Oh wow, neat-o. I’m so intrigued. I wonder how it does in heft while lying on my back in bed with my arm suspended in midair.

    • It’s been very comfortable to read on my back! Usually I have to set a book on the bed and turn sideways because I have hand pain. But maybe you’ll win and get to find out for yourself!

  4. Sarah Cypher says:

    Remind me–in order to get a book published as a flipback, what needs to happen? Is the company who creates them in partnership with publishers, i.e., would you sell the “flipback rights” to your novel the way you’d sell your electronic rights?

    And yeah, I would love to read CLOUD ATLAS. I downloaded the sample to my Kindle, but it just seems to magical to read on a screen.

    • You’re correct, Sarah! The Dutch dwarsligger company works out an agreement with a publishing house in another country. In England it’s Hodder & Stoughton. So the British flipbacks are branded Hodder & Stoughton, and feature their authors and their choices of titles. The flipbacks are actually printed in Holland.

      “Cloud Atlas” is phenomenal. I am enjoying it immensely, and it is rather magical to be reading it in pocket size!

  5. The pitch for CLOUD ATLAS sounds so lyrical, love it. And I would love to get my hands on a Flipback. Soooo awesome!!!

  6. Sounds fantastic. You know, the first time that I read about flipbacks here, I went and looked them up on their website. While I still love full-size books, I think that this is a great alternative even for small but heavy paperbacks.

    I’m very glad to hear that the pages smooth out again! That would worry me a lot with such thin pages.

    • I was wondering about the page durability, too! I haven’t tried to rip one… but definitely the pages keep themselves pretty wrinkle-free. My book still looks new despite a lot of people flipping through it and me actually reading it.

  7. Oh sounds just lovely (and such pretty pictures you put up, too). I’d love to hear more about the bookmarks. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

    • Maybe I’ll post a picture with a bookmark next time I do a giveaway. They’re quite darling and properly proportioned! There’s a small metal clip that hangs onto the outside cover, and a ribbon dangles down from that to mark the page.

  8. I’ve been following your coverage of flipbacks–I can’t believe everybody isn’t talking about these, they look so…*cute* seems like the wrong word. They do look cute, but they also look elegant, and simple. Such an intuitive design, it’s surprising it’s taken this long to get to it!

    And I also would love to see the bookmarks in action.

    • Thanks for commenting, Sandra! I agree–I can’t believe there’s not much information out about flipbacks, even since the June 30 launch. There’s definitely a high “ooh!” factor in how small and pretty they are. I’ll take some bookmark photos and post those after I get back from next week’s writing retreat.

  9. handstitch says:

    I am in for a good refreshing read…and in a flipback–my very first. Boy, I am excited. Thank you so much for the recommendation, Laura, and teaching me a new word today–FLIPBACK 😀

    P.S. I stumbled on to your blog through Raya. I test-knitted one of her beautiful jumper design a few months ago.

    • Thanks for popping by and commenting, handstitch! If you don’t win today’s contest, check back here because I’m going to give away another flipback in a few weeks. Raya’s great! I love her designs and her yarn. It was so awesome to volunteer in her Sock Summit booth last weekend and watch everyone ooh and ahh over her work. Which jumper did you test? I’m in the market for my next baby pattern…

  10. Tamara says:

    me, me I want to win 😉

    • Well, we’ll see what picks in about two hours! For those of you just surfing, feel free to add a comment before 5 p.m. West Coast time for your chance to win one!

  11. It’s 5:05 p.m. Portland time, and I just went over to to pick a winner of the first flipback giveaway. It’s handstitch! Congratulations! Please email your address to laurastanfill at hotmail dot com and I’ll send you “The Other Hand.”

  12. Hey, everyone! I haven’t heard back from handstitch about how to get her a copy of The Other Hand, and it has been a few weeks, so I went back to for another winner. Congratulations, Emerald Barnes! The number 3 popped up, and you get Chris Cleave’s book in flipback! Thanks to everyone for commenting, and stay tuned for another flipback giveaway pretty soon.

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