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I noticed that my softcover/paperback books are all roughly the same size, but have slight differences.

Are there standardized sizes (and are they different between US and Europe, just as US Letter and Din A4 are different?) or does each publisher decide it's own size?

Edit: I'm sorry, I don't mean Number of Pages, I mean physical Page Size/Dimensions :)

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Are there standardized sizes?

The mass market paperback appears to be standardized in North America at 4.25" x 6.75".

Some of the other economical standard North American sizes:

  • Trade Paperback
    • 5.5" x 8.5"
    • 6.0" x 9.0"
  • Textbook
    • 7.0" x 10.0"
  • Large
    • 8.5" x 11.0"

Reference

There does seem to be some evidence that a larger mass market size is starting to appear in grocery stores, etc. But I was unable to find a reference to what that size would be.

** Are they different between US and Europe**

That would appear to be correct. The Wikipedia page for Paperback currently has information which deals with the standard sizes in the UK. That page refers to an interesting article prestige associated with larger sizes.

** Does each publisher decide it's own size?**

This is also true to some extent. (Just form the number of odd/oversized/specially shaped books I own.) There are good reasons to stick to standard sizes in most cases though, not least of which is that retail outlets appreciate the predictability.

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What? I have paperbacks form 200 to 1000 pages. So I say no. (The books are in German, but many of them are translated form English authors.)

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There is no hard-and-fast size, but it costs publishers more to produce a larger book, and you're going to have to convince an editor that the extra text is worth it. You'll often see an authors books expand in size as they get to be more successful, and more capable of overriding their editors. Sometimes this can be good, but there are notable instances where the author clearly needs an editor riding herd on him, and doesn't get it...To the detriment of the finished product(1).

So, for a standard mass-market paperback, you're probably going to see the text fall squarely in the 400-500 page range. Exceptions happen, but they're rare. For more established authors, the sky is the limit.

1) The best example I can think of is Stephen King's The Stand. The original version was tight and punchy, but, once he got famous enough, he had it reprinted with about 300 extra pages that added nothing to the plot, which he felt had been pulled unfairly by his editor. The difference, however was between ~800 pages and ~1100 pages, so clearly even Stephen King of 1978 had enough pull to get an 800 page novel published.

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I'm sorry that my question was unclear, I meant physical dimensions rather than number of pages :( –  Michael Stum Nov 21 '10 at 20:22
    
Just btw, I've asked a question about the number of pages now because I think it's a good question or Writers.SE and you had a good answer: writers.stackexchange.com/questions/352 –  Michael Stum Nov 21 '10 at 20:26
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