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Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Book Sizes Abroad

Happy New Year!
I am back in England having spent just over a month in Thailand. Whilst I was there I was thinking over my current work in progress - a novel set in Restoration England. Surprisingly, living in a small village in Thailand has got material to offer someone working on a historical novel, as the way of life is one which is pre-industrial. There is nothing like living a third world life to remind us of how far we have moved from "life on the land". And the sights, smells, noise of 3am roosters, and debates over which animal to kill for christmas dinner will probably feature with fresh detail in my re-writes.

Whilst browsing in the foreign bookshops I was amazed at the different sizes of books on offer. Airport Specials - huge paperback tomes, surely too unwieldy to fit comfortably in hand luggage. French Editions - small enough (some would say too small) to fit in hand luggage but with very small cramped type. Hardbacks the size of paperbacks - usually in German with lurid cover art. American paperbacks - smaller than an Airport Special but certainly taller than our standard British paperpack.

Am I alone in preferring that all my paperback fiction should fit rasonably onto the same size shelf? Do they make smaller bookshelves in France? Where will I shelve my Airport Edition of "Wolf Hall"?


  1. Our mass market paperbacks are all one size, and that size is pretty much the same as the British mass-market paperbacks.

    But there seem to be no rules whatsoever about the size of "trade" paperbacks. Their dimensions vary from the width and height of a magazine down to oddities that are about 5" x 5". Lord knows why.

  2. Great to see you on my blog, David. Interesting as my book will be published by St Martins Press as a trade paperback in the US - so I'll be interested to see how it comes out. I've just received a questionnaire from them asking me such questions as whether I know any book sellers personally (Huh?) - which given I am all the way over here in England is unlikely! I guess you had the same problem but in reverse when your book came out over here.