Saturday, July 24, 2010

When is a book not a book, and a funny way of counting pages


The United Nations's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared 49 pages to be the minimum length for a book.

A publication with fewer pages can be a leaflet, pamphlet, booklet or brochure. Call it a book, and you risk offending nearly 200 nations. (When I was in college, I rented a room from a family that called TV Guide, "the book.")

The maximum page number is determined by printing equipment and what people are willing to pay, carry and read.

Despite the UNESCO decree, no book has 49 pages. Books have an even number of pages--even if some of the pages don’t have numbers printed on them ("blind folios"). An individual piece of paper in a book is called a "leaf." Each leaf has two sides, called pages. A 100-page book contains 50 leaves. Or leafs.

Although I'll attack Outskirts Press for claiming that its books contain 161, 163 or 225 pages, publishers probably won't be attacked by United Nations soldiers for breaking UNESCO rules.

Outskirts Press can make “books” with as few as 18 pages, the minimum from CreateSpace is 24 pages, and Lulu can do 32 pages. Most printers can produce books with as many as 800 to 1,000 pages, but books with more than 500 pages are unusual. Tolstoy’s War and Peace is about 1300 pages long, and some of Rowling’s Harry Potter books have over 700 pages.

(soldier photo from Life.com)

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