by Nomsa Chirisa

When publishing a book, there are several things that you may feel do not matter for you, your book or your reader, but the size of the book is important. As I grew up, I was a regular visitor at the community library throughout my entire primary and secondary school days. One thing that I was vigilant of was picking thick books. I would always go for the average-sized, mindful of their handiness, but that does not mean no one chose the thick books.

When I was in high school, a colleague of mine loved moving around carrying thick science books, much to most children’s astonishment. As time went on, I began to realise that each book, big or small, light or heavy, thin or thick, has an audience, and its size matters and depends on many issues.

As you reach your maximum word count threshold, the next thing you should be thinking of is the size of your book. A fact that remains when publishing is that the reader is central to your book more than anything else. The reader is your baby hence they are your responsibility. You will want to think of the handiness of your book or its physical look in relation to all other aspects of the book and its overall production. Let’s discuss some of them in detail.


The size of your book should make it easy for the reader to manage it. Think of how a three-year-old would carry a physics college textbook. That would look unmanageable, right? As you work with your book designer to come up with a layout plan for your book, make sure you are answering these questions:

Who is the reader?

What is their age?

Are they physically matured to handle such a book size in their hands?

How portable is this size for use by the targeted reader?

The size of your book should not be too big or heavy for the reader, otherwise it will be a burden to read or carry it around; neither should it be too small or light, lest it becomes too invisible to care about. Create a balance between the needs of the reader and the specifics of your kind of book. At the end of the day, ensure that the end product is of favourable size for the age group you are writing for. By this, you achieve portability and handiness, which your reader will be delighted to carry around.


Book size affects the costs of its production, that is why it matters. In business, every cent counts, hence you do not want to waste it on unnecessary raw materials. The bigger the book, the more the paper, and consequently, the more the costs. In book publishing, paper is the biggest cost factor in producing books, therefore, avoid it by all means possible. Keep your book as handy as possible, but this does not mean that your readers have to squint at your writing. If anything, saving costs by compressing your content makes your book unappealing and your readers do not have to go through so much trouble just to read what they are supposed to. Doing this will not only rob you of your anticipated sales and well-deserved returns, but it will also drive your readers away from you. Ensure that you create a book with a size that is ideal for your readers at the lowest cost possible. Their needs are attended to, and you also save some costs; and everyone is happy.


It is true that a book that is visible is most likely to have more eyes on it, but does this mean that a book that is visible is a book that is big in size? Probably not; because there are a lot of things that make a book visible other than its size. Talk of an appealing design, luring colours, a catchy title, or the name of the author.

While the size of your book plays an important role in its visibility to the customers, this does not mean that it should be as big as an encyclopaedia because it may not belong to the same genre. Your book will compete with other books within the same genre, and you should take it upon yourself to ensure that it is visible among its competitors. Its size speaks to the customers, and while a big book will attract the eyes of many, a small book is handy, and may equally attract the same eyes. Think of how you want your book to be physically visible to its customers and weigh the benefits of each book size as it appears on the book shelf.

Space and storage

It goes without saying that bigger books occupy more space while small books consume relatively smaller space. As you finish writing that book, think of the storage space you have to store the printed copies. In place of a hundred big-sized books, you may be able to store a third more of the small-sized copies. As your book lands onto the shelf of a book store, the reader may want to think twice about how and where they are going to store the book when they have bought it. While small books can easily be misplaced, larger books may also prove to be a problem to keep. Either way, their storage largely depends on the reader and makes sure that you do not add to their hesitation to buy that book. After all, the book is theirs and the more they deplete in your storage, the more the dollars in your pocket.

Factors that influence book size

Authors factor in a few issues when deciding on the size of their books to produce a competitive book in the market. These include:

  1. The Audience
  2. Genre
  3. Word count/length
  4. Illustrations or images
  5. Design
  6. Font


There are so many things that can get in the way of your sales, or drive a wedge between you and your reader and the size of your book matters this much. Do not let it be the reason your book fails to make it in the market. Have a careful approach when dealing with the size of your book, because it can distort all the other efforts which you would have channelled towards making your book the best it could ever be. It is like that drop of sour lemon in your fresh milk. Be proficient and produce a book that will make your readers buy or carry more than one copy at once.

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