Big Book, Small Book: Product Development for Authors (3)

Big Book, Small Book: Product Development for Authors (Part 3)This blog post is continuing the search for a suitable portable size for my new book on self-realization.

All Blog Posts
Big Book, Small Book, Part 1
Big Book, Small Book, Part 2


Yesterday’s adventure really ended very well. As you may remember, I ended up looking at The Elements of Effort, by John Jerome (Pocket Books), which had some nice features, but also had some weaknesses.

So today I am moving on, trying to find an even better “template” to use as my own format for my new book on self-realization.

A New Format “Restriction”

But before I move on, I perhaps should mention something that I haven’t already said out loud here in this mini-series of blog posts. I haven’t mentioned that I am not looking at hardcovers.

The reason is simply this. Although I may sound like an old broken (vinyl/CD) record, I am rather determined in terms of producing a portable product. I am well aware of that a hardcover may look more “impressive” at first hand. And because of this, it may be taken more “seriously” by some. (And there may be other arguments for a hardcover as well)

But even though a hardcover certainly may look more “impressive” to some people, most (reasonable) people will ultimately judge my new book by how good it feels to use. And I think the “portability aspect” is a part of that. So, just to be clear, I am looking for a suitable paperback format.

A New Book Format to Evaluate

So I am looking for a suitable paperback format. One interesting candidate is found in the famous How to Win Friends and Influence Peopleby Dale Carnegie (Vermilion).

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (Vermilion)Note here, though, that my edition seems hard to locate (ISBN=9780091906351), either on or on So the link above goes to an edition that almost looks identical to the one I have (my copy has no yellowish circular design with the text “[Carnegie] changed my life; Warren Buffett”; and my copy has the text “‘Classic’ The Times” at the very bottom), published in the same year (2006). 

Another peculiar thing is that this other edition (ISBN=9780091906818), called “New Ed edition”, has, according to, a width of 12.6 cm and a height of 19.8 cm. However, my own copy is almost exactly 11.0 x 17.7 cm. So I’m not sure what Amazon (or Vermilion) is doing here.

In any case, I’m having my 11.0 x 17.7 cm copy right in front of me, and I’m happy that I have this edition. For I took it out of my bookshelf because its height was smaller (around 0.3 cm smaller), and its width was also smaller (0.9 cm smaller) than The Elements of Effort, by John Jerome (which I covered in yesterday’s blog post). So in terms of height and width I think the Carnegie book was a substantial improvement.

However, in terms of how thick it is, it’s worse than The Elements of Effort. For it’s around 30% thicker (since it also has more pages). And that’s not all. In terms of the layout and typesetting/typography, it is not nearly as good as The Elements of Effort. So if I had to choose either the Carnegie or the Jerome volume, I would have chosen The Elements of Effort. (Luckily, though, I don’t have to choose either or or; I will just combine ideas from both of them, so that I will get the best of both worlds.)

Yet Another Penguin

Now on to the next book. Here I have the famous Animal Farm, by George Orwell. It’s yet another Penguin publication (I covered other Penguin titles in my previous two blog posts). It’s apparently the 1971 edition, and there’s no ISBN number in it. The imprint is “Penguin Modern Classics”.

Animal Farm, by George Orwell (Penguin Modern Classics)

The neat thing about this particular edition of Animal Farm is that its physical width and height are almost similar to the Carnegie book. But the number of pages is only 120 (How to Win Friends was around 290 pages, all in all). So Animal Farm is only half as thick as How to Win Friends.

Also, in terms of typesetting and typography and layout and all that, Animal Farm is, in my opinion, very much superior to this edition of How to Win Friends. The former has a very clean and classical look that makes it eminently readable. Maybe the size of the font could be slightly bigger (together with a proportional increase in the leading); but all in all, Animal Farm just feels good to hold in the hand.

Going Smaller?

Having reached this point, one could ask the question: Is it possible to go smaller, in size (in terms of width and height)? Yes, I think so. So my last book to look at (in this mini-series, at least) is Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction, by Ken Binmore (Oxford University Press).

Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction, by Ken Binmore (Oxford University Press)

This book has the same width as the Orwell volume (11 cm), but the Game Theory book is 0.5 cm less tall. So it feels even more portable than Animal Farm, at least size-wise.

However, the Game Theory book has 184 pages, and is also physically thicker, and heavier, than Animal Farm.  And although the typography and layout of Game Theory is, more or less, impeccable in theory, it fails, I think, in practice. For although the font size and leading are “harmonious”, relatively speaking, the absolute font size is just too small for my taste.

Summing Up

So what can we say, then, about all of this? Well, if I could freely choose a physical format for my new “Self-Realization” book, I would go with the physical size of Game Theory, in terms of width and height (thus, 11.0 x 17.3 cm).

Now, as for the number of pages, I would say that the number of pages in Animal Farm is the max for my own titles (thus, max = 120 pages). But I think that 100 pages, or 90 pages, would be even better.

All in all, I think this three-part mini-series has been very helpful in many ways, and I now feel more confident about how my future product is going to “look like”. It will now be easier to “visualize” it, and also to plan for its contents.

Chris Bocay


Copyright © 2019 by Chris Bocay. All rights reserved.

Last update: Thu 26 Dec 2019.

Cite as: Bocay, Chris (2019) “Big Book, Small Book: Product Development for Authors (3)”. Website: <>. Accessed: [today’s date].

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