Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So What's Up With Amazon?

Is it just me, or is their pagination way, way off? For instance, Amazon lists my novel Atticus for the Undead at 162 pages. But at just over 53,000 words, by my calculations, this severely shorts the book page-wise. If we assume 250 words a page, that's 212 pages—50 full pages more than the Amazon listing suggests. This has caused several reviewers (including Kirkus Reviews) to refer to the book as a "novella."

We find the same problem with my latest novel, The Void. It clocks in at just under 62,000 words. At 250 words a page, that's 248 pages—244 if we round down and assume 61,000 words. And yet Amazon lists it at 190 pages.

To fit 62,000 words into 190 pages, by my calculations, you would have to put around 326 words on a page. To fit 53,000 words onto 162 pages, by my calculations, you would have to put 327 words on a page.

Has Amazon suddenly starting fitting 326.5 words onto a page? That would be a believable explanation, except for the final plot twist.

My first novel, Weaver, is also my shortest, by the word count. It's just under 44,000 words long, just over 45,000 when you include the preview of The Void that I added at the end of the most recent edition. (Weaver is also free everywhere but Amazon, and 99 cents on Amazon.com, by the way.) But according to Amazon, its page count?

168 pages.

For those keeping score, that's six full pages longer than Atticus for the Undead, even though Atticus is 8,000 words longer than Weaver, even counting the sneak peek at the end. Fitting 45,000 words onto 168 pages, incidentally, means putting approximately 268 words on a page.

So, someone who understands how Amazon's formatting works better than I do, please, I'm begging you, explain to me: What is going on here??


  1. The last book you mentioned is spot on. Printers aim for 250-280 words per page so that's not too bad. The others are off by a LONG way though.

  2. Right, Weaver is closer to the pagination I would expect. The reason I WTF about its length is that it's got more pages than a book that is actually, truly, thousands of words longer than it is.

  3. John: Word count does not translate to page count as a perfect multiple. Total page count is based on a LOT of factors: Word count, word density (there will be more pages if your word density is low, such as stories that have lots of dialog), font size, character spacing, line spacing, etc. Trying to calculate a perfect multiple to calculate page length is impossible, because every book is different.

    I suspect that Amazon is using an average page size, average font size to make this a constant for all eBooks, and then laying each book out and calculating the page count by the number of *lines* rather than the number of words, which will actually give you a more accurate page count.

    For the record, my fantasy novel The Time Weaver weighs in at 100,000 words and 305 pages in paperback. That's 327(ish) words per page, which is actually a fairly high word density, but that's because I tend to use a lot of description blocks.