December 18, 2008

Japanese book sizes

These are the standard book sizes used in Japan by manga and mass-market paperbacks. All formats are perfect bound, with removable, wrap-around, glossy color covers. Bound Japanese manga (tankouban) have black-and-white interiors, though often with color inserts.

Online retailers like Amazon-Japan and Honto are constrained by laws prohibiting deep retail discounting, so these prices reflect what's actually printed on the back covers. (They compete on shipping, which doesn't help overseas buyers. BK1 offers SAL and Amazon doesn't. Overseas buyers also don't pay sales tax.)

A6: 10.5 x 14.8 cm (4 x 6 inches)

Used for "light novels," pocket paperbacks of all genres, and omnibus manga compilations. The girl's series, Kujira no Oyako ("Mother Whale and Child"), was originally printed in Ko B-ban, and then re-released in A6 in half as many volumes. Anywhere from 150 to 600 pages. Retail prices in the $4.00 to $7.50 range.

Ko B-ban: 11.2 x 17.4 cm (4.5 x 7 inches)

("Small B6.") The preferred mass-market format for high-volume, low-cost manga. Compilations sold by major publishers such as Shogakukan and Shueisha (both owned by the ginormous Hitotsubashi Group) use ko B-ban for their quick, out-the-door first editions. Averages 150 to 200 pages. Retail prices in the $3.50 to $4.50 range.

JIS B6: 12.8 x 18.2 cm (5 x 7.25 inches)

("Japanese Industrial Standards.") A midsized manga format used for upscale trade and "quality" manga. Popular among more specialized publishers--such as Kadokawa, which concentrates on horror/SF--who sell into popular but defined niche markets. Averages 200 to 250 pages. Retail prices in the $5.00 to $6.00 range.

A5: 14.8 x 21 cm (5.75 x 8.25 inches)

Special editions of popular manga such as Ghost in the Shell are printed in A5 with color inserts. At the other end of the spectrum, for publishers of narrowly-targeted content such as yuri, the higher cover prices--in the $8.00 to $10.00 range--yield higher margins on smaller runs. Anywhere from 150 to 350 pages.

JIS B5: 18.2 x 25.7 cm (7.25 X 10 inches)

The standard size for periodicals.

Another caveat about pricing is that long novels are often sold in multiple volumes, rather than in the boat anchor sizes common in the U.S. So in terms of total pages, longer books will price out about the same as in the U.S.

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