Amazon Ebooks and New Page Count Feature

With ebooks we run into one very big difficulty: reader understanding how long or short a story is.

Some retailers understand this dilemma. On Omnilit and All Romance eBooks, there is a field in which to put the the word count of the work. Smashwords estimates the word count of the entire ebook when it converts your Word file into all the various ebook formats.

An ebook doesn’t have pages as physical books do. At the most they have ‘locations’ and then story separations such as chapters. As writers, we are accustomed to keeping track of word count for several reason. For queries, they are needed to let the potential publisher know how long a work is. For writers they are often used to quantify writing progress per day, week, month, and year.

However, word count means nothing to the average consumer.

Because of this, I have been placing in the product description not only the word count, but also the approximate page count using the standard 250 words per page in a manuscript. This way I could communicate to possible readers exactly what they are getting.

Today I noticed something interesting:

I’m not sure how long it’s been there, as I don’t go to my book’s product pages all the time, but there it is. An estimated page length on all of the ebooks.

I do wish this information would be repeated down in the regular ebook information (and in larger type), but I can see why they put it on top. It’s seen the moment a browser hits the page.

I still intend to put the length information in the description, as I believe this small typeface could easily be missed. Also, I estimate the page length of the story itself, and not everything as it looks like Amazon does. By everything, I mean not only the story, but also the title page, acknowledgments, dedications, copyright pages, and so on.

By the way, as shown in the screenshot, “Glint of a Suncatcher” is available free for a short time. Grab it while you can!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwordsย | iBookstore

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7 comments on “Amazon Ebooks and New Page Count Feature
  1. Cricket says:

    Good idea, and as a reader I appreciate it, but I’d refine it one step further.

    Most non-writers think of paperback pages when reading, not manuscript pages. I don’t remember how many words those are.

    • JA Marlow says:

      I understand what you are saying, however there is a problem. What are the standards?

      In the book industry, 250 words per manuscript page is so much of a standard that some publishers use that exclusively, telling writers to give them the approximate page count using that number to divide their word count with. (not all, but some)

      Then we come to the actual printed book. Whether hardback or paperback, there is NO standard even if two books are the same physical size because of several issues. The following assumes we are talking about the standard Mass Market Paperback:

      Let’s say an author turns in a long book, but the editor wants to go ahead with it as-is without asking the author to trim it. Yet, the publisher still wants to charge $9-15 for it but doesn’t want to lose money on each sale. Each page costs money to print (actually every set of 8), so the typesetters use tricks to get a big book to fit into fewer pages by playing with smaller margins, smaller text, kerning, and so on. On these books the words per page will be higher.

      Then there is the opposite problem with a book that has come out shorter but the publisher still wants to charge $9-$11 for. One these, they will increase the size of the margins, text, kerning and so on. This will make a shorter book appear to be as long as a nearby book that might be 20,000 words or more longer.

      Two books that are the same physical size, and perhaps even the same number of pages. Yet, the number of words per page will be all over the place.

      So, there is no standard in print books. We can guess an average of 300-350 words per page, but even that is a wide range. Sure, Amazon could have chosen to used something in that range, but that would have been them just making a business choice, not taking up a business-recognized standard. Meanwhile, it’s still just 250 words per manuscript page on the publishing end.

  2. I have been putting Short Story or Novella, etc on the cover in small print, but as the image decreases the font is unreadable.

    I looked at my pages but no information on pages. Probably because no sales yet because I just put the ebooks up on Amazon.

    So, great idea to put the page count in the description. I will now do the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • JA Marlow says:

      I put the information on the covers of the shorter ebooks, too (all except one. Have no idea how I missed that), although I try to make the words big enough to read in thumbnail. It’s worked out really well.

      By the way, I hope your ebooks are doing well!

  3. Nancy Beck says:

    Hadn’t seen that before (but I don’t check my stuff everyday or even every week) – thanks for the tip, J.A!

    • JA Marlow says:

      You’re welcome, Nancy. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • JA Marlow says:

        I wanted to mention on this post that the approximate page listing is now showing up in the product detail area. I’ve also noticed that some books are calculated using 350 words per page, but some still appear to be using the manuscript standard of 250 words per page. Who knows what Amazon is actually using to figure it out.

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