How wide is the average book?

I am trying to find out how many linear feet, on average, X books would take up on library shelves. Is there a general rule of thumb or scientifically tested idea that says “the average book is X cm wide?” I’m not talking about height or depth, although those statistics would be interesting, too. Thanks!

Thanks to those who answered! Unfortunately, still not what I’m looking for. Is there any estimation figures for the thickness of books? I guess that is the better question. Unlike most other industries who ship lots of things in their supply chains and have to know all the dimensions, libraries don’t seem to know the full dimensions of the books they stock, such as heigh, width, depth, and weight. If they kept track fo things like these, they would be able to better negotiate with parcel carriers and save money… Another story, another time…

For this question, all I am looking for is the average thickness. Granted – some books are like War and Peace; others are the thickness of a thesis. I’m just looking for an “industry average.” Any thoughts? Thanks again!

6 Answers

  • There is a book architects use called Architectural Graphic Standards. Published by Wiley and Son. It gives you information that helps you in space planning. Things like the proper height for a countertop (36 inches) or how much space you should allow for circulation between the chairs and the wall in a dining room (15 inches) or how much space is needed for a wheelchair turnaround in a handicapped bathroom stall (5 feet). When you are space planning, you use the book and look the standards up.

    Standards are based on human dimensions. You study ergonomics and even anatomy in architecture school. You can look up standards like how long the human arm can reach, etc. Those numbers influence your design.

    The standard for books THICKNESS is one to two inches. If I was going to design a library for someone who had 1,000 books, I would use 1,000 to 2,000 running inches of shelf space plus an average of 20% for expansion. New books added to the collection. The correct depth would be 12 inches. Height, you would vary to accommodate different types of books – depending on the collection.

    Hope that helps. Pax – C

    Read my answer again, hon. I did tell you the standard. I checked it in Architectural Graphic Standards for Interiors.

  • An average fiction book (novel) has 50K to 80K words. Each page should contain 250 words– double spaced, font size 12, courier new or arial, 1 inc. margin and 25 lines per page. So, let’s say that you have written 50K words. That’s 200 pages. In MSword, well, that’s different. The above mentioned computations are just the standard ones (used when you submit your manuscript for publication.) More or less, the number of words which could be typed in one page of MSword document is between 20-30 words (observing the double space, font style and size. Oh, and the margin too.) Good luck. -tepishane-

  • Width Of A Book

  • I’ll use the The Penguin Classics Library Complete Collection to help you arrive at an estimate. These trade paperback books are usually of classic novels, plays, epics, or other important works, with contextual information in them. I find that the pages are a bit thinner than in comporable trade paperback books. Anyway the collection contains a total of 1,082 books, and takes about 77 linear feet (23.5 m).

    23.5 m/1082 ≈ 2.17 cm ≈ 0.856 in

    Obviously if you’re also considering large compilations of works, encylcopedias, textbooks, etc., your average thickness will probably go up, but I still feel this is a reasonable estimate (say, for paperback novels).

  • Books come in a wide range of sizes. The average width will depend on which size book you are using.

    Here are some links on book sizes that you may find helpful:……

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