Recently one of my colleagues shouted “We should just make them quote the right page count” when discovering that our website had page counts which often end with odd numbers.

Unfortunately there’s really no “right” page count for a book. Production and manufacturing people think of the page count as being the sum of all the pages in the book: front matter + text & back matter + (if there is one) a photo section which isn’t an insert. They will want this to be a multiple of 8, and include blanks to make the book come out to an even working. So a book may be 128 pages but never 127 or 126. Marketing and sales tend to focus on the last numbered page in the book, ignoring the front matter, so a page count of 127 is perfectly acceptable to them. The reader is probably most interested in the last page of the text: we all do these mental calculations — “I’m on page 96. It ends on 324; so I’m almost a third of the way through”. Ebooks do make that more precise — though I don’t really think I like being told I am 73% of the way through.

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