October 20, 2014
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes

Not all books that First Second graphic novels are the same dimensions, have the same color palette and use the same paper stock.  We do have a few sizes that are more or less ‘standard’ for our books, the truth is that the books we publish are a number of different shapes and sizes.

Our two ‘standard’ sizes here at First Second are 6 x 8 1/2 and 7 1/2 x 10.  Here are two books in these sizes — The Wrenchies and The Unsinkable Walker Bean.  Generally, the larger size is for younger titles, while the smaller size is for teen and adult books.  Both of them are trade paperbacks, rather than hardcovers.

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We choose these two sizes to work well within the book market — so that they could fit on the shelves at schools, libraries, and bookstores.  We also want them to create a reading experience similar to reading a novel — in that they should physically feel just like ‘regular books’ (ie, prose books) for readers — and parents of readers! — who are just getting into graphic novels.

But we also publish a lot of books in other sizes as well!

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Big books!  Small books!  Sideways books!  Hardcover and paperback books!  Books with and without flaps!  Books in boxes!  Etc.

Why so many sizes, given my previous statements about standardization and echoing the book market?

Well, it turns out that all books are different!  And sometimes, that means what’s going to work best for the book is to publish it in a different size than our usual.

This is something that’s come up when talking about one of our recent graphic novels, The Rise of Aurora West, by Paul Pope, JT Petty, and David Rubin.

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Last year, we published Paul Pope’s graphic novel Battling Boy, in our standard 6 x 8 1/2 trim size.  It’s a sci-fi adventure book for kids ages 10 and up; we thought that this size was good for children that young (it fits in their hands as well as on their bookshelves!) that’s still big enough to show off how gorgeous Paul’s artwork is.

This year, we published The Rise of Aurora West in a smaller trim size — 5 x 7 1/2 — and in black and white.

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Why the difference in sizes?

The two books are set in the same universe, but they’re pretty different!  The Rise of Aurora West is a book for young adults, featuring a teen character with a coming-of-age story.  It’s also a noir mystery, and it’s drawn by a different artist, David Rubin.

To play on those differences (and to make it clear that there were differences between the two titles), we decided to change the format of the book itself.

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We think both books look pretty great!  And we hope you do, too.

Our number one priority when we publish a book is to publish it as well as we can, and part of that, for us, means choosing a format that we think best fits the material, while at the same making the book accessible to the ultimate audience: the readers.

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