Why do page counts vary so much?

A note on page-counts: I’ve included them throughout. Doing this serves two purposes:

  • The high page-counts reveal the rough scale of the task you are taking on by reading the book, something you can also gauge by looking at photos that show spine-thickness.
  • Low page-counts indicate that the book is an abridgement or retelling.

There is a large variation in the page-counts between unabridged versions because:

  • Each version contains different front matter and back matter (introduction, end notes, etc.).
  • The page size, page margins, font, font size, and line spacing vary from book to book.

Thus you should realize that “how many pages is the novel” is a question that has no one correct answer, but rather a range of answers.

Books written in contemporary English should have a static word count, regardless of how they are typeset, but this is not a figure that is commonly known or used by readers. Moreover, for works written in an older style of English, the word count could change dramatically if an editor updates the work to reflect modern spelling and punctuation conventions. Word counts will of course vary for works translated into English, as translations can never represent the original text word-for-word.