There used to be sacrosanct rules in the layout of book interiors. To violate these rules was to scream, as the Germans would say, “Unprofi” or unprofessional. That became one of the sure signs of a self-published book. That is no longer the case. Green considerations about wasting paper and economic considerations about printing costs when margins are so small for the publisher have forced publishers to re-think how books should be laid out.
One of the major changes is the old rule about always beginning new chapters on the recto or right hand side. When a chapter ended on the recto, there would follow a blank page on the next verso or left hand page. That is seen as wasteful today. Chapters’ beginning pages will often be seen on either page, eliminating the need for blank pages on the left. This cuts down on the page count.
Another rule is to not show headers or footers on blank pages and pages where a chapter begins. This is beginning to change. One, there are fewer blank pages. Two, not showing a page number on the start of a chapter, especially when the table of contents gives one is annoying to the reader. The header above the chapter heading still should be eliminated because the page will look too cluttered; however, the page numbers should be placed as footers and they should remain so someone can more easily find a chapter from the TOC.
The inclusion of Library of Congress numbers on the Copyright page. I see these as optional. One, the staff at the LOC seems somewhat overwhelmed by the number of number requests. Two, if you don’t feel there is a large market in the library sector for your book, why bother with it. The librarians are the only folks who refer to these numbers in any way. If your book was designed to sell off the back table at your lectures and your primary sales venues are direct sales or bookstores, don’t bother with the LOC number.
These may seem like small points, but trust me, many publishers agonize over them. If any of you know some other practices which are changing and why, please add a comment below.
This is a cross-posting from Bob Spear’s Book Trends blog.