Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, 1Q84, was Japan’s top selling book when its first two volumes were published last year. A third is out this summer—and Murakami has suggested that he might even write a fourth. Audiences are excited. But how to print such a (potentially) big book, asks Monocle?
Although Murakami says the books can each stand alone, the whole novel is already running to over 1600 pages, a challenge for the publishers of the eventual paperback. The standard size for a Japanese paperback is a dainty 15 x 10.5cm, perfect for slipping into a handbag or reading on a crowded train. Keeping things diminutive, however, requires books to be divided into manageable sections. Novels are frequently split in two and published in parts, referred to as the top and bottom (and in the case of chunkier books, top, middle and bottom). 1Q84 could end up being like War and Peace and published in multiple small volumes.
American readers will get a single-volume English translation of 1Q84 in 2011, thus depriving them of the thrill of the tease as well as the probably incredible cuteness of many “dainty” volumes.