I have an entry in Spanish in which I answer the question «What is a book?» in terms of the number of pages, which according to UNESCO’s criteria, a minimum of 49 pages is required in order not to classify it as a pamphlet, brochure or something else.
This year I have already finished reading several small books in English that meet this size requirement and in the review I thought to include a link to the mentioned entry but, since the entry is in Spanish and (for continuity of the language) I do its review in English, it seemed more appropriate to me to make an entry also in English for when I have to support why I speak of a «book». So, this is where we are.
Without investigating too much and not entering into useless debates, Wikipedia tells us that:
A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many pages (made of papyrus, parchment, vellum, or paper) bound together and protected by a cover. The technical term for this physical arrangement is codex (plural, codices). In the history of hand-held physical supports for extended written compositions or records, the codex replaces its predecessor, the scroll. A single sheet in a codex is a leaf and each side of a leaf is a page.
However, this definition is not limited to the world of print or physical media, given the appearance and rise of new documentary formats and especially the World Wide Web. The digital or electronic book is seeing increased use in the world of books, in professional activities and documentary practice. In addition to these e-books (as they are also known), its content can also be found in audio format which they are called audiobooks.
I also find that unlike the criteria in Spanish, the definition of what a book is for English speakers seems more oriented to the number of words. In my search for a definition in Spanish, where I quickly found the answer, this one turned out to be much more elusive for English, so I decided to extend the one already given in Spanish for our English criteria.
Digging and digging in the Internet I’ve found a lot of interesting answers and editors criteria. Here is a collection of some concepts.
Short shorts or micro-fictions are very abbreviated stories around 100 words; some editor could requiere or accept a few more words. Others will insist in no trespassing this limit. From this and up to 1,000 words, you will find those magazine-like stories which are called flash fiction. From 1,000 thru 7,500 words, we found those short stories usually found in periodicals or anthology collections.
From this point we get into the realm of those stories with 7,500 – 20,000 words which fill several pages in a magazine (novelettes). Then we have novellas of 20,000 up to 50,000 words, novels with more than 50,000 words. Some times the story extends more and the work qualify for an epic novel or a group of them (sequels). An industry standard length of 250 words per page is often cited. So an average of 200-pages manuscripts are 50,000 words.