None of the Above

Q. I work at a major children’s book publisher and have recently noticed a trend in creating books without any blanks at the end of the book. I would like to know if there is a rule on how many back-of-book blank pages are permissible in standard works of fiction (young-adult and middle-grade novels). At various adult publishers, I was taught that up to six pages is acceptable and that having at least a couple of blanks is actually preferable in order to allow for potential changes and additions during pass stages. But I can’t seem to find anything online or in CMS to support that. Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this.

A. In conventional offset printing, large sheets of paper are folded into “signatures” of usually 16 or 32 pages (sometimes 8, or even 48) that are bound together and trimmed to make a book. For this reason, books have a page count that is a multiple of at least 8, and usually 16. Children’s picture books have long been paged at 24, 32, 48, or 64 pages. Middle-grade books page out at larger multiples. Having blank pages in a book isn’t a goal; it is simply unavoidable if the text and illustrations can’t fill all the available space. And since it’s expensive to tear out extra pages by hand, publishers turn a blind eye to the blanks. Digital printing doesn’t involve these large sheets of paper, so if you are seeing a lot of self-published or print-on-demand books, they probably won’t have any leftover pages.