Sketchbooks come in standard sizes: 4″x6″, 5″x7″, 7″x10″, 8.5″x11″, 9″x12″, and 11″x14″ for perfect-bound, and 14″x17″, 18″x24″, and 24″x36″ for spiral-bound. All of those sizes are vestiges of when paper was made by hand; the standard 8.5″ x 11″, for instance, is related to the arm reach of the average Dutch paper mill worker in the 1600s.
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“Many molds at that time were around 17″ front to back” to accommodate their reach, according to the American Forest & Paper Assocation. “To maximize the efficiency of paper making, a sheet this big was made, and then quartered, forming four 8.5″ x 11″ pieces.”
In this day and age, however, we’re as likely as not to sketch at our desk–where a keyboard or laptop take up much of the available real estate–and scan the sketch into digital form. Thus a London-based group of designers calling themselves Orangered Life resized the sketchbook to fit in that space between keyboard and desk’s edge, resulting in the BetterBook:
By sizing it in this manner, the team not only aimed to make it fit handily on a desk primarily used for a computer, but also chose an aspect ratio that they reckon best matches a monitor or smartphone screen.
They also inset the paper so that the larger cover would leave a black border around the sketch. This was done to maximize ease of using a scanning app.
When the BetterBook’s Kickstarter launched last month, I dismissed it as a gimmick and figured demand would be weak. I was wrong. I just checked the Kickstarter campaign, and it was successfully crowdfunded with £59,090 (USD $77,617) in pledges.
While the campaign is over, interested buyers can still pre-order one here.