How Resizing a Sketchbook to Digital-Friendly Dimensions Led to Crowdfunding Success

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.

“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.