In printing, a royal octavo is a book size made by folding each sheet of paper three times to create eight leaves (32 pages). Each leaf is then cut down to create a finished book with octavo pages. The name “royal” octavo comes from its use by the King’s Printer in England during the 15th century.
The royal octavo format was used for many of the early printed books, including the Gutenberg Bible. It was also used for the first printed editions of William Shakespeare’s plays. The royal octavo format continued to be used for printed books into the 20th century.
The royal octavo format is smaller than the folio format, which is made by folding each sheet of paper twice to create four leaves (8 pages). The royal octavo format is also smaller than the quarto format, which is made by folding each sheet of paper once to create four leaves (8 pages).
The royal octavo format is well-suited for books that are not too large and not too small. It is easy to carry and can be stored on a shelf without taking up too much space. The royal octavo format is also easy to bind.
Today, royal octavos are not as common, but they are still used for some large format books such as Bibles and dictionaries. They are also sometimes used for special editions of books, such as collector’s editions or limited editions.
The Royal Octavo format was a significant innovation in the history of book printing. By standardizing the size of paper and the margins around the text, it allowed for books to be printed more cheaply and accurately. This made books more accessible to the general public, and helped to spur the spread of literacy and learning. The Royal Octavo format also had a lasting impact on the physical form of books, as the octavo became the standard size for printed books for centuries.