If you intend to print your book, deciding on book size can be challenging. If you’re going with a traditional publisher, the decision may be made for you. However, if you’re self-publishing, you have some things to think about.
When you set out to determine what your book will cost to print, the first question you’ll need to answer is what size you want your book to be. Technically, a book’s dimensions are known as trim size, because these are the dimensions when the book is cut to its final size. Note that some price lists are for specific sizes, while others are for a range of sizes. Following are a few of the industry standards (sizes shown are width x height).
Mass Market Books
These are usually sold off of racks in airports, markets, drugstores, etc. Since these books are usually distributed by traditional publishers, you’re pretty much out of the loop when it comes to size. Usual trim size: 4-1/4″ x 7″.
This category covers most self-published books. Trim size range: 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ to 6″ x 9″. Notice that the width-to-height ratio is about 2:3. This is usually considered ideal for a book page. Therefore, you can go with almost any dimensions that a printer will print, as long as you try to maintain this approximate ratio.
Novels or short story collections
Shorter novels are produced in many different sizes, but probably the most popular trim size range is: 5-1/4″ x 8″ to 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″. In order to avoid becoming bulky at smaller trim sizes, longer novels tend to move up to: 6″ x 9″.
Nonfiction and hardcover books
Perhaps the most popular trim size is: 6″ x 9″. When more page space is needed for sidebars and other graphics, a trim size that’s preferred is: 7″ x 10″.
Manuals, instructional books, workbooks
These books tend to be larger, and often contain lots of graphics, tables, side-bars, or detailed drawings. Trim size range: 8″ x 10″ to 8-1/2″ x 11″. This size also works well for a 2-column layout.
These books cover art, photography, architecture, wildlife, cooking, etc. While they may be any size, they’re frequently printed as large, heavy “coffee-table” books. The format may be oblong or square.
Most books produced by self-publishers tend to be either 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ or 6″ x 9.” These sizes are very effective and readable, and they work for many book genres. If you’re trying to decide, you might visit a local library or bookstore to see what sizes are on their shelves, but it’s likely that one of the above industry standard sizes will work best for you.
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