What’s the perfect book size? There are many answers to that question. Choosing a book size depends on your book’s genre, your readers’ expectations, and the potential printing costs. Here are some things to keep in mind when you make the decision that’s right for you.
Measuring Book Size
The term “book size” means the size of book after printing. This is the finished size after cutting off the trim. It’s the size of the pages of the book, regardless of the cover. That’s why publishers and printers sometimes refer to “trim size” when talking about book sizes.
A hardcover book in the same trim size as a paperback book will look larger because the hard cover is larger than a paperback cover, and it overlaps the page edges. But if you measure the pages inside, they are the same size as those in a paperback of the same trim size.
Deciding on the perfect book size for your book will depend on:
- Industry printing standards
- Page count
- Paper cost
- Profit margin
Why Book Size Matters
When you market your novel or nonfiction book to bookstores, libraries, and other retailers, your book should fit what readers expect. When deciding on the perfect book size, think about titles like yours. What book sizes predominate in your chosen genre?
Readers expect certain things from their favorite genres, and the book’s size is one of those. Children’s picture books are expected to be large with full-color, full-bleed illustrations. Romance and mystery novels should be smaller because readers are more likely to grab these books and tuck them into a suitcase or pocketbook. For an art book or coffee table book, you have many options, but the expectation is still for a large, high-quality book that the buyer can display with pride.
Libraries and bookstores also like uniformity in book size. Your book should sit comfortably on the shelf with others. If you choose the perfect book size, your book will look right at home on those shelves.
In the end, your choice may come down to personal taste. Do you like reading larger books or smaller ones? Do your potential readers prefer one type or the other?
Your personal preferences are an important factor in choosing a book size. How do you want your finished book to feel in the reader’s hand? If your book has a low word count, consider a smaller trim size to make the book feel more solid in the reader’s hand. If your book has a high word count, choose a larger size to get more words on every page and save on printing costs.
In most cases, the larger your book, the more it will cost you to print it. To cover costs, you may have to raise the price that readers pay for your book. If you are publishing to print on a self-publishing platform, your costs will also go up.
Will you be able to attract readers willing to pay a higher price? For some books, especially children’s books and art books, readers expect to pay more and won’t blink at the higher price. For a first-time novelist, however, the higher price point may keep them away. In those cases, you may want to make a smaller profit to keep your book price low.
Hardcover is still the preferred industry standard for new books released to bookstores. Hardcover books are large and durable. They give a lot of perceived value to readers, who will buy the hardcover of a favorite author or new best-seller as soon as it comes out. They are also the most expensive to produce and sell.
The trade paperback is the second most popular industry standard. Many popular hardcovers later come out in a paperback edition. This option is the usual choice of first-time writers who want to conserve costs.
Mass-market paperbacks are not as popular as they once were, but they are still around. These are cheaply and quickly produced books that use less paper and lower-quality printing standards. Mass-market books are used to re-release older books at lower prices or in response to current events.
If your book is a children’s book, art book, or cookbook, it is likely to be printed on white paper. White paper helps the book’s illustrations and photos look their best.
Design Choices Affect Book Sizing
Your design and layout options can also change the size of your book. Consider these when choosing a book size.
- Font: The font size will affect the page count of your book.
- Line spacing: Choosing double-spaced text will call for a larger page number. Children’s books tend to have very wide spacing and large fonts.
- Margins: The gutter margin is the white space surrounding the text on every page. A gutter margin prevents text from disappearing in the book creases.
- Bleed: If you are using full-bleed pictures, as many art books and children’s books do, your illustrations will cover the page without any white space or margins.
- Paper choice: Choosing thicker paper will increase the bulk of your book and may necessitate choosing a larger trim size.
Book Size Standards in the Publishing Industry
When you choose the perfect book size, it’s important to work with publishing industry standards. Choosing a standard, accepted size will make it easier to print your book at an affordable rate. It also makes it easier to market your book to bookstores, libraries, and retailers.
- Children’s books: 7” x 10,” “5” x 8,” 11” x 8.5,” or 8.5” x 8.5”.
- Novels: 5” x 8.” Most literary and general fiction novels are printed in this size. Another popular option is 6” x 9”.
- Genre fiction: 4 x 7,” 5” x 8,” 5.25” x 8,” 5.5” x 8.5,” or 6” x 9.” Genre fiction means fiction that fits into a specific category, including romance, mystery, horror, science fiction, and fantasy.
- Nonfiction books: 5.5” x 8.5,” 6” x 9,” or 7” x 10.” Non-fiction is a broad category that can include memoirs, textbooks, biographies, historical writings and more. Choose the size that best fits your book’s specific category.
- Art and photo books: 10”x8,” “9”x12,” 11”x,11,” 12”x12”, 11”x8.5”, or 8.5”x8.5”. These books allow more flexibility and variety because they are designed to showcase artistic works. However, they still should fit standard publishing sizes.
- Cookbook: 8” x 11”, 11” x 11”, or larger. Like children’s books, they tend to be larger and have many full-color illustrations.
- Coffee table books: These are typically the same sizes as art and photo books.
- Comic books: 6.625” x 10.25”.
Choose the Book Size That’s Right for You
There are several options when it comes to choosing the perfect book size. Keeping close to expected industry standards will help your book fit in when marketing and selling. Esthetics, design, and personal preferences also play their part. When you decide to print your book, work with a professional printer like Dazzle Printing who can walk you through the process of designing and printing your first book.