Book Sizes: Selecting The Right One For Your Book

Book Sizes: Selecting The Right One For Your Book

One of the decisions you have as an independent publisher, taking the ‘real self publishing’ path is what book size you’ll have.

The size of the book is referred to as the ‘trim size’. It’s called this because that’s the actual size of the book once it has been trimmed bound at the printer.

It’s important to decide on a suitable trim size earlier on in your book production as it’s required to determine such things as; the cost to print and ship it and how many pages it might have. This helps determine the thickness of your book and the potential perceived value to the customer when pricing.

There are a number of conventions that are worth keeping in mind when selecting your trim size. These aren’t “hard-and-fast-rules”, but a guideline to what is considered standard practice.

Below are some reference tables for helping you in deciding a trim size.
Section A: Is the most common, industry standard trim sizes used and the available paper types for each.
Section B: Is the list of trim sizes available by Ingram/Lightning Source the largest of all print on demand companies, and Amazon’s Createspace which has a similar list.

Section A

Most common, industry standard book/trim sizes and available paper types

Book type: trade paperbacks

Trim size (Book size): 5”x 8”, 5.5”x 8.5”, 6”x 9”
Paper type available: crème or white
This is the most common of self published books. Used widely between fiction and nonfiction books.

Book type: novels

Trim size (Book size): 5”x 8”, 5.5”x 8.5”, 6”x 9”
Paper type available: crème or white
These come in a wide variety of sizes. For a shorter book a smaller size can increase the thickness and the perceived value of the book. Longer novels can benefit from the 6” x 9” size, so it’s easier to handle.

Book type: general nonfiction

Trim size (Book size): 5”x 8”, 5.5”x 8.5”, 5.83″x 8.27″/A5, 6”x 9”
Paper type available: crème or white
The most popular size today is 6”x 9”, for both paperbacks and hardcovers. The extra room allows room for more complex layout requirements such as tables, pull quotes, lists and diagrams.

Book type: short story anthologies & novellas

Trim size (Book size): 5.25”x 8”, 5”x 8”, 5.5”x 8.5”
Paper type available: crème or white
Sizing remains quite varied. Today it’s becoming more common and cost effective to publish novellas as eBooks.

Book type: children’s picture books

Trim size (Book size): 7”x 10”, 8”x 10”, 8.5″x 8.5″
Paper type available: white
These are the most common sizes for picture books. The sizing largely depends on the unique layout of the illustrations.

Book type: art books and workbooks

Trim size (Book size): 8”x 10”, 8.5”x 11”, 9”x 10”
Paper type available: white
Sizing varies extensively with this group of books. The sizing allows for complex layout such as multiple columns and diagrams. The larger sizes are used for books that showcase portfolios such as photography and general coffee table books.

Section B

Ingram/Lightning Source and Createspace trim size availability

Ingram/Lightning Source

5 x 8 inches (203 x 127mm)
5.06 x 7.81 inches (198 x 129mm)
5.25 x 8 inches (203 x 133mm)
5.5 x 8.5 inches (216 x 140mm)
5.83 x 8.27 inches (210 x 148mm)
6 x 9 inches (229 x 152mm)
6.14 x 9.21 inches (234 x 156mm)
6.69 x 9.61 inches (244 x 170mm)
7.44 x 9.69 inches (246 x 189mm)
7.5 x 9.25 inches (235 x 191mm)
7 x 10 inches (254 x 178mm)
8 x 10 inches (254 x 203mm)
8.25 x 11 inches (280 x 210mm)
8.268 x 11.693 inches (A4) (297 x 210mm)
8.5 x 11 inches (280 x 216mm)

Createspace

5 x 8 inches (12.7 x 20.32cm)
5.06 x 7.81 inches (12.9 x 19.8cm)
5.25 x 8 inches (13.335 x 20.32cm)
5.5 x 8.5 inches (13.97 x 21.59cm)
6 x 9 inches (15.24 x 22.86cm)
6.14 x 9.21 inches (15.6 x 23.4cm)
6.69 x 9.61 inches (17 x 24.4cm)
7.44 x 9.69 inches (18.9 x 24.6cm)
7.5 x 9.25 inches (19.1 x 23.5cm)
7 x 10 inches (17.78 x 25.4cm)
8 x 10 inches (20.32 x 25.4cm)
8.25 x 6 inches (20.955 x 15.24cm)
8.25 x 8.25 inches (20.955 x 20.955cm)
8.5 x 8.5 inches (21.59 x 21.59cm)
8.5 x 11 inches (21.59 x 27.94cm)

Additionally, there is also what’s known as mass market paperbacks which commonly fall between 4”x 7” to 4.25”x 7”. These aren’t usually published by independent authors and publishers, as they are sold via supermarkets and corner stores and used by trade publishers to release long running, top selling books at reduced prices of your typical trade paperback.

My preference for the average 40-60k word novel is 5.5”x 8.5”. It’s a nice balance between it fitting nicely in your hands and readability of the text size.

Paper types

Along with selecting your trim size, you’ll also select your paper type. You have the choice between crème and white paper. The former is recommended for novels, memoirs, short story anthologies and novellas. Some nonfiction personal development books have also used crème. The main reason for this, is because it’s easier on the eyes when reading for extended periods.

White paper is selected for many nonfiction books, children’s picture books and image heavy books. This is so the image colour looks its best and helps them pop off the page.

Both Createspace and Ingram/Lightning Source have a limit on which trim sizes are available with crème paper, this is to be in line with industry standards across the board with all distributors and retailers. Trim sizes of 5”x 8”, 5.25”x 8”, 5.5”x 8” or 6”x 9″ are only available in crème when looking to use expanded distribution.

Which trim size should you choose?

Most independent authors and publishers use either 5.5”x 8.5” or 6”x 9” for their novels or nonfiction books. These are good, reliable trim sizes that present a good reading experience for both non-fiction and novels. From these two sizes, it really comes down to personal preference as the manufacturing costs and time is virtually the same for each.

When looking to make your final decision for the size of your book, just keep in mind which paper colour you want to use, your genre and run with an industry standard where possible as it’ll allow you to change printers with very little alterations (if any) to your book files.

Just refer to section A above, which has narrowed down the best options for you which should make it easier helping you decide.

Anthony

6 Responses to Book Sizes: Selecting The Right One For Your Book

    • Coffee table books tend to be a wider portrait size, or square. If you print with a local printer you’ll have your pick of sizes. But if you intend to use print on demand then you’re going to be limited with your size options. Consider deciding on a printing method first that suits your goals and method of sales, and then decide on a book size.

  1. Hello Anthony,
    I will soon be self-publishing my first picture book on Amazon (Kindle and Create Space.) Which is the most popular size for picture books, 8X10 or 8.5X11?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Erica. They are both a good choice for size, as they are compatible with print on demand and local printers. The 8×10 is the more popular out of the two sizes for projects we work on, and it’s also going to be cheaper per/print unit cost as well, being a touch smaller.

  2. I am trying to find the most common size for cookbooks with hardcovers and beautiful photography. Like an art book, but definitely for kitchen use. Thoughts?

    • Hi Suzannah. Choosing a size will depend on what printer you’re using. You’ll have more choice for book sizes with a local printer than you will with POD. Generally, the wider book sizes are used for cookbooks. Refer to the section above “Book type: art books and workbooks“.

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