Understanding book sizes and how to choose them. A guide for self-publishers (2022)

There are other articles online which describe standard book sizes and make suggestions, especially to self-publishers, of the appropriate options for their category of book. The starting point is often the online book production options which are available and the formats they offer. I wanted to have a more in-depth look into the rationale underpinning book sizes, whether they are common ‘industry-standard’ or bespoke options.

A visit to a bricks and mortar bookshop or a glance at your own shelves shows any bookworm that their beloved objects can be grouped into a range of sizes. Compared to our music or movie collections our book sizes look positively random. There would appear to be more sizing options than for other platforms but at the same time a set of time-honoured sizes clearly exists.

The industry jargon for book sizing is the Trimmed Page Size (TPS) and this is how book size should be expressed when communicating with a printer. As the name suggests this is the size only of the bound pages rather than the size of the hardback cover, if it has one. The TPS is often dubbed the ‘Format’.

I will broaden this out and advise that when considering the size of your book you also think in terms of the number of pages (the ‘Extent’ or ‘Page Count’). A third element of book size is the Orientation, most commonly Portrait (the longest side being the vertical) or Landscape (most often seen in Photography or Children’s Books).

Various of the online self-publishing options (the short run or print on demand variety) offer a limited choice of sizes which are quite similar across the range of providers. The options are often opaquely labelled ‘industry-standard’. This reveals nothing of the rationale which any publisher needs to apply to their choice of size, nor does it give any insight into how the most common sizes came to exist.

The standardisation comes from the overlapping considerations of the commercial matters of marketing and profit margin, the practicalities and cost of book production and the creative drivers of content and design.

(Video) Self-Publishing Advice - Choosing a SIZE for your book!

Some very common book sizes (for black and white, text-led books at least) are known, within the publishing industry, simply as ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ formats. ‘A’ is the cheapest to make, physically the smallest and usually on sale at the lowest price.

These sizes aren’t absolutely uniform but they tend to be used consistently by each publisher and, give or take a few millimetres, they are the same as everybody else’s.

Typical sizes for these formats would be (all quoted height first and using metric measurements):

A — 178 x 111 mm

B — 198 x 129 mm

C — 234 x 156 mm

A fourth size, Demy (Dem-eye) is also in common use in the UK. At 216 x 135mm it sits between B and C in terms of size.

(Video) What Size Should Your Book Be? / Self-Publishing / Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Book sizes have a meaning in the market place in that the choice of format typically reflects the publisher’s perception of that book and the likely audience and retail outlets for it. The size is a category marker, if nothing else.

A ‘C’ format (often in the UK known as ‘Royal’) would tend to be used for the first published edition of a title. This is often, but not always, a hardback. It’s a general-purpose size used for fiction and non-fiction.

Six to twelve months later a publisher will then tend to release the book in an A or B format paperback, at a cheaper price. An A format will generally be fiction aimed at a broad or genre market, with B being seen as somewhat more up-market, used for more serious non-fiction or more ‘literary’ fiction titles.

There are frequent exceptions to these rules. The first edition may be published in a smaller format than royal simply because the book isn’t very long, for example.

It’s an over-statement to say formats have a definitive meaning, in marketing terms, but I would suggest any indie publisher does their research into the format and other characteristics (page count, binding and also the selling price) of existing titles aimed at the same audience as the book they have in mind.

This is not to suggest you blindly follow suit, but it is certainly important to see what the competition has done before you. You need some framework for making these kind of decisions for your own project.

Am I saying sizes are just about market placement? I’m not. Formats exist which have a received significance in marketing terms, but the design and manufacturing of books is the underlying basis for the formats which exist.

(Video) How Big Will My Book Be? (Includes book size examples)

Printing presses, whether they are Digital or Litho will be able to use paper (in sheets or reels) in a limited range of sizes. Manufacturing hardware, both for printing and binding, is very expensive. Different vendors will have certain book sizes available based on the hardware they have chosen to buy and the sizes of paper theses presses and bindery equipment can use. I look at this some more in the section on Specification in my post about what to consider at the very beginning of a book project

The most cost-effective book sizes are based on using that paper and equipment efficiently, to print as many pages as possible in an arrangement suitable for folding into a Signature. This arrangement is known as an Imposition. A number of signatures is printed then folded and bound together to make each copy of your book.

Understanding book sizes and how to choose them. A guide for self-publishers (1)

If the printer can produce a given TPS in signatures of 4, 8, 16 or 32 (typical numbers of pages suitable for folding) then the total page count of your book will be the sum total of the pages in each of the signatures. This is why you sometimes see books with blank pages in the back, or advertisements for other books. The text didn’t quite fill all the pages in the last signature.

If you want something bespoke and have a particular size in mind (even approximately) then shopping around is essential to finding a printer who is a good fit for your preferred dimensions. You could use someone with book production experience to short-cut that process. This will also connect you with printers that person will probably have worked with before, has a relationship with and can therefore recommend on grounds of quality, service and price. I am such a person so obviously I would vouch for the benefits of using an expert.

Standard sizes like those listed earlier usually work perfectly well in monochrome text-led titles, so the common offerings are mostly uncontroversial assuming the material doesn’t lend itself to an iconoclastic text design.

(Video) CHOOSING THE SIZE OF YOUR BOOK (& how to RESIZE it) | Formatting a novel in WORD (Formatting part 4)

In colour illustrated publishing, which is where I specialise, you see more variety in book sizes. Pure production logic would suggest we all stick with a small number of optimum sizes, but in reality formats are frequently design-led. This is necessary to accommodate the designers’ work laying out the text and artwork in a way that is attractive and provides an enjoyable experience for the reader. A standard format can sometimes be a limiting factor.

Before digital photography became the norm 35mm slide film was a common option for professional photographers. Those slides had a 3:2 vertical to horizontal ratio. Digital photography has revolutionised that craft but you still see huge numbers of books (especially in food and cookery publishing) which reflect that previous 3:2 norm.

Photography in medium, square or landscape formats, or other artwork in any shape or size, can tend towards more bespoke sizes of book. Your source material, and what a designer might do with it, therefore adds another layer to the book size decision-making process.

The production challenge is to find a size which provides the designer with the scope they need but without excessively adding to the cost of the manufacturing. Quite small changes to a page size can have a disproportionate impact on cost, so healthy dialogue at the outset of a project is crucial, involving the content, design and production specialists and the print supplier, alongside the necessary figure-work.

Pondering the size of your book segues into further discussion of the selling price, the quantity and generally the level of production you want, considered in the context of your overall budget, whether it’s your own money or a crowdfunding target you need to set.

These are all key strategic considerations and they need to be in harmony, and not considered in isolation, to produce a book which is attractive and good value to the buyer while forecasting a good per-copy return to the publisher.

Changing the size once you are well underway with design and layout isn’t something your designer or typesetter will thank you for, and will almost certainly add to your costs, so time spent researching your market sector and the manufacturing options at the beginning of your project is essential.

(Video) Book Size Guide - Printing with 48 Hour Books

There are details of your specification you can leave until later but the size of your book is something you need to consider fully, and commit to, from an early stage.

FAQs

How do I choose a book size? ›

Which trim size should you choose? Most independent authors and publishers use either 5.5ʺ × 8.5ʺ or 6ʺ × 9ʺ for their novels or nonfiction books. These are good, reliable trim sizes that present a good reading experience for both non-fiction and novels.

What are the different types of book sizes? ›

Here are the standard sizes.
  • Hardcover books are mostly 6″ x 9″. ...
  • Trade Paperbacks have a few different sizes, ranging from 5″ by 8″ to 6″ x 9″. ...
  • Mass Market Paperbacks are also known as pocket paperbacks and measure only 4.25″ by 6.87″. ...
  • Paperback memoirs can be as small as 5.25″ by 8″.
18 Mar 2022

What are the standard book sizes in publishing? ›

Here are the standard book sizes for the major book genres:
  • Fiction: 4.25” x 6.87” (pocket book), 5” x 8”, 5.25” x 8,” 5.5” x 8.5,” 6” x 9”. ...
  • Non-fiction: These three sizes are standard: 5.5” x 8.5,” 6” x 9,” 7” x 10." This category covers memoirs, biographies, historical writings, textbooks, and more.
25 Jul 2022

What size books sell the best on? ›

For fiction and nonfiction books published in the US, the most popular trim size is 5.5 x 8.5 in (127 x 203 mm) or 6 x 9 in (156 x 234 mm).

What is the most common book size? ›

4 Standard Trim Sizes in Publishing
  • Mass market paperback books: This type of book is nearly always 4.25 x 6.87”.
  • Comic books: Comics are nearly always 6.625 x 10.25”
  • Trade paperbacks: Most fiction and general nonfiction books range from 5 x 8” to 6 x 9”.
13 Aug 2021

What type size are most books? ›

For most books, a font size between 10 and 12 is generally used for fiction and non-fiction printed books. Basic recommendations for font selection: Fiction, memoirs, and (auto)biographies: A classic serif font that is easy to read is the safest choice.

What are the 7 types of books? ›

What are the different types of books?
  • Adventure stories.
  • Classics.
  • Crime.
  • Fairy tales, fables, and folk tales.
  • Fantasy.
  • Historical fiction.
  • Horror.
  • Humour and satire.
22 Apr 2022

Why are books published in different sizes? ›

The truth is that book sizes vary based on each individual book — and publishers determine these sizes based on economic, practical, and artistic factors. If you're a self-publisher planning to produce physical copies of your book, you might be wondering if this should matter to you.

What is B5 book size? ›

B5 Size Notebook

Sometimes referred to as the Composition or Extra-Large notebook, this book is 190 x250 mms (7.48 x 9.84 inches) of blank space for plotting and planning. It makes an epic illustrated journal or scrapbook but is equally practical for course work.

What is octavo book size? ›

The use of the term "octavo" as applied to such books refers to books which are generally between 8 to 10 inches (200 to 250 mm) tall, the most common size for modern hardbound books. More specific sizes are denoted by reference to certain paper sizes as follows: Foolscap octavo (6¾" by 4¼") (170 mm x 108 mm)

What is the most popular paperback book size? ›

Trade Paperbacks

These are the most common book sizes for most fiction and nonfiction books. The two most popular sizes in the U.S. are 5.5” by 8.5” (“digest”) and 6” by 9”.

What size is a A5 book? ›

A5 booklets measure at 148 x 210 mm and are slightly smaller than A4 booklets but still offer ample visual and content space for you to feature your brand's bestselling products and services.

What kind of book sells the most? ›

Romance: Romance novels are perhaps the most popular genre in terms of book sales. Romance novels are sold in grocery store checkout lines, in monthly shipments from publishers to readers, and online, as well as via self-publishing services. Readers tend to be loyal to their favorite authors within the romance genre.

What is the number 1 most sold book? ›

The Bible. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, having sold around 5 billion copies to date. The book had several authors and can be roughly divided into two parts: The Old Testament and the New Testament.

What is the number 1 selling book of all time? ›

According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

How many pages is a good size book? ›

When wondering how many pages a book should be, it is notable that the average book length is between 200-400 pages. With this in mind, what considerations should be taken when deciding how long a book should be? Check comparable titles. Go to a bookstore and find your book's genre.

What is standard book format? ›

What is the standard book format? The standard book format varies from one publisher to another, based on your preferences and the genre. But they usually range from 5 x 8 to 6 x 9. Other popular sizes include 4.25 x 6.87 (mass market paperback), 5.5 x 8.5, 5.25 x 8, 7 x 10, and 6.625 x 10.187 (comic books).

Is A5 a good book size? ›

A5 Book Size

This is a book size which we are pretty sure most of you have come across or heard of. We produce many books within the A5/Demi size from novels to guidebooks, to children's books. You can't go wrong with books of this size, which is probably why they are a very popular choice within the book industry.

What font do publishers prefer? ›

Font: Your font should generally be 12 point Times New Roman. Though some agents and editors may prefer different serif or sans serif fonts like Arial or Courier New, Times New Roman with a 12 point font size is the industry standard.

What font size is most readable? ›

Size. Choose a font that's at least 16 pixels, or 12 points. If many of your users are older adults, consider using an even larger font size—19 pixels or 14 points. A small font size is more difficult to read, especially for users with limited literacy skills and older adults.

What is the best font and size for a book? ›

Compact-width fonts, e.g., Times Roman, look best in 11 or 12 points. Wider fonts, e.g., Palatino, look best in a smaller font size, usually 10 or 11 points. "Large print" books are at least 14 points.

How many copies does a book have to sell to be a bestseller? ›

The category and window of your release all significantly impact the number of copies required to hit the NYT bestseller list, but 5,000 copies during any one-week period is the minimum.

What are the six basic stories? ›

This gets along well with Kurt Vonnegut's research on the six basic plots in literature.
...
That said, Vonnegut's six basic plots are:
  • Rags to Riches (Rise)
  • Riches to Rags (Fall)
  • Man in a Hole (Fall, then rise)
  • Icarus (Rise, then fall)
  • Cinderella (Rise, fall, rise)
  • Oedipus (Fall, rise, fall)
3 Mar 2020

How does book size affect reading? ›

These findings suggested that print size effects in reading are related to the spatiotemporal contrast sensitivity of vision. More specifically, the slow decline in reading speed for very large letters may be due to a corresponding decline in contrast sensitivity for low spatial frequencies.

Why shorter books are better? ›

Short books are easier to read (and re-read) in terms of time spent, often pack a lot of emotion, plot development, etc in less pages, and feel better to finish more of them.

Is B5 a good book size? ›

The B5 (176 mm x 250 mm) is a little bigger and grander than the 6” x 9”, and can make a big impression. It is a great option for history books, especially if you want to include photographs, as historical photos and illustrations look wonderful on the larger pages.

What is the difference between B5 and A5? ›

The B paper sizes are a bit larger than their A series counterparts and are based on the geometric mean of two consecutive A series sheets. For example, B4 is between A3 and A4 in size, and B5 is between A4 and A5.

Are books A5 or A6? ›

Paper and book sizes
SizeHeight by widthNote
A5210x148mm
Demy216x138mm
A6148x105mm
222×120222x120mmOptimum 48pp section size
11 more rows

Are A5 and B5 same size? ›

The sizing of B-series sheets is calculated from the geometric mean of the A-series. For example, a B5 sheet is sized between an A4 and A5 sheet.

What is Demy book size? ›

Standard Book Sizes Info
Book (trim) sizeHeight x width
B Format (US)203 x 127mm
A5210 x 148mm
Demy216 x 138mm
American Royal229 x 152mm
7 more rows

What does 4to mean in books? ›

Definition of '4to'

1. a book size resulting from folding a sheet of paper, usually crown or demy, into four leaves or eight pages, each one quarter the size of the sheet.

What does 12mo mean in books? ›

12mo (usually uncountable, plural 12mos) (paper) Abbreviation of duodecimo, a page size (5"-5.5" x 7.125"-7.5") (printing) A book size using duodecimo-sized pages.

What size should my paperback be? ›

Here are the more common sizes for various book types: For fiction: 4.25 x 6.87” (mass market paperback), 5 x 8”, 5.25 x 8”, 5.5 x 8.5”, or 6 x 9” For novellas: almost always 5 x 8”

What kind of paper are most books printed on? ›

What Type of Paper are Books Printed on? Most printed books, use uncoated paper stocks for the inside pages of the book, and a coated cover stock for the book cover. Uncoated stocks come in different finishes and paper weights. Uncoated paper comes in two different finishes, either a vellum or smooth finish.

What's the average word count for a book? ›

Average Word Count For A Novel

The average word count for adult fiction is between 70,000 to 120,000 words. For children's fiction, the general rule is the younger the audience the shorter the book, and for YA novels the average is 50,000-70,000 words. Non-fiction word counts sit between 70,000-120,000 words.

Are most books in A5? ›

The most widely used standard book sizes for school books include: A4 – 210 x 297 mm. A5 – 148 x 210 mm. B5 – 176 x 250 mm.

What size is an A6 book? ›

What is the A6 size for booklets? A6 booklets are far smaller than A4 booklets with a measurement of 105 x 148 mm. These make for ideal promotional materials as they are lightweight and easy to carry.

Which size is bigger A4 or A5? ›

While several mobile printers offer A5 printing facilities, many standard home printers offer A5 prints, as it is half the size of A4, allowing two A5 prints to be printed on one sheet of A4.

What size is a 6x9 book? ›

Trade Book 6 × 9 in. ( 15 × 23 cm)
Cover Size
Hardcover (Dust Jacket)Cover Size 6.25 × 9.25 in (15.88 × 23.50 cm)
Hardcover (ImageWrap)Cover Size 6.25 × 9.25 in (15.88 × 23.50 cm)
SoftcoverCover Size 6.00 × 9.00 in (15.24 × 22.86 cm)

What is A5 book size? ›

A5 booklets measure at 148 x 210 mm and are slightly smaller than A4 booklets but still offer ample visual and content space for you to feature your brand's bestselling products and services.

What is a good font size for a 6x9 book? ›

Depending upon the target audience, fonts like Times Roman look best in 11 or 12 point and wider fonts usually 10 or 11 points looks better. Large printing books can go upto 14 point.

Is A4 a good size for a book? ›

A4 Portrait

A size often used for textbooks and comics, A4 standard book size is 297×210mm. This size is flexible because, when in landscape, it can be used for a children's title. A4 is the go-to size for when you are an author interested in relaying a lot of information with graphic elements, or just illustrations.

What font are most books written in? ›

The most widely used typefaces for book body text include Baskerville, Bembo, Garamond, Janson, Palatino, and Times Roman (although this more of a newspaper font). Sans serif fonts may be difficult to read for an entire book.

Which is bigger A5 or B5? ›

The sizing of B-series sheets is calculated from the geometric mean of the A-series. For example, a B5 sheet is sized between an A4 and A5 sheet.

Whats bigger A5 or B6? ›

Essentially, the B sizes fit roughly in between the A sizes, so that B6 is halfway in size between A5 and A6.

What is the most readable font size for print? ›

For printed materials, the optimal point size when choosing a font for print is between 10-12 points, however legibility at this size can vary greatly between different typefaces. Always print out your project at 100% size (without scaling) to determine if the font size is legible for your printed project.

Which book is bigger A3 or A4? ›

The A3 size print measures 29.7 x 42.0cm, 11.69 x 16.53 inches, if mounted 40.6 x 50.8cm, 15.98 x 20 inches. The A4 size print measures 21.0 x 29.7cm, 8.27 x 11.69 inches, if mounted 30.3 x 40.6cm, 11.93 x 15.98 inches.

Is A5 size good for books? ›

This is a book size which we are pretty sure most of you have come across or heard of. We produce many books within the A5/Demi size from novels to guidebooks, to children's books. You can't go wrong with books of this size, which is probably why they are a very popular choice within the book industry.

Videos

1. How to Understand Book Sizes
(AbeBooks.com)
2. Best Self Publishing Companies 2021 (Which One Will You Choose?)
(Self-Publish With Tamara)
3. How Long and Big Should Your Self-Published Book be? (Word Count + Cover Size)
(Mikkelsen Twins - PublishingLife)
4. Trim Size of Book: What Trim Size Should I Print My Book?
(Archangel Ink)
5. Self-Publishing Basics | Writing a Children’s Book | Episode 8
(Kat Kuan)
6. Self Publishing a Book: Createspace Custom Trim Sizes & More
(Dale L. Roberts)

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