Welcome to the world of book publishing, where there are as many different sizes of books as the stories that fill them (well almost as many). This post will explain the standard book sizes for the various genres out there. So whether you’re publishing fiction, non-fiction, a novella, a memoir, a children’s book, textbook, or photography book, you’ll know the size that’s just right.
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- Sizing up the Standard Book Sizes
- Let's Talk About Trim
- Terms of the Trade
- Genres by the Numbers
- Time to Print
Sizing Up the Standard Book Sizes
Selecting the size for your book seems easy, right? Generally, it is. However, even with standard book sizes, there are a number of factors you’ll want to consider before you settle on the size that’s right for your particular book. They include:
- Genre: Take a look at the books in your genre, whether they’re at the library, on bookstore shelves, or in your own shelves at home. These books will give you a good feel for the various sizes that work best. You’ll want to stick with genre and industry standards so readers will be comfortable with your book and it will look and feel professional.
- Finding Your Favorites: Within your genre, pick up the books that you like best. Those sizes will help you solidify what you’re envisioning for your own book.
- Knowing What You Want to Earn: Books are a business. It’s important to think about what you want to earn before you pick the size, since the size is a big price determinant. For instance, you may save money from going up a size but printing fewer pages. Which leads us to….
- Knowing What You Want to Charge: A function of what you want to earn, what you want to charge per copy will be affected by the size you pick. You’ll need to be able to print each copy for a price that still gives you a healthy margin.
- Seeing How It Fits: The way your book fits in readers’ hands and on shelves is important too. If you’re printing a beach read, you don’t want it to be too hard to handle in a chair.
- Knowing Your Distribution Channels: Some book sizes are easier to ship and shelve than others. Unique or unusual sizes will be harder to sell to bookstores, so you’ll want to take this into consideration too.
Let’s Talk About Trim
While there are many factors that influence the cost of printing, page count is one of the biggest. Before you decide on the book size you need, you’ll want to calculate your book’s page count for each book size (trim size) to determine the printing costs. Pages are mechanically trimmed by the press, which is why the book size is called the trim size.
Other factors will help determine the page count too. Margins play a role, and the font type, font size, and overall spacing also influence page count. Usually, the font size and spacing are proportional to the trim size, so a smaller book will have a smaller font. If you need a large font, you’ll opt for a larger trim size. Higher word counts will need bigger trim sizes to reduce the page count. A shorter book will appear more meaty if it’s printed in a smaller trim size.
Terms of the Trade
Before we delve into sizing for the various genres, let’s first explore the larger categories into which they fall:
- Mass-market Paperbacks: These are the books you’ll see at airports, convenience stores, and supermarkets. They’re small and low priced. They’re also called pocket books since they fit neatly in your pocket; the size is usually around 4.25” x 6.87.”
- Trade Paperbacks: These are higher quality books that are usually sold at bookstores. They are sized between the “digest” 5.5” x 8.5” and the “U.S. Trade” 6” x 9.” Most memoirs, novels, and non-fiction books fall into this category.
- Hardcover: These are the most expensive to produce since they have a hard cover. Sizes fall between 6” x 9” to 8.5” x 11” and include all genres.
Genres by the Numbers
Now, the numbers you’ve been waiting for! 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”. The 5.5” x 8.5” digest format is the smallest of the “trade” sizes in the United States. The more common 6” x 9” is the “U.S. Trade” size mentioned earlier. This is a great pick for any type of fiction, whether it be fantasy, science fiction, romance, science fiction, horror, adventure, or crime and mystery. Check out your book’s category to determine the most commonly used book size within these standards.
- 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.
- Hardcover: Ranges in size anywhere from 6” x 9” to 8.5” x 11.” Hardcovers are a great choice for premium fiction and non-fiction books, since their heft and classic look give them more cache.
- Novella: One size fits all novellas, which are mini-novels with a word count between 15,000-40,000 words. 5” x 8” works well for these compact books.
- Memoir: This genre comes in two standard sizes: 5.25” x 8” and 5.5” x 8.5.”
- Textbooks: Sizes for textbooks are pretty, well, textbook: 6” x 9,” 7” x 10,” and 8.5” x 11.” They are generally hardcovers to stand up to wear and tear.
- Children’s: There are three standard sizes for children’s books, which usually have a uniform page count as well: 7.5” x 7.5,” 7” x 10,” and 10” x 8.” These books are made to be shared, and the larger format allows for beautiful spreads that showcase the illustrations.
- Photography: Also known as art books or coffee table books, you have a wide berth for these books, since they generally don’t need to fit on a shelf. You can size your book up to 8.5” by 11” or larger. These book sizes capably display art history, illustrations, photos, or classic artwork.
Time to Print
We are here to help! We’ve been perfecting our printing process for over sixty years and have the beautiful books to show for it. There’s nothing quite like holding a freshly printed copy in your hand after shepherding an idea into reality. Let us know about your next book—we’d be honored to help bring it to life for you in any size.