How to Pick the Size of your Book
As soon as you get serious about self-publishing a book, you are confronted with the choice of what size your book ought to be.
For instance, if you want to get a price on how much a book will cost to print, the first thing you need to know is the size.
Some pricing on digital books is in a range of sizes rather than having a different price for every different size, but that only helps a bit.
If you plan to print offset, you’ll need to specify the exact size in your request for an estimate. So one way or the other, it’s good to figure out near the beginning of your planning.
That’s not to say you can’t change your mind along the way. You won’t be locked into anything at this stage, so as long as you’re close to what the final size will be, the figures you’ll be working with should also be close enough until later in your production process.
Production Decisions and Trim Sizes
The decision you make on how to print your book will also affect your choice of trim sizes. Generally speaking, due to the highly automated nature of digital printing (used in print on demand distribution) you will have fewer choices of sizes.
For instance, here is the entire list of trim sizes offered by Lightning Source, the largest supplier of print on demand production:
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)
7.50 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)
8.5 x 11 inches (280 x 216mm)
You’ll notice many of these sizes are identical to the Lightning Source sizes. Many are considered “industry standards.”
At more specialised digital printers, the choices may be even more limited. For instance, at the colour book specialist Blurb.com, you have a choice of only 5 sizes for colour books:
5 x 8 in., 13 x 20 cm
6 x 9 in., 15 x 23 cm
7 x 7 in., 18 x 18 cm
8 x 10 in., 20 x 25 cm
10 x 8 in., 25 x 20 cm
13 x 11 in., 33 x 28 cm
12 x 12 in., 30 x 30 cm
These are all larger sizes, intended for full colour books.
Picking a Size for Your Book
Most of the books I see from self-publishers are either 210 x 210mm, 215 x 215mm 180 x 210mm or 200 x 290mm. They are good, readable size that will work for many types of books. there’s a good chance one of these two sizes will work for you.
Pick a different size if:
- your book is clearly in a different category, like a workbook
- if you have a functional reason you need a larger or smaller book, like for a gift book or an atlas
- if you want to stand out in your niche by having a different size than everyone else.
However, be wary of larger sizes, over A4. Why? Many book shelves—including the shelves in some bookstores—won’t easily handle books bigger than that. Unless you’re producing a children’s book, but these larger books also cost a lot more to print!
Small print runs (“publisher direct”) open even more doors to generating revenue and reaching a wider audience. With a small print run, you can:
- Get your book in regional bookstores, which are more open to supporting local talent
- Sell copies at book signings, events, and speaking engagements
- Break into local book clubs and watch the word of mouth spread
- Incorporate books into your business offerings (great for consultants and advisors)
Getting your book printed…
Once the design of your book has come together its on to the next stage…. printing.
So whats Stitched and Perfect bound mean?
Stitched – is a stapled book (like a magazine finish)
Perfect Bound – is a book thats glued together with a spine. So you can add details onto the spine (which I recommend)
Here are some basic prices to give you an idea of what you will be looking at!
All the prices below are based upon book at the sizes: 297 x 210mm, 215 x 215mm, 215 x 270. These also cover the following paper stocks: Silk, gloss and uncoated. They all have a slightly different finish but the price is the same for all of them.