Standard book sizes and book dimensions details.
There are standard book sizes and book dimensions in common use. Many book sizes are in frequent use by book printers and print-on-demand service providers. Star Print Brokers prints nearly any size book. The maximum width is 11.8 inches by 15 inches in length.
Book DIMENSIONS, ALWAYS WIDTH BY LENGTH
A book is measured by width and then length. The width is called out first. Some say “8.5″ x 11″ landscape.” It is correct to say 11″ x 8.5″ for a landscape-oriented book. The orientations are portrait (vertical), landscape (horizontal), or square.
A list of book sizes for specific types of books is set by the provider you choose. The following standard book sizes are incomplete as sizes vary by provider.
BASIC BOOK DIMENSIONS
Digest 5.5″ x 8.5″ (140 x 216 mm)
US Trade 6″ x 9″ (152 x 229 mm)
Small Square 7.5″ x 7.5″ (191 x 191 mm)
Square 8.5″ x 8.5″ (216 x 216 mm)
Graphic Novel 6.625″ x 10.25″ (168 x 260 mm)
US Letter 8.5″ x 11″ (216 x 280 mm)
GUIDANCE FOR BOOK DIMENSIONS
- Determine the dimensions of the book before designing it. Making a mistake on book size means moving text and images around on a larger or smaller page size. It takes time, possibly money, and the book may not turn out as well as in the previous layout. When changes are made, proofread again for new mistakes.
- Research other same style or types of books. Look at physical books in a bookstore or review book dimensions on Amazon.
- Get quotes or pricing from service providers or printers with whom you intend to print. Use their specifications once dimensions are final.
- Take handling costs, postal regulations, and postage into consideration. Is a fulfillment center, mail house, Amazon, or author mailing the books?
- When filling mail orders, what size plain envelope, bubble envelope, bumper box, or postal box will you use for the book?
- Charge extra for postage and handling, instead of cutting into your own profit margin.
Hardcover versus soft cover dimensions
SOFT COVER BOOK DIMENSIONS
The book dimensions of a soft cover or paperback book are straight forward in terms of the text block after the cover is applied. If the interior page size of the text block is 5.5″ x 8.5″, then the cover is affixed and trimmed to the same size. The dimensions of the book are still 5.5″ x 8.5″.
There are standard sizes that vary among service providers. Check with your provider before determining book dimensions. Most POD services offer limited sizes depending on their digital output devices for book output.
HARDCOVER BOOK DIMENSIONS
We will use the same example as the interior page text block; 5.5″ x 8.5″. The hard case of a hardcover book holds the text block. Because the hard case boards are larger than the text block, the dimensions of the bound book are slightly larger than 5.5″ x 8.5″.
We still describe the dimensions of this hardcover book as 5.5″ x 8.5″ even though the hardcover case is larger.
The increased hard case size can differ among manufacturers. Do not assume anything! The size can be different not only from manufacturer to manufacturer, but from country to country. Fortunately, you do not have to worry about this until designing the cover wrap of a hardcover book, and if you choose to have a standard dust jacket or French fold dust jacket.
Before finalizing the cover design, the total page count and thickness of the paper needs to be determined for the spine width. See the service provider’s quote or talk to their representative. They can advise you of the spine width and measurements for your InDesign files.
Print-on-Demand (POD) book dimensions
POD services are most often outputting books a page or two at a time, and a few copies at a time. Book dimensions vary among these services. They are limited, especially with coffee table or photography book dimensions, or when self-publishers want larger books or custom sizing. Before committing, check book dimensions, paper finishes, and paper weights with the POD provider.
DIMENSIONS ARE GAUGED BY THE OUTPUT DEVICE CAPABILITY
POD providers may offer one-off books, but they need to match book dimensions to their output devices. Pages are output with toner as with desktop copiers. Pages can smear when wiped with a moist finger. Output devices use toner just like a copier. It is not practical to print only one book with real printing ink, in signatures, and on a commercial printing press. POD is never high-quality. A printing press requires set-ups and is high-quality book printing — at least it is with our company.
POD PRINTING IN SIGNATURES IS LIMITED OR NON-EXISTENT
A signature is a large sheet of paper stock that is printed, for example, with four pages one side and four pages on the other side to make an 8-page signature. The signature size depends on the page dimension and paper weight. A coffee table book with large dimensions may be printed in 8-page signatures, while a standard novel may print in 16-page signatures. See Chapter 8 Printing on Press for a diagram of a signature.
Signatures are folded and folded again to make up booklets that are “married” together to form the text block. Professional printers need to make sure the signatures are not too thick with too many pages, or that the paper is too thick for the number of pages. One of the ways to judge a poorly bound book is to look at the top of the spine of a bound book. You should not see wide gathered signatures.
Some POD providers can do short runs on press. This is not a high-quality option. Fine printing is more than printing on just any press. Printing staff, as well, must be more than just knowledgeable about running a press.
When a self-publisher has a soft cover book and color is not important, POD is not a bad option depending on the binding. It used to be that pages would easily fall out of a soft cover book because single pages were not glued well enough. The glued binding is better with some providers than it was a few years ago. Ask for a sample book to verify the binding.
SMYTH SEWING IS LIMITED OR NON-EXISTENT AT A POD PROVIDER
Consider the page count and thickness of a book. A glued book cannot hold a great number of pages. The pages should be Smyth Sewn, but print-on-demand providers do not typically sew books. They may side-stitch (staple) the text block. That is when viewing type too close to the gutter becomes a problem. Even worse, the middle of a two-page spread will be cut-off in the gutter. So much for that beautiful two-page spread in your children’s book.
Because everything is structured and mass produced at POD services, self-publishers have to use the POD provider’s standard book sizes. Again, sizes differ among service providers. Print-on-demand books and their dimensions are generally driven by paper sizes as they output — not print on press — one or two pages at a time.
POD CUSTOM BOOK DIMENSIONS ARE LIMITED OR NON-EXISTENT
Self-publishers may need non-standard sizes. Star Print Brokers often prints 11.8″ x 11.8″ books and other large-format book sizes. All books are printed on press, in signatures. We also print landscape-oriented books in hardcover or soft cover. There are fewer restrictions than with POD services.
Our maximum text block size is 11.8 inches wide by 15 inches in length. Occasionally, someone requests a landscape-orientation book that is not long enough for the width. The final hard case bound book would torque. Clients are advised of a better length for the width, while maintaining the landscape orientation. Plan your book!