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How to select the perfect trim size for your book?

As you probably already know, your book can be published in different formats, sizes and binding options, but when publishing a print-version of your book, how do you decide which is the best size for it? Having an optimized book size, or trim size as it is known in the publishing world, is one of the main deal-breakers when people purchase a book. Book cover dimensions can affect the visuals from the thickness of your book to the title's length and typography.

As a self-published author, you must make these decisions yourself and that can be difficult. In this blog, we will go over common terms you should familiarize yourself with, the most popular sizes as well as some tips to consider. So, depending on your book's qualities, your audience and your budget, we hope to make this important decision an easier one.

What are the standard book sizes, and why do you need to know?

Let's go back to basics. We believe that getting you familiarized with some terms for book formats and concepts is important for you to understand the impact on your reader depending on each book's print-version and then choosing the size that fits best. Let's get to know the common ones:

Trim size: This means the dimensions of your book after it has been printed and cut down to a specific width and height before being folded. This page trim is usually measured in inches in the USA and Canada. It's important to highlight that the size should be specified always as width first and then the height (e.i. 6 in W X 9 in H).

Paperback: Known as softcover or softback as well. Is the type of book that has thick paper or paperboard cover which are usually glued together instead of being stapled or stitched together. TIP: It is usually the most popular for self-publishers, as it is widely available with most Direct Publishers and usually the most affordable option.

Pocket Size: Usually refers to a small format of softcover books. Very handy size. Usually a popular size with short stories and mass-marketed books. These can also be cheaper both in quality and price when printed en masse. The size is: 4 x 6 in

Hardcover: This one is the rigid cover version of a book. Also known as a hardback. It has a flexible spine and is much more durable than paperback ones. This version is more expensive due to the materials used to create them, you could find hardcovers made of binder's board, heavy paperboard, covered by cloth, or even leather. The size are 6 x 9 to 8.5 x 11 normally. Amazon KDP in Canada does not offer hardcovers yet, but Ingramspark does, if your heart is set on this option. TIP: While very desirable, hardcovers are more expensive for the consumer- and for you, if you were to print boxes of them instead of going with Print-On-Demand options.

Having in mind these basic terms and standard sizes for printed-versions, you can now start adding other characteristics from your book and your audience to consider them and choose the best print-ready size for it.

What to consider for choosing your book size format?

There are many characteristics to acknowledge and consider for your book's print versions size. These vary from the genre of your book to your audience's reading behaviour. In the end, the main goal is to make your book user-friendly, appealing, and low-cost but high-quality.

The first characteristic to take into account is the genre. Most of the time, new books are using traditional publishers, print in hardcovers at the beginning to attract attention followed by a great marketing campaign. While self-publishers worry more about making the book user-friendly and easy to distribute, as well as cost-effective, that’s why paperback is the most available and most popular for self-pub authors. Usually, fiction books tend to be slightly bigger than non-fiction ones (with the exception of a few genres such as educational books and some self-help). Planning how you will market and distribute your book can help you decide. Cost plays a role here, as a self-publisher choosing a smaller paperback size can be very important at the beginning.It is also important to decide before reaching out to a book cover designer, to ensure the design is made to the correct dimensions.

The second characteristic is the word count. You want to make sure that the typesetting (book interior design & formatting into printer requirements) is aligned with your book length and this will give you hints about the perfect size for it. If it's a short novel you wouldn't want to choose a large size, nor the other way around.

Another characteristic that is important to consider is where your book is going to be sold.

The place of sale plays a huge role, especially when it's your first published work. Are you planning on going mass production or are you going with Print-On-Demand options? This will lead us to our next characteristic which is the reader's behaviour.

How do you see your readers carrying your book? Nowadays, many readers use a personal e-reader device to get more books in a cheaper version and have them stored in one place digitally. Others love to carry their own printed copy and prefer the on-the-go version (pocket-size or paperback) without the fear of getting a nice hardcover damaged, which is much more expensive and heavy. Is your book part of a series that can be a collection? Then definitely you want to consider a hardcover version that can impress with an amazing book cover design and stay in your reader’s home bookshelves forever.

Tips and Reminders for choosing the best trim size for your book's print-version.

As a self-publisher, making on your own these types of decisions can be overwhelming. Here are some of our tips for you to remember while you choose the size of your book.

  • The moment you decide on the genre of your book, make a visualization exercise thinking who will be your audience and how they behave.

  • Research how people prefer to read the genre of your book, is it an easy-to-carry paperback or a durable hardcover? (TIP: Going to the bookstore can really help with this part, go into the genre’s section and have a look at what type they use the most, and what the bestsellers sell as.)

  • Make a budget not only for printing and typesetting but for marketing and promotion as well. Publishing on Amazon Kindle and other online stores is not enough, your need to promote it!

  • Be curious about trends and the latest news in the industry. That will help you a lot during the decision process.

And in case you were wondering-

Here are some other types of book versions and their dimensions:

E-book: Commonly known as E-book, it is essentially an electronic book. This is a digital version of your published book which can be read in a flat-panel display of computers or other electronic devices. This type allows distributing your book to a larger worldwide audience. It is less expensive and makes it easier for readers to get it. The size of the book format is presented in pixels and an aspect ratio. Kindle, iBooks, and Kobo are some examples of popular platforms where you can publish and distribute your ebook.

Audiobook: This is the recorded version of your book being read out loud. There are two types of this version, the one that is the reading of the complete text known as unabridged and the shorter version known as an abridgement. The size of the book cover displayed on the platforms must be no smaller than 2400 x 2400 pixels (1:1 scale). New services have allowed self-publishers to produce their own audiobook version such as ACX.

With all this being said now you know the importance and impact of choosing the best print-size for your book!


What's next?

Want some help selecting your trim size from a book cover designer's perspective?

Contact us for a consultation meeting to know more about your project and let us recommend the best fit for you and see how else we can help!

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