The Complete Guide To Standard Book Sizes In Publishing

If you have ever tried to organize your bookshelf, you have probably noticed that books come in several standard book sizes. In the publishing industry, the size of a book is usually referred to as a trim size. There are standards set for the type of book, including in every genre. For example, the size of mass-market paperbacks is not the same as that of children’s books.

Whether you are trying to organize a uniform bookshelf for your library or thinking of publishing your book, understanding the trim and standard book sizes will benefit you. This article will explain the differences in standard book sizes, why all books do not have the same trim size, and how the trim size affects things like page count, printing costs, and more.

1. Mass Market Paperback

Mass market paperbacks are the least expensive books to print and the least costly books to purchase. They are usually released a year or more after the hardcover edition of a book to capitalize on sales. After their first release, these are the books that you often see at the drugstore, grocery stores, or bookstore. They are also the standard size where most romance novels are printed and published. The reason behind all of these will be explained further in this article.

Standard Book Sizes

Book Cover Sizes

The book cover of a mass-market paperback is the same size as the rest of the pages. The page cover is generally made of card stock and is glued, not stapled or sewn. These books are printed on the cheapest paper available, and they are often smaller books with smaller print. Since the cover is flush with the rest of the pages, the book cover does not add to the trim size of mass-market paperbacks.

Trim Size for Mass-Market Paperbacks

The standard trim size for mass-market paperbacks is 4.25 x 6.87 inches. They are small and are often called “pocket” editions because they can usually fit in the back pocket. Since the pages are much smaller than in other editions and forms of books, the page count is generally higher in a mass market paperback than in the trade paperback version or the hardcover version. This makes for a short, fat book.

The mass-market paperback is still a wildly popular book. While they do not add sophistication to a bookshelf, readers tend to buy these books if they want to read an inexpensive book. They are less durable than hardcover books, but they can still be dropped, carried in a book bag or purse, and are generally handled roughly.

As a Writer

If you are an author trying to determine the standard book sizes you should go with for publication, this trim size is the least expensive to produce and sell. This is an excellent option for a new author or a self-publishing author. If you use a print-on-demand service, it is vital to understand printing costs because the size will give you some bang for your buck.

2. Trade Paperbacks

Trade paperbacks are typically seen in bookstores like Barnes and Noble or other brick-and-mortar stores. They come between the mass market paperback books and the hardcover books regarding size and publication order. They are often more attractive and more sophisticated than mass-market paperback books. Trade paperbacks often feature better cover art, a thicker cover, and stronger glue binding to their pages and spine.

Standard Book Sizes

Trim Sizes for Trade Paperback Books

Trade paperback sizes vary when it comes to trim size. Generally, a trade paperback size is one of two standard options. There is a 5.5 x 8.5-inch version and a 6 x 9-inch version. Whichever appeals most to you is fine, as you will find many trade paperbacks in each of these standard book sizes. The page count of a paperback book of this type is between a hardcover and a mass-market paperback of the same title. The pages are slightly bigger, the font size is slightly larger, and the line spacing is usually greater in these books.

As a Writer

If you are using a print-on-demand service for self-publishing purposes, choosing between the two standard book sizes for a trade paperback is a great and economical way to go. Readers enjoy the sturdier and more attractive covers, as well as the better quality paper.

3. Hardcover Books

Hardcover books have a lower page count than their paperback counterparts of the same title. They are usually produced by established authors who have some hits or bestsellers under their belt. Sophisticated and made to last, there are hardcover books around today and in good shape that are hundreds of years old.

Book Covers

The book cover of these books overhangs the pages inside to protect them. Therefore, the book’s trim size is determined by the book cover rather than the size of the pages. The page count of these books is lower, which helps keep down the printing costs. These book covers are often made of cloth or board, and the spine is usually stapled or sewn rather than glued. These are books made to be displayed on a shelf and endure the test of time. The cover art on these books is usually of the highest quality. They include a dust jacket, and they are all-around attractive books.

Standard Book Sizes

Trim Size for Hardcover Books

As with trade paperbacks, hardcover books come in more than one standard book size. The standard book sizes for this book are 6 x 9 inches or 8.5 x 11 inches. This does mean that some trade paperbacks can be the same size as a smaller hardback book. This complements a bookshelf, and as long as you buy the same book sizes regardless of edition, you can buy either paperback books or hardcover books or both and have a great-looking home or office library.

As a Writer

Book sizes impact the printing costs in the publishing industry. A book printed in hardback is much more expensive to produce than a paperback book is, even though it has a much smaller word count. The pages of a hardcover book are of higher quality, which costs more to print. In this case, fewer pages do not equal lower costs.

Self-published authors do not generally print books in hardback, especially new ones. Most fiction and nonfiction books are printed as hardback books exclusively by well-known writers who traditional publishers back. It is advised that self-publishers avoid printing in hardback because the profit margin is just so narrow on these expensive books.

4. Common Children’s Book Sizes

Children’s books come in various trim sizes, but more common book sizes are associated with this type of book. Children’s books often have a reasonably low page count, but they are larger in trim size than adult fiction or nonfiction, and they have a low word count.

Trim size determines the cost for most paperback books. While a paperback child’s book is less costly than a hardback or board book, there are still additional costs associated with illustrations, larger print, and brighter colors. The print costs will also vary depending upon whether you are going for a glossy look or a matte cover.

Standard Book Sizes

Book Covers

Book covers for books geared towards children are usually colorful or contrasting, and this particular genre is geared towards appealing to a small child rather than an adult. Hence, the print is also much larger so that new readers notice the covers.

These books can have softcover or be made from a cardboard material known as a board back. Board back books are sturdier and appeal to the reading experience for teachers, parents, librarians, and kids because they fit comfortably in the hands when opened to read aloud or display to a classroom or group of children. They are also sturdy and stand up to the rough handling of toddlers and infants. The vast majority of books written for toddlers are board back books.

Trim Size for Children’s Books

The industry standards do not employ hard and fast rules for this book genre. However, there are more common books sizes for children’s books. They are as follows:

  • 7 x 10 inches
  • 5 x 8 inches
  • 11 x 8.5 inches
  • 8.5 x 8.5 inches

Children’s books are the one genre of writing where you see the most variations in trim sizes. They often do not look great on a shelf together, but they look great on display to view the cover art.

Other Book Dimensions and Trim Sizes

Most genres have standard book sizes or a trim size typical of their genre. There is nothing worse than being a book collector and having books by different publishers and different authors on a shelf together. Still, the shelf looks terrible and messy because the books are all different sizes—book size matters to the collector and, to a degree, the avid reader. The following are different genres and types of books and the trim size that is most common for that genre.

Standard Book Sizes

1. Fiction Trim Size

Fiction literature includes several genres, from romance to crime thrillers to horror and science fiction. All of these genres typically operate in the same way.

Well Known Authors

Well-known and bestselling authors (Patterson, King, Rowling, Tolkien, Martin, Grisham, etc) release a new book in hardback first, following the standard book sizes discussed earlier in this article for hardcover books. Several months, often even a year or more after the first edition hardcover books come out, the trade paperback books come out in the same title. Months to a year or more after that, mass-market trim-size books are released. All of this occurs alongside ebook sales and audiobook sales.

Romance

One of the rare exceptions to this rule is romance novels. Although they are a major genre in the fiction literature world, they are often released as mass-market versions since romance readers are voracious and make a point to read these books as quickly as possible and then immediately move on to the next title. The waiting game of subsequent versions of the same title does not work in the romance genre.

2. Novella Trim Size

Novellas are shorter in page count than full-length novels but longer than short stories. The typical novella is usually 100 to 200 pages long. Most of the time, the trim size of a novella is 5 x 8 inches. They can come in hardback or paperback versions.

Sometimes novellas come in a collection, printed in one big book. This is not a common occurrence. Stephen King is known for novella collections, and aside from that, there are not many modern fiction writers who do such a thing. When this occurs, the book is often printed like a fiction novel and follows the standard book sizes of a work of fiction. Most fiction by new writers is produced as trade or mass market paperback due to the paperback size and cost to print is less than hardcover.

3. Nonfiction Trim Size

Nonfiction books come in three standard dimensions, excluding coffee table books and guides. The most common book sizes of nonfiction publications are 5.5 x 8.5 inches, 6 x 9 inches, and 7 x 10 inches. Nonfiction can cover many different genres. It is a broad category, much like fiction. Industry standards define the printing and trim sizes of the three sizes mentioned above. Still, art books and other such works of nonfiction, including cookbooks, school textbooks, and memoirs, have their niche trim sizes.

4. Comic Book Trim Size

Comic books are image-heavy publications that have words that consist mainly of dialogue. They are printed in hardback or paperback and can be glossy or matte. They are not cheap to produce due to illustrations and artwork. Most comic books follow a trim size of 6.625 x 10.25 inches. This is a reasonably uniform trim size because many people who purchase comic books are collectors who display them. Uniformity in size looks better in a display case and on a shelf.

5. Memoir Trim Size

Memoirs are nonfiction writing that reflects an author’s experiences written down and published, usually to send a message or raise awareness of something. Often written by politicians, celebrities, and activists, most memoirs penned by famous people are released in hardcover. The book size used most frequently for memoirs is  5.25 x 8 inches and 5.5 x 8.5 inches.

Outside the Industry Standard

Some books that have been mentioned do not always conform to the standard size of their particular genre. Genre standards do not apply to certain types of books. These books include art books, some children’s books, some textbooks for academia, and various nonfiction works. In these cases, the author decides the best trim size according to the book’s content.

As an author of one of these types of books of unusual trim size, it can be difficult to utilize the print-on-demand service option. Distribution options may also be limited, depending on the size of the finished book.

Offset Printing Company

If printing services such as KDP Print and IngramSpark do not offer book sizes options. You may find just what you are looking for with an offset printing company. Take heed, however. These companies cost significantly more than other printing services due to the unique needs of the print work involved. Be sure that you have the money to pay upfront if you go this route, like most companies of this nature charge before they print.

Books Sizes Chart

Learning all of these sizes is a daunting task. Unless you plan to sit with a tape measure and draw out the outline of each size book so that you can see it with your own eyes, it can seem like a tedious discussion or information until you get to the point of publication.

To make it easier to ponder the trim size you want for your book, feel free to utilize an online chart of book sizes. Complete with diagrams, examples, and illustrations, and even available in life-size poster form, this is a great resource for those writers who are more visual learners when it comes to imagining a finished product.

You can print or purchase these charts, create one yourself, or save one to your computer so that you can reference it whenever it is needed. A good book sizes chart is a great tool for any writer or book collector to utilize.

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