If you’re making a print book, you need to pick your print format to please your print-loving readers. Decisions include color scheme, cover, and trim size.
Self-published authors are asking an important question: Is anyone still reading books?
The answer is an emphatic “Yes!” And leading the way is an age group you may not expect: the millennials. It’s a fallacy that they’re too distracted by video games, surfing the net, and other online activities and do not read books.
In fact, a recent study by the Pew Research Center finds that US readers under 30 are more likely to have read a book — print or electronic — in the past week than Americans over 30. And when they do read books, millennials are overwhelmingly choosing print over electronic. According to another Pew Research Center study, 73% of 18- to 29-year-olds who read a book in the previous year read a print book versus 37% who read an eBook.
When making a print book, you have three important decisions to make:
1. Black and White or Color printing? I’ll assume your cover will be full color, so this choice is about the interior of your book. For most books this is a pretty obvious choice. Novels and fiction books are mostly black and white texts, while art and photography books demand full color. Of course, some books are a mix of both black text with color photos inserted throughout. You’ll need to work with your printer to discuss your choice.
2. Hard or Soft Cover. This is mostly a personal – and economical – choice. A hardcover is a book bound with thick protective cover, with usually a paper or leather dust jacket over the main cover. The aim of hardcover is protection and durability. Hardcover books last far longer than paperbacks. They do not get damaged easily, thus making them perfect for reference guides, great literary works, etc. Plus, they look impressive on a bookshelf.
Paperback books are prepared for non-commercial works and those which don’t get much exposure. The covers here are made of thinner paper or cardboard, with glue to stick to the leaves. Cost of production is lower than hard covers. Most new writers will start off with a paperback.
3. Trim Size. This is an important decision for independent authors. While there are very few “rules” about book sizes, there are a number of conventions that are good to know. Your readers will expect a certain type of book to be within some standard conventional sizes.
- Trade paperbacks, a pretty loose category of books, are often in the 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ to 6″ x 9″ (width x height) range. One of the most popular sizes is the 6″ x 9″ size because of the proportional size: 2:3 has long been considered an ideal for a book page, and you can create good-looking books at different sizes with the same page proportions. Most self-published books are trade paperbacks.
- Manuals and workbooks are larger and, depending on the printing equipment being used to produce them, are in the 8″ x 10″ to 8-1/2″ x 11″ range. This size is also good for directories and instructional books with lots of graphics or detailed drawings.
- Novels can be printed in many different sizes. Often called “Digest Size,” a 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ book is probably the most popular. Longer novels move to 6″ x 9″ to avoid becoming overly bulky at smaller sizes.
- Children’s books can be printed in most any trim size, but US Letter size (8 ½” x 11”) is fast becoming a very popular choice for color printing.
- General nonfiction titles are well suited for the 6″ x 9″ size. It’s also the most widely used size for hardcover books. When more room is needed on the page, for sidebars or pull quotes for instance, 7″ x 10″ is a frequent solution.
- Photography or art books don’t conform to any particular size. They can be very small, or they can be big and heavy “coffee-table” books. Many artists and photographers prefer books that are square or nearly square. This allows both horizontal and vertical pictures to have about the same amount of white space on the page.
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