Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Size DOES matter: think beyond 6 x 9

The most common size for "trade" paperback books is 6 inches wide by 9 inches high. It's the size I've used for five books.

It's not the only size available.

Many "mass market" paperbacks have smaller 5 x 8 pages.

Some "gift" books and photo books are 8 x 8.

I have a book about sports cars that measures about 30 x 40.

Some reference books are small enough to fit into a pocket.

If your book is only text or mostly text, the size doesn't make much difference -- as long as the combination of page size, typeface, type size, and margins provides a readable book.

However, if you are going to include photographs, illustrations or charts, bigger is usually better.

I recently had a rude awakening when I bought The Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit! by Christy Pinheiro and Nick Russell.

The book is aimed at writers who want to use Amazon's CreateSpace publishing service. It's good-looking, well-written, accurate and useful.

But what most attracted me -- and made me jealous -- is its 7 x 10 page size. That size is an inch bigger than my books in each direction, and provides 16 more square inches of page size.

The big pages have room for lots of "air" (white space) which makes the pages very appealing and accessible, and provide lots of room for computer screen shots and charts.

The popular "Complete Idiot's" and "For Dummies" books are about 7.2 by 9 inches.

If I was not such a complete idiot and a dummy, I might have used bigger pages in a couple of my books. I may try it next time.

If you're still in the planning stage of a publishing project, consider going beyond 6 by 9. Keep in mind, however, that if you have bigger pages, you'll probably have fewer pages. When people read a book's description they are more likely to notice the page count than the page size, and a book with only 96 pages may seem skimpy.

Another thing to consider: page size may not affect what you pay for printing. A book with pages up to about 7.5 x 9.7 inches may not cost any more than a 5 x 8 book, and since you can get more on each bigger page, with fewer pages you'll pay less to print each book. You can charge less, or make more, or both.

On the other hand, a book with bigger pages won't fit into the convenient and free 9.25" x 6.25" x 2" Priority Mail "large video box" that can be mailed for $4.95.

Size isn't everything, but it's important. Think about it carefully.



  1. You've given me a lot to think about. Thanks.

  2. Hey, thanks for the blog post about the book! I didn't even notice this when you posted it-- it must have snuck by me.

    Since we self-pubbers have to stick togther, I'll let you know that the larger trim sizes are not really more expensive. My wholesale price for author's copies on the 7X10 size, with 190 pages is $3.13 each on CreateSpace. Of course, if the book sells on Amazon, they take about 55% of the list price in fees-- but I have zero out-of-pocket expenses, when the book sells on Amazon, so I love it.

    It's the page count that makes the big difference, not the trim size. Although when you get up to the much higher page counts, like 650, it seems to level off a bit. A good thing for me, because I make a nice profit on my technical book.

    It may not make any difference after all-- I am having the book formatted for the Kindle in November and I'm dropping the price to $4.99, or maybe even lower. We'll see. It's an experiment.