15/08/2020

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What Are the Ideal Book Sizes for Your Nonfiction Category?

by Bennett R. Coles

Top Book Publishing Companies

Nonfiction books come in different sizes depending on the category. The size of your book will determine your overall page-count, and the lower the page count the less costly the book will be. For example, an 80,000-word manuscript can fit in a 400-page 5” x 8” book as well as a 230-page 6” x 9” book, but the latter will be less expensive to manufacture.

I often hear the term trim size, is this the same as book size?

Yes. The reason the printing industry refers to the size of a book as “trim size” is because once pages are printed, books are glued or stitched together at the spine and then “trimmed” by printing guillotines to their final size — hence the terminology.

When it comes to manufacturing books, even though you could technically trim a book to any custom size, it’s not cost efficient for the production equipment to have to be reset every time a new book size is printed.

For this reason, the industry has settled on certain popular trim sizes so that they can set up entire printing lines dedicated to those sizes.

In this article, I’ll show you what the most popular trim sizes are in the nonfiction genre and I’ll show you the trim sizes that are supported by the two main on-demand printing services for nonfiction self-publishers.

Sample Book Sizes for Typical Nonfiction Categories

Below you’ll find some popular trim sizes for different nonfiction categories:

Memoir/Biography/Autobiography

These books tend to be printed in smaller sizes to be more comfortable to carry and to hold while reading.

Popular memoir/biography/autobiography book sizes are: 5.25” x 8”, 5.5” x 8.5”.

Textbooks:

These books tend to carry a lot of information and thus tend to have very large page counts. For this reason, larger trim sizes are the norm.

Popular textbook sizes are: 6” x 9”, 7” x 10”, 8.5” x 11”.

Cookbooks

Cookbooks don’t typically have a large word-count, however they do have a lot of images: photographs, tables, charts, illustrations, etc. For this reason, larges page sizes tend to be preferred by readers — but not so large that they won’t fit on a bookcase shelf.

Popular cookbook sizes are: 8” x 10”, 8.5” x 11”, 9” x 10”.

Directories, Manuals and Reference Books

These books tend to carry vast amounts of information, which demands both a large page count and a large trim size.

Popular book sizes in these categories are: 8” x 10” and 8.5” x 11”.

General Nonfiction

Consumer types of nonfiction, like psychology, health, parenting, spirituality/new age, and so on, come in the most popular trim sizes — since they’re both easy to carry and easy to hold while reading.

Popular general nonfiction book sizes are: 5.5” x 8.5” and 6” x 9”.

Photography and Art Books

These books are usually printed in full color on a thicker paper weight to minimize see-through (i.e. you want the paper to be thick enough that an image on one side of the page doesn’t “show through” on the other side.

They also tend to be very large so readers have the opportunity to appreciate the details in the art pieces depicted in the books.

Popular book sizes are: 10” x 8” (landscape), 12” x 12”, and 13” x 11” (landscape).

Book Sizes Supported by Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon’s KDP offers one of the most popular on-demand printing services in the world for self-publishing authors. With printing facilities on three continents, KDP has created a truly a cost-effective solution for independent authors and publishers everywhere.

KDP’s equipment supports the following trim sizes for both black & white and color books. The only constraint is that KDP doesn’t offer hardcover printing. All sizes below are for paperbacks:

Trim Size
5″ x 8″
5.06″ x 7.81″
5.25″ x 8″
5.5″ x 8.5″
6″ x 9″
6.14″ x 9.21″
6.69″ x 9.61″
7″ x 10″
7.44″ x 9.69″
7.5″ x 9.25″
8″ x 10″
8.25″ x 6″
8.25″ x 8.25″
8.5″ x 8.5″
8.5″ x 11″
8.27″ x 11.69″

Book Sizes Supported by IngramSpark

IngramSpark is the print-on-demand subsidiary of Ingram Books, the largest brick-and-mortar book distributor in the world. Like Amazon KDP, IngramSpark has distributed printing facilities around the world, offering another low-cost solution for nonfiction self-publishing authors.

Unlike KDP, however, they do offer hardcover printing in addition to paperbacks. Here are their available book sizes:

Paperbacks (black & white)

Trim Size
4″ x 6″
4″ x 7″
4.37″ x 7″
5″ x 7″
5″ x 8″
5.06″ x 7.81″
5.25″ x 8″
5.5″ x 8.25″
5.5″ x 8.5″
5.83″ x 8.27″
6″ x 9″
6.14″ x 9.21″
6.5″ x 6.5″
6.625″ x 10.25″
6.6″ x 9.61″
7″ x 10″
7.44″ x 9.69″
7.5″ x 9.25″
8″ x 8″
8″ x 10″
8″ x 10.88″
8.25″ x 10.75″
8.25″ x 11″
8.268″ x 11.693″
8.5″ x 8.5″
8.5″ x 9″
8.5″ x 11″

Paperbacks (standard color)

Trim Size
4″ x 6″
4″ x 7″
4.37″ x 7″
5″ x 7″
5″ x 8″
5.06″ x 7.81″
5.25″ x 8″
5.5″ x 8.25″
5.5″ x 8.5″
5.83″ x 8.27″
6″ x 9″
6.14″ x 9.21″
6.5″ x 6.5″
6.625″ x 10.25″
6.69″ x 9.61″
7″ x 10″
7.44″ x 9.69″
7.5″ x 9.25″
8″ x 8″
8″ x 10″
8″ x 10.88″
8.25″ x 10.75″
8.25″ x 11″
8.268″ x 11.693″
8.5″ x 8.5″
8.5″ x 9″
8.5″ x 11″

Paperbacks (premium color)

Trim Size
4″ x 7″
5″ x 8″
5.5″ x 8.25″
5.5″ x 8.5″
5.83″ x 8.27″
6″ x 9″
6.14″ x 9.21″
6.5″ x 6.5″
6.625″ x 10.25″
7″ x 10″
7.5″ x 9.25″
8″ x 8″
8″ x 10″
8.25″ x 10.75″
8.5″ x 8.5″
8.5″ x 9″
8.5″ x 11″
11″ x 8.5″

Hardcovers

Trim Size
5″ x 8″ Case Laminate/Cloth/Dust Jacket
5.5″ x 8.5″ Case Laminate/Cloth/Dust Jacket
5.83″ x 8.27″ Case Laminate
6″ x 9″ Case Laminate/Cloth/Dust Jacket
6.14″ x 9.21″ Case Laminate/Cloth/Dust Jacket
6.69″ x 9.61″ Case Laminate
7″ x 10″ Case Laminate
7.5″ x 9.25″ Case Laminate
8″ x 8″ Case Laminate
8″ x 10″ Case Laminate
8″ x 10.88″ Case Laminate
8.25″ x 10.75″ Case Laminate
8.5″ x 8.5″ Case Laminate
8.5″ x 11″ Case Laminate

In closing

Choosing an optimal trim size for your book is a critical decision you’ll need to make early on because your overall print cost will be determined by your book size and page-count. Keep in mind also that your audience is accustomed to certain book sizes for very practical reasons.

For example, if you publish a memoir in an 8” x 10” format, it’ll likely not move many copies because this is just too awkward a format to hold in your hands while reading. Conversely, you don’t want to publish a cookbook in a 5.5” x 8.5” format either (the format of many mass-market novels) because the writing will be too small to read at a distance and readers won’t be able to hold it open on the kitchen counter while cooking.

Hopefully, this article will help you choose the right format for your nonfiction book!

Best wishes,

If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of writing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.

Ben

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or need any help – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.

 

Here are some related posts I highly recommend:

How to Write a Compelling Book in 12 Steps: A Must-Read Guide for Nonfiction Authors

How to Grow Your Business Writing a Nonfiction Book

 

Bennett R. ColesBennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling writers (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghost writing, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.

2 responses to “What Are the Ideal Book Sizes for Your Nonfiction Category?”

  1. Avatar
    Melissa Cook

    Thank you for helping me decide which size is best for my book.

  2. Avatar
    Eli Richardson

    Wow, it’s so interesting to know how each type of book has a different printing size. A couple of weeks ago, my sister started working on a special project for a class. My sister needs to print out her children’s book next month, so I do think she’d benefit from reading your tips. Thank you so much for the information on how printing companies settled on certain book-printing sizes to help us save money.

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