Paperback Book Sizes: Which One and Why?
Paperback Book Sizes: Which One and Why?
13 September 2021
Congratulations! You've unlocked a new level! It's time to decide the size of your paperback book!
After surviving the obstacle-ridden terrain of painstakingly writing an entire book, editing that book, rewriting that book, losing sleep at night over that book, and decided to publish that book – you have made it to the next level! So here is a special prize: The Stress of the Size – Where you decide which book size through which to present your wonderful work of art to the world. No pressure. You got this.
Authors stare down many obstacles when writing a book. Once the decision is made to publish it, a whole new level of obstacles and decision-making is opened. One of those decisions, of course, is which size to print the actual book.
Each distribution bracket has several sizes. But since the publishing packages at Wild Lark Books offer three sizes for paperback books, we’ll dig into those specifically, discuss what they mean, and when each is the best choice.
Mass Market Paperback (4.25"x7")
Think of the mass market paperback as your perfect travel-sized book companion. Generally speaking, mass-market paperbacks are low-quality made books. The paper stock is lightweight (printer jargon for “the pages are thin”), and the books usually have weak binding. While a weak spine may be heaven for all those wicked indulgers of new-book spine crackers, it isn’t great for the longevity of life for the book since it will wear quickly.
Thankfully, quick wear is not a worry that Wild Lark Books Authors need to consider, because the mass market paperback books at Wild Lark Books are printed on the same 50# (thicker paper) as the other paperback size options.
Genres that are usually printed in mass-market paperbacks are fiction, romance, thriller, and mysteries. Though I like to think this is a subtle nod to how much readers of these genres devour books.
Suppose the book has illustrations or graphics at the beginning of the chapters. In that case, mass-market paperbacks are not the ideal printing size. As a result, the detail is generally lost or too hard to see.
Digest Trade Paperback (5.5"x8.5")
An inch makes all the difference. The digest trade paperbacks are the Goldilocks “Just Right” in publication sizes. They aren’t as shy as a mass-market book, and they don’t exude the “hardcover wannabe” vibes like the US Trade paperback. Our bias might be showing here, but the digest trade is a great size for almost any genre. Honestly, we have nothing bad to say about the digest trade size. When in doubt, digest it!
Genres: All Fiction
US Trade Paperback (6"x9")
It wasn’t fair for us to say that US Trade paperbacks are hardcover wannabes. They certainly have their merits. Business books, poetry, and memoirs fit great in a US trade paperback. Essentially, the US Trade is the “Realm of the Nonfictions.” Nonfiction books can be printed in other sizes, but US trade is simply the most common.
Genres: Nonfiction, Fiction
The standard size for a hardcover book for both fiction and nonfiction is 6″x9″. Talk about an easy decision! It’s already done!
What NOT to Worry About When Choosing
1. Our Wild Lark Books Publishing Packages are already assembled. So, our authors don’t need to worry about which printing size will provide you with the most value when self-publishing. However, there are slight advantages in royalties between each size, so we can discuss it during the publishing process if this is a significant factor for you.
2. You can change your mind! Well, you can with Wild Lark Books. We value our authors and want you to love having your book with us. So if an author wants a different size than the one from their first print run, we can change the print size for a subsequent print run. Now, it wouldn’t be our recommendation to constantly change the size of the book, but changing it is an option. And Wild Lark Books offers an Upgrade option to go from a paperback publication to a hardcover one at any point post-publication.
Questions to Consider As You Decide
“Do you already have cover artwork in mind?”
Consider whether or not the concept in your mind has enough space to properly be seen on the size you are choosing. If the artwork is complex or detailed, a larger book size may be to your benefit. Squinting to see detail isn’t the best first impression for a book to a new potential reader.
If you don’t have any idea what the cover of your book will look like, that’s fine too. Each Wild Lark Books publishing package includes three options from our graphic design team, and they are designed with the book size in mind.
“Is there a general expectation of the genre?”
Not a lot of YA (young adult) books are printed as a mass-market paperback. If it’s a poetry book, the same applies. Although, a movement should be started to make poetry books the perfect size for a back pocket. It would be so satisfying than strolling through a park with a fresh espresso drink in hand, and as I settle onto a bend with a scenic view before me – I pull out a new book of poetry from my back pocket. But I digress.
Genres will typically have more than one size, and rules can always be bent. But the genre is something to consider when choosing the book size.
“Considering the possibility of doing a future hardcover print run after an initial paperback one?”
If eventually printing the book as a hardback in the future is a consideration, the US trade paperback is a great option to start because it’s already formatted as a 6″x9″ book. Resizing the format of the book can absolutely be done, but there is a warm, fuzzy feeling when expectations are met and plans turn out just as perfect as we had hoped. Moving from a US trade to a hardcover helps give that warm, fuzzy feeling since they are the same size.
“What if I still don’t know which one I want?”
Sometimes we just want someone else to take on the mental load of making a decision. You can take a marker, and write “mass market,” “digest trade,” and “US trade” on a globe, spin it, and possibly jam a finger while stopping it to see which option your finger lands closest to. But we think that finger would be put to better use for creative magic and book writing.
When publishing through Wild Lark Books, we happily talk you through your options and make our recommendation for your publication. The Submission Form has space to mark your chosen paperback size, but this section does not have to be marked in order to send us your publication request. Of course, there is always the option to print in hardcover. There’s only one standard size for a hardcover! No choices, no problems, right? … Unless it’s a special project, but that is a story for another article.