1. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    Book size?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by SapereAude, Sep 8, 2022.

    In the U.S., the three most common book sizes for novels are arguably 5" x 8", 5-1/2" x 8-1/2", and 6" x 9". Maybe throw in 5-1/4" x 8" for a fourth. Then there's the traditional mass market book size: 4.25” by 6.87” (or 4-1/8" x 6-7/8").

    Looking on the book shelves in my local supermarket, I've noticed that most of the pulp fiction novels now seem to have shifted to a taller format: 4-1/8" x 7-1/2". It maintains the same width, so it doesn't occupy any more horizontal shelf space, but it provides a slightly larger cover to allow more flexibility in layout as well as attracting the eye more. (I guess.)

    I'm starting work on what will probably be a novelette or novella rather than a full-fledged novel, and it will be aimed (primarily) at young (pre-teen) readers. I can't decide what trim size to consider. Does anyone use the new "super mass market" trim size?
     
  2. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    To be honest you are highly unlikely to get a self published book onto the shelves anyway so it doesn’t matter all that much

    I’d be inclined to go with standard paperback size unless the book is very long in which case a bigger page size can reduce page count
     
  4. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    In this case it's kind of the opposite. I don't expect the book to be very long, so probably a novelette or novella rather than a full-blown novel. The only other book I've self-published at that size I did as a [traditional] mass market paperback size, and it worked fairly well. I hope this book will be a tad longer than that first one (but it's much too soon to have a sense of that), but with the basic plot worked out in my head I can't see it reaching 80,000 to 100,000 words.

    I could, of course, lay it out as a 5" x 8" anyway, but unless I use a ridiculously large font that might make for a rather slim book.
     
  5. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    KDP has responded that they currently have no plans to add that trim size as a standard, but they will consider it.

    No response from Barnes and Noble Press.
     
  6. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    Update: I spent a few minutes in the book aisle of the supermarket this evening -- with a small tape measure. It turns out there seems to be not one new mass market book size, but two. I found a few books for sale in the old, traditional mass market trim size of 4-1/8" x 6-7/8". I found several in the 4-3/4"" x 7" trim size I started this thread to ask about. And I also found several in a rather odd (to me) size: 4-1/8" x 7-1/2". These seem quite out of proportion to me; they're too tall and narrow.

    I find myself wondering if this new tall and narrow trim size is perhaps intended to mimic the size and proportions of some of the newer cell phones. My phone is several years old, so hardly an example for comparison. It seems that cell phones have been growing in recent years, so this may be an explanation.
     
  7. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have no idea how a printing press works. Are they calibrated to produce several sized books? Given the supply chain issues in every other business, I wonder if one size of paper or one particular machine is more available on the market? Might have nothing to do with it at all, but my brain automatically goes there these days. For example, I had to buy a new oven not too long ago and the 8 burners were much easier to find than the 10 burners, so we either had to suck it up or wait a year. And certain formats of booze are only available in 1.75L formats instead of the more standard liter or 750mL.
     
  8. Earp

    Earp Contributor Contributor

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    I saw this on Slashdot - the article quoted is paywalled at The Economist.

    Publishing can, then, find the paper for the things it wants to print, even in times of scarcity. The industry is currently experiencing another period of shortage, and war is once again a cause (along with the pandemic). In the past 12 months the cost of paper used by British book publishers has risen by 70%. Supplies are erratic as well as expensive: paper mills have taken to switching off on days when electricity is too pricey. The card used in hardback covers has at times been all but unobtainable. The entire trade is in trouble. Not every author is affected: a new thriller by Robert Galbraith, better known as J.K. Rowling, is a 1,024-page whopper -- and this week reached the top of the bestseller lists in Britain. But other books are having to change a bit. Pick up a new release in a bookshop and if it is from a smaller publisher (for they are more affected by price rises) you may find yourself holding a product that, as wartime books did, bears the mark of its time.

    Blow on its pages and they might lift and fall differently: cheaper, lighter paper is being used in some books. Peer closely at its print and you might notice that the letters jostle more closely together: some cost-conscious publishers are starting to shrink the white space between characters. The text might run closer to the edges of pages, too: the margins of publishing are shrinking, in every sense. Changes of this sort can cause anguish to publishers. A book is not merely words on a page, says Ivan O'Brien, head of The O'Brien Press in Ireland, but should appeal "to every single sense." The pleasure of a book that feels right in the hand -- not too light or too heavy; pages creamy; fonts beetle-black -- is something that publishers strive to preserve. [...] For at the heart of the publishing industry lies an unsayable truth: most people can't write and most books are very bad. Readers who struggle with a volume often assume that the fault is theirs. Reviewers, who read many more books, know it is not.
     
  9. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    Looking at many of the books on self-publishing available on Amazon, it strikes me that most of the covers look like they were drawn by kindergärtners, or pasted up by retired kidnappers from the days when ransom notes were pasted up from newspaper clippings.

    And then if I look at the "Look Inside" view, the writing is often about what I would expect from a 10th grade drop-out. But ... they are experts on self-publishing. They wrote a book that says so.

    It's not rocket science. The problem with making it so easy, unfortunately, is that it's so easy to do it badly. It reminds me of an editorial from a publication dedicated to graphic arts that I read back in the infancy of desktop publishing. The author was bemoaning the easy availability of so many fonts on computers. (And this was before Microsoft Windows bundled 4,238 fonts in Windows -- back then we had to actually purchase fonts to get much more than Arial and Times New Roman). He (or she) called the likely result the "slick but bad" presentation -- illustrated by some advertisements that had been cobbled together with a dozen different fonts and a gazillion different colors. Technological tours de force -- but painful to look at.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2022
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  10. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe one of the things to consider when selecting a size, is if there will be any other books in the "series." And if you imagine them being potentially shorter or longer than the work you're contemplating now. Many people prefer books of the same dimensions (LxW)in such instances. You probably have already thought on this, but figured I would share anyway.
     
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