It is often said that the cover indicates the content of the book. But subconsciously our mind also registers the book size and informs itself what category the book comes under. Is it an academic textbook or fiction? A cookbook or a novella? Taking a look at any shelf at a book store shows that books come in all shapes and sizes. A hardcover or a paperback? A sleeved book or a sleeveless one?

However, how does one settle on the size? Publishers and writers, in collaboration, consider various aspects such as economic viability, marketing factors, its practicality, and of course its artistic capability. If you are self-publishing, these things on top of the various drafts can be even more overwhelming.

Take a look at the numerous measurements and dimensions that books of distinctive genres come under! For simplicity, the sized mentioned below are in inches.

What are Trim Sizes?
Before we get into the technicalities of the literary world, you need to understand the concept of trim sizes. Essentially, after each book is published, printed and bound, they are trimmed with the help of a mechanical machine to achieve uniformity. Trim sizes are denoted in width x height format. However, each country has its own measuring scale. Some countries use inches while some use millimetres. It is important to have a trim size suggested before the printing as this determines the cost, and subsequently, the availability of the book.

Now on to the sizes!

Who doesn’t want to create fantasies and be a part of an alternate reality? The most common and widely used genre of book is fiction. Typically, fictions come in the ranges 4.25 x 6.87, 5 x 8, 5.25 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9. Some examples of fiction books are A Little Life, Normal People, The Kite Runner and so on and so forth.

A short story or a long short story that has been converted into a stand-alone novel and published is often termed as novellas. These are the books that people mostly prefer to carry with them on short vacations as they are a) lightweight and b) can be finished during the holiday. They come in dimensions 5 x 8. Examples of these are The Metamorphosis, A Christmas Carol, and The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor.

This category has a versatile collection of books. From Memoirs to Cookbooks to even biographies come under non-fiction. Some notable examples of these are Becoming by Michelle Obama, Diana, The San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Kendra Aronson and more. Most common sizes of non-fiction books are 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9, 7 x 10”.

The most dreaded category on the list has to be academic books. Everyone goes through the phase where carrying books of Organic Chemistry and History seems like a pain in the back. These are measured and printed according to the school desk size so that they are able to match the eye-line and so they fit enough educational content. 6 x 9, 7 x 10, 8.5 x 11 are the most preferred sizes for textbooks.

Children’s Books
As the name suggests, Children’s books are bigger than the rest of the storybooks as they need to include large-sized fonts so they kids are able to read and interact with the book. The size also makes it convenient for the book to be held in two hands rather than one. They come in 7.5 x 7.5, 7 x 10, 10 x 8 are mostly for the age group 0-14. Books like Alice in Wonderland, The Peter Rabbit (Interestingly, this has a fascinating story behind its publishing) come in this category.

If you have ever glanced at a bookstore’s shelf of phonebooks, you must have observed that they come in every shape, size, and type. That’s exactly how the publishing world sees it too! Photobooks don’t have a particular measurement. They can be tweaked and resized according to the nature of the photographs within the book. Take a look at Humans of New York or 100 Photographs: A Retrospective of 50 Years of Photography by Jagdish Agarwal.

Unconventional Sizes
The sizes of the books are not bound by a rule set in stone. If you are self-publishing, you can choose the size of your book as you deem fit. For instance, several spiritual books have text written in square books of dimensions 5 x 5. A colouring book of landscapes features rectangular books of odd dimensions like 11 x 9. So, don’t worry about breaking the norm. When it comes to sizes, the sky is the limit!

The aforementioned sizes are popular among self-publishers, due to their affordability. If you are self-publishing your book for the first time, pick from one of the sizes above. These tried and tested dimensions will definitely take you ahead in your self-publishing journey!