Book Printing 101: Everything you need to know about book trimming – Lori McKnight | Guest Post

Are you a self-publisher or writer investigating book printing options? Here are some things to consider when designing and printing your next book.


One size doesn’t fit all

Books like people come in different shapes and sizes. From the smallest pocket-sized handbooks to beautiful table top collections, the size, cover and weight of your book influences who reads and buys your book and their reading experience.


What to know about Trimming?

Since the trim size impacts the readers’ experience, your book’s marketability and cost, it’s important to understand the terminology and industry best practices.

Trim size in printing or publishing terms refers to the book size. Book printing is very different from brochure or postcard printing. A book is trimmed before it is bound and released into the world. Trim size is usually measured in terms of width by height; measured in inches in the United States and millimeters in the UK.


Types of Trim Sizes

Industry Trim Size

There are essentially three book styles used in the book publishing industry.

Mass-Market Paperbacks are the most inexpensive type of book printing. These types of books are often called soft covers or pocketbooks and usually sized 4.25 inches x 6.87 inches.

Trade Paperbacks are better quality books than pocketbooks. They usually come in two sizes Digest and US Trade. Digest measures around 5.5 inches x 8.5 inches while US Trade measures 6 inches x 9 inches. These are the industry standard for go-to paperback books. Trade paperbacks are usually chosen for novels, non-fiction books, and memoirs.

Hardcover Books

The industry trim size for hardcover books is 6 inches x 8.5-11 inches. Hardcover printed books have sturdier covers and are overall a higher quality and more durable book.

Genre Trim Sizes

The genre of your book can dictate the type of trim to select.

Fiction books are typically printed in one of five sizes.

  • 25 inches x 6.87 inches
  • 5 inches x 8 inches
  • 25 inches x 8 inches
  • 5 inches x 8.5 inches
  • 6 inches x 9 inches

A Novella is a hybrid of a short story and novel, usually ranging from 30,000 to 60,000 words. Novella books are typically printed in only one size; 5 inches x 8 inches.

Children’s books are commonly bigger than fiction or novella prints. The standard trim sizes for children’s books are:

  • 5 inches x 7.5 inches
  • 7 inches x 10 inches
  • 10 inches x 8 inches

Most Textbooks are 8.5 inches x 11 inches but can also be trimmed for:

  • 6 inches x 9 inches
  • 7 inches x 10 inches

Non-fiction books come in three standard sizes, with the smallest book being an inch larger than their fiction counterparts.

  • 5 inches x 8.5 inches
  • 6 inches x 9 inches
  • 7 inches x 10 inches

Memoirs are a category on their own and are generally printed in two sizes 5.5 inches x 8 inches and 5.5 inches x 8.5 inches.

Photography is the most diverse category .   Photography books are not prescribed typical sizes like other books. Photography books can be large, gorgeous coffee table books, standard paperback, hardcover sized books and small brag books printed.

The type of book you created will help you determine the best trim and style to choose.

Want to talk through the best trim size for your new book? MCRL Overseas Group offers free consultation.




Lori McKnight is a Senior Marketing and Communications Consultant. Lori applies the 4Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Place and Promo) to MRCL Overseas Group’s 4 Core Products (Printing, Promotion, Packaging and Product Sourcing services). She has a MBA and over 25 years of experience helping companies of all sizes and industries engage with their audience.

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