There are three different standards in book publishing: the hardcover, the trade paperback and the mass-market paperback. These three types of books represent sort of the stage of life of books. In traditional publishing, a publisher will make a deal with a new author to publish their book and hardcover. These books are relatively expensive to purchase compared to other formats, and they are only expected to sell limited number of copies.
These are the books that get purchased by libraries all over the country as well as by bookstores to stock on the shelves. However, once the hardcover run is over, the publisher may choose to publish a paperback version of the book instead. These are less expensive to purchase because there are less expensive to publish. The first type of paperback that new books generally get published to is called a trade paperback. However, with some books that entire stage is skipped to go directly to mass-market. In other cases, the hardcover is skipped in the trade paperback is the main book the gets published.
Understanding hardcover books is important. There are some standard industry sizes for hardcover books that you should be aware of, and some other nuances with hardcover. Let’s start with understanding the trim size.
Understanding Trim Size
The trim size of a book is simply an industry term for the size of the book. When a book is published, the pages are mechanically trimmed so that they all fit perfectly. That’s why you have a completely flat surface without any bumps or ridges along the page edges of any of the books that you pull off of yourself. To make it easy to understand though, just consider the trim size of a book the physical dimensions of it.
Why Are Standard Sizes Important?
You might be wondering why standard sizes are important in any books out there. No matter if you’re talking about hardcover, trade paperback or mass-market, as well as the different genres out there, there are established standard sizes that almost every book is published in. These standard sizes are specifically designed to fit on the shelf at bookstores and libraries. Publishing a book in a standard size is important, because industry catalogs will not carry books that are not standard, and publishing in one of the sizes that the major publishers use legitimizes a book; even if you are self-publishing.
The Hardcovers of 5.5 x 8.5
There are two industry standards when it comes to hardcover books. Without getting into things like cloth covers and dust jackets, just understand the one of the industry sizes is 5.5 x 8.5.
The Hardcovers of 6 x 9
The other industry size for hardcovers is slightly larger at 6 x 9. These are the two sizes that almost all of the hardcover books are published in. There may be others that do not conform to these standard sizes, but they are pretty rare. If you go into a bookstore or get a hardcover off-the-shelf at your local library, these are the sizes that you will almost always find.
Source for this article: Reedsy