Tip of the Week: Choosing the Right Book Size

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It’s one of those questions every bookmaker must face, whether you’re creating your first book or your twentieth, a personal gift or a professional portfolio: What size should it be?

In theory, a book can be just about any size, from the microscopic to the gargantuan. But let’s be practical. Blurb currently offers a sensible selection of seven standard trim sizes, one of which is sure to fit almost any project you’re likely to undertake.

The Best Book Sizes for Black and White “Wordy” Books

If you’re a wordsmith working on a novel, poetry collection, or other text-heavy book, Blurb has two sizes just for you: Black and White Text Trade (6×9 in./15×23 cm.) and Black and White Text Pocket (5×8 in./13×20 cm), and while they may sound very similar, the difference becomes apparent when seen side by side.

size comparison Tip of the Week: Choosing the Right Book Size

The larger Trade size is great for novels and nonfiction – this is the standard “trade book” size you’ll find on most bookstore and library shelves. It’s large enough to feel substantial, with room for ample margins and other negative space that can give your book a professional appearance. The smaller, more intimate Pocket size also offers plenty of room and looks great in a novel, but its slimmer feel is particularly suited to smaller blocks of text, such as poems.

How to Choose the Best Book Size for Photo Books

For photo books, where the rules are looser, two important considerations are the intended audience and the resolution of your photos. If you go big, opting for our Large Square (12×12 in / 30×30 cm) or Large Landscape (13×11 in / 33 x 28 cm), you’re sure to make a big impact on a coffee table or other display space. But you may need extra-large bookshelves for upright storage. Also remember that the bigger your page, the more pixels you’ll need to fill it. Since Blurb books are printed at 300 DPI, we recommend your image resolution also be 300 DPI. So a 12×12 in. page comes out to 3,600 pixels on a side, or about 12 megapixels. You don’t necessarily have to have such large images to make a gorgeous Large Square book, but it’s something to consider. For more about image resolution in Blurb books, take a look at this FAQ.

On the other end of the scale, the more modest Small Square (7×7 in./18 x 18cm.) makes a great choice for personal gifts or books that feature lower-resolution images, such as casual snapshots or pictures taken with a mobile device. But if you want to add extensive captions or make those photos really stand out, you may want to split the difference and go for a Standard Landscape (10 x 8 in / 25 x 20 cm) or Standard Portrait (8 x 10 in / 20 x 25). For the detailed specs on all of Blurb’s sizes, check out our Book Dimensions page.

The Best Place to Go for Inspiration

Still not sure what to choose? Take a spin through the Blurb Bookstore, see what other bookmakers have done in various sizes, and get inspired. You might also try making a 7×7 Softcover proof book first just to see how the pacing, sequencing, and such are working out, and then choose the book size you’d like for your final copy. Whatever you do, just start. Forget about perfection, go for creativity, and you’ll be fine.

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  1. Another factor to bear in mind, if your book is for sale, is that buyers tend to associate larger formats with larger price tags. So there is a fairly rigid upper limit on what you can charge for a 7 x 7in book. The limit gets relaxed a bit on the larger formats.

    By Tony Richardson
      October 15, 2010 – 2:01 am   Permalink
  2. It would be great if you could order the same book in different sizes without needing to recreate it from scratch. For instance, I’ve made a few 12×12 books but would love to be able to convert them to 7×7 to travel with or give to relatives. The only solution appears to be to make 2 totally separate books – very time consuming considering every page is a custom layout (you also can’t easily load your custom 12×12 templates to a 7×7 book).
    I wouldn’t think it’d be that difficult to order smaller sizes once the book is online… or to load the large version into a small BookSmart version noting that the user should carefully review the new book and will likely need to make a few modifications.

    By Nicole Curran
      November 2, 2010 – 2:14 pm   Permalink
  3. Hi Nicole,
    This is a popular request and we’ll pass this along to our product team. Thanks for your feedback!

      November 3, 2010 – 12:15 pm   Permalink

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