Why Are Standard Book Sizes Important?
There are a lot of different book sizes on the market. In fact, book sizes vary so much that it can seem like that the entire publishing industry is a free-for-all. But the truth is, there are some pretty specific book sizes that are known as “industry standards sizes” that almost every traditional publisher out there uses. You also find these standard sizes with many self-publishing services. The reason that these book sizes exist has to do with them fitting on the shelves mostly, but there are other advantages to going with standard book sizes as well. Let’s take a look at the reasons why standard book sizes are important.
Customers Are Used to Standard Book Sizes
While not the most important reason, one of the reason hat publishers stick to these sizes is that customers are able to recognize their legitimacy as actual books. When you go into a bookstore, a book that is a lot smaller or larger than industry sizes – or is oddly shaped – might draw some attention as a novelty, but people may not take that book as seriously as they do the more standard sizes. People are simply used to seeing certain sizes for books, hardcover and paperback, and that’s the best way to get readers to buy them.
Industry Catalogs Will Not Carry Non-Industry Standards
Another thing that you will notice if you go look at the sizes offered by a self-publishing service like CreateSpace is that there are other sizes available for printing, but as CreateSpace will tell you, you are not able to use their extended distribution options if you choose a non-standard size because the industry catalogs simply won’t carry them. Catalogs like Baker & Taylor or Ingram, which service libraries, schools & bookstores, will only carry books that fit established industry sizes because that is what the people ordering from them expect. Without being listed in Ingram, you have no almost no chance of getting bookstores to put your book on the shelf.
Standard Sizes Are Required for Print-on-Demand
While CreateSpace offers non-standard book sizes for their print-on-demand service, most of the POD companies out there do not. Most of them stick to industry standard sizes – and in fact – only offer a limited number of those. That’s due to the nature of print-on-demand. Since each book is printed and bound when it is ordered, the more sizes that a POD company offers, the more difficult it is for them to fulfill orders because they may need additional equipment to serve those sizes.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that standard book sizes are important. If you publish traditionally, your publisher will determine which of the standard sizes are important. If you are self-publishing, then you need to carefully consider whether you want to go outside of industry standard lines; understanding the risk that comes with not publishing to industry standards. If you don’t have a good reason to choose an unusual size, then you probably should stick with standard.