Does Size Matter?

fireborn-book-in-hand

They say size doesn’t matter, but I do have questions.  I want your opinion about the size of books.  What?  Hey!  Get your mind out of the gutter! ;)

Both The Fireborn and Seasons of Imagination are printed at 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ (see photo at top of page for how big that is).  It seems to be a great compromise.  But then, I do see a lot of books at 6″ by 9″.  In fact, 6″ x 9″ seems to be the most popular size in self-publishing, though I do have a few tradition published books in that size.  And it isn’t a huge difference.  The smaller size seems to be easier to take with you when going to the beach or whatever, but reading them, I don’t see a lot of difference.  Well, you do get more text per page with the larger, so less page-turning.  But I don’t really notice while reading.

There are actually a lot of smaller sizes.  I have a whole shelf full of traditionally published books that are 5 1/4″ by 8″.  And the old-fashioned paper back is even smaller – 90% of the paperbacks I have that are more than 10 years old are 4 1/4″ by 7″.  That, to me, is too small, but it was a very popular size for a long time.  On the bigger side almost every computer book I have (30 or more) are 7 1/4″ by 9 1/4″.

What are your opinions about the size of books?  Does it make a difference to you?

29 thoughts on “Does Size Matter?

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I don’t know if you read to comments, but I decided to stick with 5.5 x 8.5. I think it is a good compromise between the modern “traditional” 5.25 x 8 and the more common self-publish 6×9. Whatever works for you, go for it! I don’t think the size will stop too many sales or stop recommendations if the book is good.

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  1. mwlange

    I know when I self-published under a pseudonym Amazon recommended 6×9. If I had to do it over again, I might have wanted to do a smaller size. Then again, I also am used to reading the small trade paperbacks, so it might be a matter of familiarity.

    I don’t think you can go wrong with book size so long as it’s not a pain to read close to the center of the book (the gutter, I think was the term), and that the paper quality doesn’t get in the way of reading the text. Both are related to actual readability rather than portability. Then again, a larger cover does mean it’s easier for other people to spy the title.

    Best of luck in picking a book size!

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Amazon does push the 6 x 9 and since they charge by number of pages, and the bigger the book the less pages, having the larger size gives you a bigger profit per book for a given price. I decided to stick with the 5.5 x 8.5. I think it is a good compromise between the smaller size and price to print.

      The paper they use for KDP books is good. I have KDP books in both white and ivory. I spent some time and showed them to a few readers and finally went with (stuck with) ivory. I think people find it easier on the eyes.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I printed sample paragraphs in different font sizes and found an 11 pt to be the most common, so that is what I use. Yeah, pretty small, though 12 (which I typically use) isn’t that much bigger. I can see going bigger for some books, which, as you said, would need a bigger page size, like 6 x 9. Thanks.

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  2. eloisedesousa

    I struggled finding the right size for my books and when I choose one (6×9) I was told it wasn’t the favourable size for prints at that time. It’s ever changing. I would suggest paying a visit to your local book store and seeing the sizes of books in your genre.

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  3. Sarah Potter Writes

    Generally, I think that 5 x 8 is best and looks more professional. The cover doesn’t curl to much that way and you can put it in a coat pocket or bag and transport it about better. And talking of covers, matt rather than shiny looks best, too. Shiny is for children’s books. That’s my opinion, for what it’s worth. But, as you say, if a book is long, then 6 X 9 is probably better. I’ve just read Stephen and Owen King’s “Sleeping Beauties”. I think it would have been incredibly fat as a 5 X 8.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I can see that. I do see a lot of traditionally published books at 5.25 x 8 and it does look professional. I have a few traditionally published books at the larger sizes as well, but I think it is more common in indie and self publishing, so it looks more, well, self-published. I recently read Stephen King’s The Stand. It was 5.25 x 8, and was unwieldy thick. It would have been much better at 6×9. Besides being cheaper for on-demand printing, I think the larger sizes uses the higher quality paper is supposed be more like a hardcover stand in for those of us not printing hardcovers. But for the most part, I do think smaller is better.

      Thanks for your input.

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  4. msidharthan

    I don’t think there’s much difference between the two. I find it harder to hold longer books though, and hardcovers. Paperbacks with 5.5×8.5 or 6×9 flies with me, I guess, unless the book has a really long word count and has to have bigger dimensions.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks. Seeing them side by side there is some difference, but actually reading I don’t feel it as much. I just read The Stand and it was -thick-! It was a little hard to handle since it was in a smaller size, I think 5.25 x 8. That would have been better at 6×9.

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          The 6 x 9 is a pretty good size – the same size or smaller than most hardbacks, but I do get the portability, handling, etc. Right now I’m pretty much sold on 5 1/2 x 8 1/2.

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  5. Sandra Conner

    :) :) :) In reference to your first paragraph — It’s good that you cleared up the subject matter, because, after all, when looking at a book cover with naked blue men on it, one COULD get the wrong idea when you ask about size. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist responding to that.)

    Now, as for book size. I know Amazon says that 6 x 9 is their most popular size, and I do see a number of traditionally published books in that size — as well as the much smaller sizes you mentioned. But, personally, I much prefer the 5 1/2 x 8 1/2. I’ve published almost all my books in that size. The only time I used a different size was when the content needed it.

    For example, “Racing Toward The Light” was a much longer novel than most of my others, so I went with the 6 x 9 so that it wouldn’t be too bulky to hold and read. It comes out at 341 pages even in 6 x 9, so I wouldn’t have wanted it smaller. Then I published a couple of books that were on the short end — one was a novella and one was a book of poetry. I did both of those in 5 x 8. That allowed me to have enough pages in the novella to have text on the spine of the book (because it has to be thick enough to allow for that), and for the poetry book, it allowed me to have the poems and pictures spaced one to a page without the pages looking too sparse.

    Don’t know if this info helps, but it does give you some more details to think about.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      You need to look at the relationship between the size of the book and the size of the hand, that relationship! ;) lol I can’t believe I didn’t think of that when I decided to use the picture, but you know, actually it does make the title of the post even more of a joke.

      I’m sure that 6 x 9 is the most popular has to do with the price to print, price of the book and profit. I had thought about going even smaller, maybe closer to 5 x8 (or 5 1/4 x 8) until I saw the difference in printing cost. I would have had to raise the price per book just to have it printed and I didn’t want to.

      Thanks for your input. It does help to know what others think and do.

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  6. Corina

    I no longer read physical books but I took out my Kindle Voyage to get an idea of how different sizes fit in my hand. It’s 6.4 x 4.2. I think for paperbacks I wild like the smaller size you’re thinking of. Easier to hold (remember women tend to have smaller hands) and very easy to fit into a purse or some pockets.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      In its KDP write up, Amazon says 6 x 9 is the most popular, but I think that is because it costs less to print, so if the indie author prices it the same no matter the size, 6 x 9 will give them a bigger profit – I think around half again as much per book as 5 1/2 x 8 1/2. I think I do tend towards the smaller size. Thanks for your input.

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