Standard Book Sizes: Mass-Market Paperbacks

One of the book terms that you may have heard of if you are interested in or have studied the publishing industry is the mass-market paperback. Most people are familiar with paperbacks, having read plenty of them, but there are two different types of paperbacks out there. The first is the trade paperback. Trade paperbacks are usually the second stage of life after hardcovers. A previously published hardcover book is usually released in a trade paperback size by the original publisher. But there is another type of book that comes in paperback too: the mass-market paperback. Let’s take a closer look at this publishing trend.

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Trim Sizes

The first thing that you want to understand is the term trim size. This is a term that is used frequently by traditional publishers during the printing process and on self-publishing websites when you start looking at the different size options that are available. Trim size simply means the size of your book – the actual dimensions. The term comes from the process of printing. The pages of books are printed on large sheets which are then folded and glued together, and then later on they are trimmed down to a particular size. This gives every book a smooth surface on all sides except the spine when the pages are closed.

What Are Mass-Market Paperbacks

Mass-market paperbacks are paperbacks that are published for mass distribution. They cost a lot less than trade paperbacks to print because the use cheaper paper for both the book and the cover and they are smaller. The standard size for a mass-market paperback is 4-1/4” x 7”. You have probably read more mass-market paperbacks than trade paperbacks. Trade paperbacks are the soft covers that you find at your local library or on the bookstore shelves. But mass-market paperbacks are sold at airports, grocery stores and lots of other places. Mass-market paperbacks enjoy a much wider distribution then trade paperbacks. They are also sold for a lot less, and those that are on a budget may wish to wait for a book to be released mass-market before they buy it because the price of a trade paperback can be around three times as high as a mass-market paperback.

The Difficulty in Mass-Market for Self-Publishers

The problem with mass-market sizes for self-publishing authors is that so few self-publishing companies offer these sizes. What you have to understand is that publishers already have deals with distributors that put those mass-market paperback books into grocery stores, department stores and all of the other locations where you can find them easily. If you are self-publishing, not only are you going to find it difficult to have a self-publishing company print in mass-market, but you are also going to have an almost impossible time getting your book distributed on a scale like most mass-market paperbacks are distributed. Self-publishing companies, like the print on demand company CreateSpace, offer trade paperback sizes that can get listed in industry catalogs.