More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Books Sizes: The Different Types of Print Formats Explained

Gail Carriger Explains Book Sizes Header

Miss Gail! You cry, the distress coloring your tone, tears in your eyes, lips trembling…

Why can’t I get the print book in the size I desire most?

Why is this book slightly bigger/smaller than other books by the same author?

I know honey, I’m a little anal too. I get your pain. I do.

Here have a handkerchief… Cuppa?

Feeling better?

OK, let me explain…

People have very strong opinions on books sizes and formats. We aren’t going to get into a debate about that here – no we aren’t. Instead, I am going to talk about about the very wide range of book sizes that there are in the world and why you can’t always get what you want. (Sing it with me!)

Would you like a sample?

Different Sizes of Books Hard Cover, Trade, Mass Market, Japanese

Here is Soulless (and Etiquette & Espionage for scale) in a wide range of sizes. From Left to Right:

  • Hardcover USA
  • Trade Paperback large
  • Trade Paperback medium
  • Mass Market Paperback USA
  • Japanese wee

Shall I make it even more confusing?

A small sample of just trade paperback sizes

the leaning tower of Soulless

Yeah there are different hard covers sizes too. I know, right?

Honestly it’s a mess.

So that’s what the world of publishing is like. (You can carry that same level of illogical chaos into the business side of the industry too.)

Book sizes are further complicated by metric versus not metric. (For reasons of me being a former archaeologist, I tend to blog in metric.)

Gail Carriger Different book sizes USA vrs UK Imprudence

Different books sizes: USA Hardcover, USA trade paperback, UK b-format trade paperback

See above, that’s just the English language new releases!

Still with me?

The Custard Protocol books release to the USA in hardcover, then about six months after the USA trade paperback releases.

  • We aren’t going to talk about hard cover because I can’t control that. Or, more precisely, at the moment I don’t want to.
  • We aren’t going to talk about mass market. That’s my favorite size and my books don’t come out in it anymore. I’m a bitter sad resentful old bitty about it.

Instead we will talk…


USA Trade (non-standardized)

For Gail Carriger (that’s me), that size in the USA is:

20.85 cm X 13.80 cm

This is the exact same size of the Finishing School and Parasol Protectorate trade paperbacks. These are the ones that are still available new.  So if you wanted all my novels in EXACTLY the same size, then you’d need the USA trade paperback size.


In the UK the most common (although there is a wide range) trade paperback size is something called b-format.

B-Format (UK standard)

That size is:

19.80 cm X 12.60

These are all stupid measurements. It bugs the donkey’s butt out of me.

So B format is smaller than USA trade (for me).

Guess what else, I can’t print exactly that size myself for my self published projects.



When self publishing, especially in order to distribute as widely as possible and in as many different parts of the world, I’m much more limited in options similar to either of my USA or UK trade – that still allow me to cover costs. (I already make little to no money on print editions of my indie books, going custom is simply not an option.)

So I chose…

20.20 cm X 12.50 cm

That’s taller but about the same width as the UK’s B-format.

Why use that size?

Well that’s billed as 8 X 5 inches on most publishing platforms. It actually isn’t, it’s slightly smaller, but it’s good enough, and it’s easiest to work with. This size has been standardized as the smallest option for self pub, easily accessible, on both Ingram and KDP Print (formerly Createspace). I prefer smaller books and I need to stay smaller for my novellas so I get some kind of spine to work with. (It needs to be thicker.)

So that’s what you get.

So yeah, If you’re upset that Competence for the UK is about 4 mm taller than Prudence and Imprudence. I tried, I really did. But at least this matches to my novellas. And the Custard Protocol series is interrupted by novellas, if you want to stack them that way on your shelf at least so all the later ones will match.

Wait, what?

Written & in-world chronological reading order of my 1890s set Parasolverse books should go something like:

  1. Prudence (Custard Protocol Book 1)
  2. Imprudence (Custard Protocol Book 2)
  3. Romancing the Werewolf (Supernatural Society Novella)
  4. Competence (Custard Protocol Book 3)
  5. How to Marry a Werewolf (Claw & Courtship Novella)
  6. Reticence (Custard Protocol Book 4)
  7. More Claw & Courtship novellas possibly set before/during, or after Reticence.

Make sense?

No it doesn’t. But then again the fricken sizes of books makes no sense to me, why shouldn’t I pass along the pain?

The suffering.

Oh, publishing.

Yours etc,

Miss Gail

Want more of me complaining about the insides of the publishing industry as it stands right now? That’s in my monthly newsletter, the Chirrup. Join today!

You Don’t Have To Take My Word For It

Book de Jour!

Vendor of Choice


 Amazon.uk (paperback)| Book Depository (paperback) Kobo

Direct from Gail for Kindle .mobi | non-Amazon digital readers .epub

 Competence by Gail Carriger is the third in the Custard Protocol series featuring Primrose, Rue, and all their crazy friends..

Accidentally abandoned!

All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail.


Book extra:

Aggie by Ace Artemis Fan Artist

Quote of the Day:

“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.”

~ James Bryce

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? Wiki that sheez!

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