CreateSpace produces a few different trim sizes. 6 x 9 is the most common trim size.
Okay, now I’m going to back this post up a bit – some of the folks reading this might be doing self publishing already, some might be about to go into it, and some might have never considered it – basically I have no way of knowing if you, dear reader, knows what trim size is. Basically, it’s the size of your book. 6 x 9 is referred to as a trade paperback, basically the same size as a hardcover, but with a paper cover.
So, I initially published my book (the paper version at least) on CreateSpace, which is owned by Amazon. I retail that book for 13.99 USD.
I really wanted a mass market paperback edition as well, the size of the small books you see in every bookstore. I went to Lulu press for that. Lulu does mass market paperback, up to a maximum of 740 pages. Now, what I didn’t realize is that their per page cost is pretty high, so my cost per copy is actually $10.20, so I have to retail that book for $20 (the price I listed before is what I pay per copy, shipping is on top of that, and is 5.99 or more, depending on shipping options). Now, the Lulu price is in Canadian dollars, not US, so it’s a little better. In the end after shipping it’s pretty similar for me to buy a retail copy of my book on CreateSpace and an author copy on Lulu. So, the main appeal of the mass market paperback size is gone.
Having said that, I still want that size. Also, shipping goes down when I order more, and when I get enough there is even a per copy discount on the printing. I might at some point order 30 mass market paperbacks… that’s the point where mass market paperback starts to make sense. I can sell those for 13.99 a copy (in person of course, not online) and make a couple of dollars per book.
Of course when I sell my e-books I make almost five bucks per, same as when I sell my 6×9 through Amazon (the best option is direct through CreateSpace). It’s funny, the mass market paperback was created as a lower cost alternative to Trade Paperback, but they cost self-published authors more.
Anyway, those are the two most common trim sizes you will see in a regular bookstore (not counting premium books like photo books or cookbooks which are whatever size the publisher decides they are). I’m starting to understand why most indie presses go with trade paperback as well…