This section on paper will help you to work out which paper is right for your book, and how to calculate the spine width for your cover design
Your Book's Paper Choice
At Self Publish Australia, we use papers that have been chosen based on the suitability of their characteristics for the range of book products that we manufacture.
This is our most common and economical paper used for short-run books, ie under 500 books. It has a smooth 'photocopy paper' feel and bulk. Black & white images have superior reproduction quality.
This grade of paper is best used in books that do not need halftones or stipples (images). Bulky News is generally used for mass market paperbacks and, as the name suggests, it is close to newsprint in appearance. We use this for both short and long run book printing.
Creamy in colour and best suited to straight text for fiction novels. These stocks bulk up quite well to provide a good sized spine for your book. Images can be reproduced on Book Creams, but do not achieve the best results (Fine Offset is best for images). A coarse stipple can be used for chapter headings and other decorative purposes, but fine detail should be avoided. Only suitable for book print runs over 500.
Neither Bulky News nor Book Creams should be used where you have a fine serif in your typeface. There is a tendency for the fine ascenders and descenders to break up due to the coarse surface of the paper when ink or toner is applied.
Bulky Paperback and Fine Offset are our white papers. Bulky Paperback bulks up significantly for a low grammage book paper, and it also holds halftones reasonably well. However, it is not a smooth white, which is why it bulks up so well. If you are looking for a smoother paper and something that holds images and the finer details of typefaces or stipples, then Fine Offset is the right choice of paper.
Smooth, quality white stock but does not have the same bulking characteristics as the Bulky Paperback. Fine Offset is typically used for non-fiction titles where images and line illustrations, etc need to be reproduced within the body text. We use this for both short and long run book printing.
Matt Art and Gloss Arts are used for illustration sections and offer the best reproduction values for halftones or colour images.
Please note, our publishing assistants will be able to offer advice on the most suitable stock for your book printing project.
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Calculating Your Book's Spine Width (Thickness)
If you are to undertake the design of your book cover, it is essential you know the width of your spine to integrate this into the final cover design.
NB: This is only a guide and we will confirm spine widths before final cover art submitted to us.
To calculate the estimated spine width of your book, simply use the following formula:
Spine = [(Page Extent)/2] x Paper Bulk + 0.5mm, then round up to the nearest half millimetre.
Our standard paper bulks are as follows.
Paper Type Bulk (microns)
80gsm Laserspeed White 0.100
79gsm Bulky Paperback 0.138
70gsm Creamy 0.140 (+500 book orders only)
80gsm Fine Offset 0.100
90gsm Fine Offset 0.111
100gsm Fine Offset 0.120
For example, the spine width of a 200pp book printed on 79gsm Bulky Paperback will be (200/2) x 0.100 = 13.8mm. Add approximately 0.5mm for glue, then round up to the nearest half millimetre. This gives a total spine width of 15mm.
NB: The spine width calculator is a guide only, and should be used as such.
To make your self publishing experience simpler, you can leave the most appropriate choice of paper up to our suitably knowledgable Publishing Assistants, based on your specific book requirements.
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