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Definitions of Book Terms



The following book terms should help you to better understand the book publishing process.


Trim size: the final size of a book is called the trim size. This is the final size of the printed page after excess edges have been cut off or trimmed.


Spine: the book spine is very important because if the book is stacked on shelves, as in a book store – the only visible surface will be the spine. The spine can contain the book's title, authors name, genre, publisher's information.


Hardcover Binding: a hard cover book has a rigid cover and is stitched in the spine.


Trade paperback (TPB) is often regarded as the soft cover edition of a previous hardcover edition. The typical trade paperback is price less than the hardcover book but higher than the mass-market paperback. The book, if published by the same publisher, is normally the same size as the hardcover edition. The only difference is the soft binding. The quality of paper used in trade paperback is usually higher than the mass-market paperback.


Paperback, softback, or softcover describe and refer to a book with a soft cover usually made of paper and held together with glue rather than stitches or staples. Paperback is a low cost format of book binding. Most hardcover editions will eventually be marketed in paperback format and in modern day publishing many genre fictions are first editions in paperback. If the book is a best seller the publisher may delay a paperback edition for a longer period to maximize profits.


Perfect binding is a method of thermally gluing your book content to a soft cover.  The book is sectioned and rough-cuts made in the spine area. This method allows easier absorption of the hot glue and allows the book to be opened easily.


ISBN is the International Standard Book Number. The ISBN consists of a series of numbers placed on the back of the book and the copyright page. Bookstores will not order a book without an ISBN and the ISBN is necessary to market your book to libraries. The ISBN can be obtained from the R.R. Bowker website.


LCCN / PCN: LCCN is the Library of Congress Catalog Number and PCN is the Preassigned Control Number. These numbers are necessary if your book is to be ordered by libraries.


EAN/Bookland bar code is the bar code specially designed for books. It gives the book's retail price and goes in the lower right corner of the back cover.


Copyright protects your work from others, establishing it as your original work. Copyrights exist automatically as a matter of law in any original work of authorship, and are enforceable if notice of copyright is given in the form of "Copyright © year by name." It is not absolutely necessary to register and registration will not establish or validate a copyright. It is however required as a prerequisite before filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement. 


Fonts are all letters, numbers, special characters and spaces used in writing any text. There are two basic font types: serif and sans serif. Serif has little extra lines constituting the character; sans-serif (like these) does not. Serif is generally preferred as an interior text font style. There are thousands of fonts and not all are appropriate for fiction works.


Dust jacket or dust cover is the detachable outer cover that folds over the front and back of a book to protect the book cover from damage. It is usually has cover graphics and includes biographical information about the author and offers a summary or blurb of the book – generally written by the publisher. Like the main book cover the dust jacket can also include promotional information and reviews.