Book cover layout explained for Soft Cover book. They are created in InDesign.
Measurements for paperback book cover layout and how to read them
A book cover layout is essential when printing a book. Soft cover books, also called paperbacks, and hardcover books require different layout measurements. Star Print Brokers will supply the measurements in the form of a diagram. We first need to verify the page dimensions, page count, and paper weight. The reason we need to verify paper weight is because of the spine width. It depends on how many pages are in the book, and paper thickness. The cover file is a separate InDesign file from the actual text pages.
Working with Soft Cover / Paperback book cover layout measurements
The book cover layout for a soft cover book is fairly straight forward. If the book measures 8.5″ x 11″, the cover file will measure 17″ x 11″, plus the width of the spine. If the cover bleeds, then under File > Document Setup, include 0.125″ in all four boxes in the bleed settings. Ignore the Slug settings. Note that the bleed may also be set at 3 mm, which is very close to an eighth inch.
In the USA, book designers are typically working in units of inches. However, in Europe and Asia, we work with millimeters. So, here is what we need you to do. Let’s say we are still working with that 8.5″ x 11″ book. We either send you a template that shows the book measurements in millimeters, or we tell you the millimeter width of the spine.
The spine width for your book is 15 mm. Either right click on the rulers to change to millimeters, or go to Edit > Preferences > Units & Increments. Change the horizontal and vertical to millimeters. Click OK.
Go to File > Document Setup again, or right click on the rulers. You will see that the width is 431.8 mm wide x 279.4 mm tall.
Since we are adding 10 mm to the spine, change the width to 446.8 mm. The dimensions of the cover document are now correct.
But, we still need to make sure of the exact placement of the spine
Take a look at the measurement template we sent. The over all width is 446.8 mm x 279.4. While working in inches, left click on the side ruler to drag a blue guideline to 8.5″. Go back to working in millimeters. Note that the guide was just placed at 215.9 mm. Drag another guideline to 230.9 mm. That adds the 15 mm spine width! Now you have your soft cover document that shows where to place the back cover art, spine art and front cover art.
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Here is a shortcut for book cover layout. Set your overall width including the spine, as we did above. But, instead of placing the guidelines, go to Layout > Margins and Columns. Change the number of columns to 2 and the gutter to 15 mm.