Book Printing: 5 Tips for making Pocket-Sized Books more User Friendly

pocket-sized-bookPocket-Sized Books offer a cost-effective option for sharing printed information. The smaller dimensions not only result in a lower printing cost than a full-sized book, the compact format makes it easier to distribute the books by hand or through the mail.

Also, because pocket-size books are designed to fit into a shirt or hip pocket (or purse) they are more convenient to carry than a full-size book. Being so portable and handy ensures the information within the book is more readily accessible to the user.

Virtually any type of book can be created in a smaller format, but books designed for quick reference seem to be extremely well-suited for a “fit in your pocket” size. These include rules and regulations, codes and definitions, quotes and scripture, travel guides and language phrasebooks, survival tips and field guides, emergency and first aid manuals, and a host of other practical topics and applications.

Regardless of the type of content you have planned, below are five design tips that will make your pocket-sized book more user friendly…

Keep Text Size Readable

Just because the physical dimensions of a pocket-size book are small doesn’t mean the text size has to be tiny. If the reader of the book has to squint or use a magnifying glass, the usefulness of the book will be greatly diminished. Keep the text at a readable size and aim for good contrast. Also, use proportional line spacing and page margins so the text does not appear too crowded on the pages.

Round the Corners

Most pocket-sized books are intended to see frequent use. By rounding the corners of the book’s cover and pages, the corners will be less likely to bend backwards when the book is shoved into a pocket or purse. By reducing the occurrence of snags and dog-eared pages, rounded corners help maintain the professional appearance of the book.

Laminate the Cover

A book that is handled frequently will be subject to stains, spills, tears and abrasions. Bonding a clear plastic laminate to the cover will extend the life of the book. In addition to adding a layer of protection, the laminate also adds strength and rigidity. Laminate film is available in a variety of finish choices, with the most popular being gloss, matte and “soft touch.”

Choose Practical Dimensions

Many pocket-size books are created as 4” x 5” or 4” x 6”, which are very handy sizes. That said, if you truly envision the book being stored in the breast pocket of a shirt, aim for a width less than 4”. This will allow the book to fit into most shirt pockets without being too snug. For example, 3.5” x 5” is a very popular size for books intended for shirt pockets.

Select the Appropriate Binding Option

Most pocket-sized books are saddle-stitched. The saddle-stitch binding method uses printed sheets that are folded and nested one inside the other and then stapled through the fold line with wire staples. The staples pass through the folded crease from the outside and are clinched between the centermost pages. Saddle-stitching works best with books that have a relatively low page count.

As the page count increases, the saddle-stitch method will no longer be the best choice. This is because the staples can only accommodate so many sheets of a given thickness. Too many sheets and a saddle-stitch book will be inclined to “spring open.” This is especially true for books of a small physical size. So, once the page count of a pocket-sized book gets beyond the limit of what the saddle-stitch method can accommodate, the Perfect Binding and Coil Binding methods are recommended.

Perfect Binding uses a strong, yet flexible, thermal glue to join the pages and cover together. Once the cover is wrapped around the pages and the book is glued together at the spine, the three open sides of the book are trimmed to give them clean “perfect” edges. The perfect binding method can accommodate higher page counts and creates a rigid spine. If the spine is wide enough, it can be printed with the book’s title or other information.

Coil Binding, also known as Spiral Binding, joins the pages and cover of a book using a durable plastic coil. The coil is inserted and twisted through small holes punched along the spinal edge of the book’s cover and pages. One of the primary benefits of coil binding is that the pages can be opened a full 360 degrees (cover to cover). This allows an open book to fold back upon itself and yet still remain flat, so it stays open for easy reference. Most coil bound books are bound along the side. However, placing the binding coil along the top may work better for certain applications of pocket-sized books.

Not all printers can print and bind books in a small format. Fortunately, Formax can create your pocket-size book in just about any dimensions you may require. Plus, we offer all popular softcover binding styles and a variety of laminate choices.

Book printing is our specialty, so give us a call at 866-367-6221 to discuss your project. Or, if you already know your specifications, click here to access our easy quote request form. As always, we look forward to assisting with your book printing needs!

Take care!  Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include full-color printing, all types of softcover books, laminated printing, plus fulfillment and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 314-434-5500 or 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services for over 30 years.

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