Formats and Bindings

Flexible Formats

Book formats having a flexible cover around the text block. The flexible cover may be made of paper, or real or imitation leather bindings ("limp leather").

Mass Market Paperback

A mass market paperback (MMP) is a small (4"x7"), usually non-illustrated, and inexpensive bookbinding format. They are commonly released after the hardback edition, and often sold in non-traditional bookselling locations such as airports and supermarkets, as well as in traditional bookstores.

Following is an example of a Mass Market Paperback: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court


A book bound in paper wraps, frequently glued onto the text block. Common examples are Mass Market Paperbacks and Trade Paperbacks.

Soft Cover

Description here

Trade paperback

A trade paperback (TPB), sometimes referred to as a trade paper edition, is a paperback book that may be the same size as a hardcover edition. A typical size for a trade paperback may be 6"x9", although larger trade paperbacks exist. The quality of the paper is usually higher than that of a mass market paperback. Trade paperbacks are typically priced less than hardcover books and higher than mass market paperbacks. The term Trade Paperback is commonly used to describe collections of comic books, although the format is not limited to comic collections.

Inflexible Formats

Book formats having a rigid cover protecting the text block.

Board Book

A format primarily designed for use by young children, this book contains pages that are made of stiff cardboard material which hold up well to constant handling. Oftentimes, these books will be formed into shapes or have cutouts that further enhance the design of the book.

Following is an example of a Board Book for children: Barnyard Dance!
Following is an example of a Board Book not specifically designed for children: Best Burgers


A hardback book is one bound with rigid protective covers ("boards"), typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or leather. Most hardback books have a flexible, sewn spine. Hardback books are more durable than paperbacks, which have easily damaged paper covers. Hardback books are frequently protected by printed dust jackets, but some print a cover design directly onto paper covering the boards.

Periodical Formats

Periodical publications are published in a new edition on a regular schedule. Examples include magazines, typically published weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Other examples are newsletters, academic journals, and yearbooks.

Academic Journal

An academic journal is a peer-reviewed or refereed periodical devoted to a particular academic discipline. Content may include articles presenting original research and review articles.


Magazines are publications, usually periodical publications. They are generally published on a regular schedule and contain a variety of content, normally directed at a popular audience. Magazines are financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by prepaid subscriptions, or a combination of the three. A standard magazine size is roughly 8 3⁄8” x 10 7⁄8”.

Bedsheet Magazine

Bedsheet magazines were were about the size of Life magazine, but with square spines. The standard bedsheet size is about 9¾" x 12". Early science fiction magazines, including Amazing Stories and Wonder Stories, were initially published in a bedsheet format, but later changed to the pulp magazine format.

Following is an example of a Bedsheet Magazine: Unknown Worlds, Aug. 1942
Another example of a Bedsheet Magazine: Ghost Stories, August 1926


Digest magazines are smaller than a conventional or "journal size" magazine, but larger than a standard paperback book/ Digests are typically 5 1⁄2 inches wide and 7 1/2 to 8 1⁄4 inches high. The most famous digest-sized magazine is Reader's Digest. The digest was a common format for fiction magazines from the 1950s onward, including Galaxy, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and others. TV Guide was published as a digest from 1953 until 2005.

Following is an example of a Digest Magazine: The Reader's Digest Vol. 45, No. 270

Pulp Magazine

Pulp magazines were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 through the 1950s. Pulp magazines were printed on uncoated wood pulp paper. The typical pulp magazine was 7 inches (18 cm) wide by 10 inches (25 cm) high, with ragged, untrimmed edges. The magazine cover was normally larger than the text block, with significant overhang at the edges. However, some pulps were published with trimmed edges.

Following is an example of a Pulp Magazine: Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1949

Slick Magazine

Slick magazines ("slicks") were printed on high-quality glossy paper. The term was used to distinguish slick magazines from pulp magazines ("pulps"), which were printed on cheap, rough paper. The slicks were perceived as higher quality than the pulps, and were intended to appeal to a more elite audience. Many writers from the pulp magazines graduated to the higher-paying slicks.

Other Formats


A book in audio form. Usually a narrator or voice actor will read the text and it will be transferred to vinyl, cassette, CD or digital files. Audiobooks can contain the complete text of the book but are oftentimes abridged versions.


A chapbook is a publication of up to about 40 pages, usually poetry or fiction, typically in soft covers bound with a saddle stitch or perfect bound. Some chapbooks may be released in hardcover.

Following is an example of a saddle-stitched Chapbook: Island Funeral
Following is an example of a hardcover Chapbook: Christmas with the Dead


Comb Binding

Following is an example of a Comb Binding: Zeta Focus

Perfect Binding

Perfect binding, also known as adhesive binding, applies an adhesive to the spine of a text block of multiple sheets. A paper or paperboard cover is attached over the binding adhesive. Perfect bound publications have rectangular backbones. Perfect binding is commonly used for paperback books. About 40% of national magazines are perfect bound.

Saddle Stitching

Saddle Stitching is a binding method in which folded sheets are stapled through the fold line with wire staples.

Sewn Bindings

Saddle sewn

In Saddle Sewn bindings, folded sheets are sewn together through the fold line with thread.

Side sewn

In Side Sewn bindings, thread is sewn from the front cover to the back cover, through the entire thickness of the book.

Spiral Binding (also known as Coil Binding)

A soft or hard cover book that has binding made of thin steel, plastic (or other material) formed into a spiral shape.