Not all spines are created equal

by Jim Shubin

Dear Book Alchemist,

I’ve got a spine problem: I received proofs from two different print-on-demand suppliers, and the spines are different thicknesses. What’s up with that? Do I need two different spines?



Dear  JJ,

Not all spines are created equal. Or do I mean equally? Never mind; the point is, yes, you’ll probably need to adjust your cover art (the spine is part of the cover art) when you publish with different suppliers.

spine difference

Above are two copies of the same 98-page book. One was printed by Create Space and the other by Ingram.

As you can see, the books are significantly different in thickness—that’s because different types of paper were used. Generally, you can specify paper color (white, cream, or natural, depending on the supplier) but not weight or thickness. Which means you’ll probably need to adjust your cover art for each different printer you work with.

Here’s how: Log into each account, navigate to the section on uploading your cover, and find the “spine calculator” for that supplier. Enter the trim size of your book, plus the number of pages (remember to include all the un-numbered pages, like the title page and copyright page), and you’ll get a downloadable template showing the bleed area, trim size, safe area (for copy), and the spine width.

An experienced book designer (like the Book Alchemist) can manage this for you.

Previous post:

Next post: