With the expanding number of art and photography books we’ve been printing, we were a little frustrated by our maximum page size of 11-5/8″ x 11-5/8″. Our clients want to print large books! Since that maximum was set, we’ve had lots of changes in printing and binding equipment, all of which affect the maximum page size. Based on feedback from customers, Nicole Baxter, our sales and marketing manager, said it would be really nice to move the maximum up to 12″ x 12″. Now, you wouldn’t think that adding 3/8″ of an inch would be that hard of a change to make, but it required investigating every step in the production process and every piece of equipment involved to make sure it was doable. So our operations manager, Dieter Slezak, did just that, for paperbacks, paperbacks with French flaps, hardcovers, hardcovers with printed cases, and hardcovers with dust jackets. The result is that, yes, we can print and bind pages up to 12″ x 12″ in size, depending on the number of pages in the book, the type of paper, the binding, and whether the book has a dust jacket.

With the results of Dieter’s investigations in hand, we’ve added online calculators for both paperbacks and hardcovers.

The maximum page size depends on factors throughout the production process:

  • The number of pages in the book and the thickness of the paper the pages are printed on. This determines the thickness of the spine, which must be added into the cover width.
  • Whether there are flaps on a paperback, which typically add around 6″ to the width of the cover.
  • Whether there is a dust jacket on a hardcover. Every piece of equipment has to be able to handle the width of a dust jacket, which for a 12″ x 12″ book could be 36″ wide. This means that every piece of equipment (the press, the laminator, and trimmers) have to be able to handle that 36″ width. Our maximum cutter size is 30″: this remains our only limitation for 12″ x 12″ hardcovers with dust jackets. Currently we can print and bind hardcovers with dust jackets with page sizes up to 9-7/8″ x 12″—still a pretty big page size—but we would like to increase that maximum width to 12″, so we are looking at ways to fix this limitation.
  • Allowance for 1/8″ bleed for both covers and interiors.
  • Allowance for free space at the edge of the sheet where the press reaches the limits of the image area. This depends on the particular press.
  • Allowance for free space at the edges of paperback covers and dust jackets for running the printed covers through the laminator.
  • The maximum size of a book block that will fit in the clamp in the perfect binder that holds the book block while the cover is applied.
  • The maximum size of cover that will fit in the cover feeder of the perfect binder.
  • Finally, the maximum size of the cartons we use to ship the books in.

None of these factors has any wiggle room whatsoever: we’re talking about physical dimensions here, of materials and machines. It’s not like images where you can crop, or words where you can rework to be more concise.

Here again are links to the new online calculators:

Maximum Page Size Calculator for Paperbacks

Maximum Page Size Calculator for Hardcovers