Print on demand (POD), is the commonly used term for the digital printing technology that allows a complete book to be printed and bound in a matter of minutes and only after it’s been ordered by a customer. POD is different from mass market publishing. Traditional publishers usually print thousands of copies all at once while POD technology makes it easy and cost-effective to produce books one at a time or in small lots.

Things to consider:

  • Bleed – Add bleed to your template. Depending on the type of book you’re creating, you may need to add a regular 3mm bleed for triming or a 25mm Turn-In bleed for a hardcover case wrap.
  • Color – CMYK for the covers, CMYK or Grayscale for the inner pages.
  • Image quality – use high resolution 300 DPI images.
  • Margins – The inner pages of the book usually have margins on each side.
  • Fonts – Make sure that the text is readable and try to avoid the auto font resize option for the inner content text frames.
  • Covers – You may equipt your template with a few cover options for the user to chose from: A one-piece hardcover Casewrap or DustJacket, one-piece softcover Wraparound or seperate front and back cover. This gives the user a variety of binding options for the book.
  • ISBN barcode – Add a optional image placeholder variable field on the back cover so that the user can upload it’s own ISBN barcode.


There are many different standard book sizes. The most common are:

Standard book sizes
Book Type
Dimensions (mm) Dimensions (in) Free template file
US trade (octavo) 152,4 x 228,6 6 x 9 CDR PDF
US Letter 215,9 x 279,4 8,5 x 11 CDR PDF
Comic book 168,275 x 260,35 6,625 x 10,25 CDR PDF
Landscape 228,6 x 177,8 9 x 7 CDR PDF
Small square 190,5 x 190,5 7,5 x 7,5 CDR PDF
Large square 215,9 x 215,9 8,5 x 8,5 CDR PDF
Pocket size 107,95 x 174,498 4,25 x 6,87 CDR PDF
Royal 155,9 x 233,8 6,13 x 9,21 CDR PDF
Crown Quarto 189 x 245,8 7,44 x 9,68 CDR PDF
A4 210 x 297 8,268 x 11,693 CDR PDF
A5 148 x 210 5,827 x 8,268 CDR PDF
Small Hardcover 152,4 x 228,6 6 x 9 CDR PDF
Large Hardcover 209,5 x 273,1 8,25 x 10,75 CDR PDF

View all book sizes.

Bleed area

Add a bleed area. After all the pages of the book are printed, they are stacked together and trimmed.  The standard bleed size can vary from one printing company to the other, but generally is 3mm (0.125 inches). Read more about bleed.

Note. Seperate front and back book covers for wraparound covers in a perfect-bind book, don’t require bleed on the spine side of the cover.

When creating a cover for a Casewrap hardcover book, a larger bleed is required. This is the Turn-In bleed that is the edge of the paper that will be wrapped around the edge of the book’s hardcover and glued onto it. The Turn-In bleed can vary in size from one printer to the other but usually is:

  • 25mm (~ 1″)
  • 19mm (0,75″)
  • 6mm (0,25″) on top of the regular 3mm (0,125″) bleed.

Color space


In order for the colors on the final printed book cover to look as close as possible to the colors you chose on your PC display, you should work in 4 color CMYK mode.

Inner Pages

Depending on the type of book template you user, there are two color modes you can work in.

  • CMYK color space – Common in books that have the inner content (text, illustrations, photos) in color. Books that usually have color content are: Children’s books, Photo books, Travel guides, Brochures, Cookbooks etc.
  • Greyscale – Common in books that have the inner content (text, illustrations, photos) in black and white. Books that usually have black and white content are: Novels, Dictionaries, Comic books etc.

Image quality

Most templates for printing should have image placeholders, with high resolution (at least 300 DPI).


Usually the minimum margin size is approximately 13mm (0,5 inches). Thats the standard margin size for “octavo” size books (6″ x 9″) or smaller. Larger books ex. Letter size (8,5″ x 11″) may have 1 inch (~25mm) margins. In some cases the header and footer margin is larger than the side margin.

Most books also require a gutter. A gutter is a little bit of extra margin on the spine edge of the page, making the book easier to read without putting too much stress on the spine.

  • Perfect bound books usually require about 5-8mm (0,2-0,3″) of gutter.
  • For coil-bound books, the coils bite about 8mm (0,3125″) on the spine edge, but a gutter of 9mm (0,375″) is recommended.


The standard font size for the inner content of a book is 12-pt (point). Compact-width fonts, e.g. Times Roman, look best in 11 or 12 points. Wider fonts, e.g. Palatino, look best in a smaller font size, usually 10 or 11 points. “Large print” books are at least 14 points.

Note. Different sized fonts on different pages is not recommended and using the auto font resize option for the inner content text frames in your web-to-print book template is not a good idea.

Try to use unusual fonts only for texts on the cover or for chapter titles and avoid using them for the inner content of the book.


Most of the companies that offer POD services give their customers the option of submiting a one-piece (wraparound) cover or separate front and back covers.

One-piece cover

A one-piece cover is a single paper sheet that may come as a one-piece wraparound, DustJacket or casewrap cover and contains all the sections of the cover on one page:

  • Front cover,
  • Back cover,
  • Spine – Since the spine size is relative to the number of pages the book will have, you can use this spine width calculator.
  • Front flap and Back flap – is the part of the cover that folds inward arround the hard cover and contains copywriting  and or a photo and biography of the author. Mostly used in dust jacket hardcovers.

Separate front and back covers

With seperate front and back covers, your book design web-to-print template should have seperate pages for the front and back cover.

ISBN barcode

The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) barcode on the book cover is a unique machine-readable identification number which is assigned to any published book. It is usually placed on the back cover.

Add a optional image placeholder variable field on the back cover so that the user can upload it’s own ISBN barcode. Some publishers only ask for a blank white block on the back cover since they place the ISBN barcode themselves.

The most common ISBN barcode block sizes are:

  • Lulu: The safe size of the image placeholder is 46,558 mm wide x 25,4 mm high (1,833″ wide by 1″ high). In some cases Lulu may require a larger space of (3,625″ x 1,25″) since the area will be used for the ISBN barcode and additional publisher info.
  • BookSurge: 1,5” – 2” (38,1mm – 50,8mm) in width with proportional height. Or leave a blank white box 2” x 1,2” (50,8mm x 30,48mm) if you would like BookSurge to add a barcode to the book’s back cover.
  • Lighting Source: 1,75” wide by 1” high (44,45mm x 25,4mm).


The most commonly offered binding options are:

Perfect Binding – Perfect binding is a punchless binding method that works by fastening the book block to the spine cover. It is often used for soft cover books, ( paperback books). It is also called adhesive binding or unsewn binding.



Wire Stitching – Wire stitching is a form of binding that uses wire staples to bind sheets together. Wire stitching can either be used as side stitching, or saddle stitching. Side stitching is used for thin books that are usually covered with a hard cover, or a tape strip. Saddle stitching binds the sheets together through the fold in the center of several pages. Best for very thin books and is commonly used on comic books, kids books, magazines etc.


Dust Jacket Hardcoveris a binding method that features a hard external cover (called a “case” ) and a removable thin paper cover, called a Dust Jacket, which is wrapped arround the hardcover. The Dust Jacket also contains a front and back flap that folds inward arround the outer edges of the hard cover.



Casewrap Hardcoveris a binding method that features a hard external cover (called a “case” ) which is entirely wrapped with a printed paper sheet that is permanently glued in place.



Spiral binding – as it’s name suggests, is a punch-and-bind system that uses a plastic or metal spiral wire that is wound through punched holes on the binding edge. Techniques of this type are PlastiCoil and Wire-O Binding.

Advantages of POD

  • POD is cost effective since there’s no need to print and store large quantities.
  • Most of the companies that offer POD services allow the author to retain 100% of the rights to the boook.
  • The author choses the art for the cover and inner pages of the book.
  • The book can be available for an extended period of time, instead of it being “out of print” after one print run.

See also: