Navigating the Sea of Paper: A Self Published Author’s Guide to Choosing the Right Paper

So, you’ve poured your heart and soul into writing and illustrating your book, and now it’s time to choose the perfect paper to bring it to life. But where do you even begin? Fear not, brave author! This guide will equip you with the knowledge to navigate the vast and sometimes confusing world of paper types, finishes, and weights.

Common Paper Types:

  1. Art Paper: This coated paper offers exceptional smoothness and vibrant color reproduction, making it ideal for showcasing illustrations. Popular in picture books and art books. Examples: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “The Art of Van Gogh.”
  2. Offset Paper: Uncoated and more affordable than art paper, it offers a softer, more natural feel. Commonly used in novels and some picture books. Examples: “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Corduroy.”

Paper Finishes:

  1. Glossy Lamination: Adds a shiny, protective layer that enhances colors. Popular for board books and some picture books.
  2. Matte Lamination: Offers a softer, non-reflective finish. Less prone to fingerprints than gloss. Common in softcover picture books and art books.
  3. No Lamination: Provides a natural, uncoated feel. May be susceptible to wear and tear. Often seen in novels and some art books.

Paper Weights:

Paper weight is measured in two ways:

  1. Pounds (lbs): Refers to the weight of 500 sheets of uncut paper.
  2. Grams per Square Meter (GSM): Measures the weight of a single sheet of paper.

Here are some common paper weights for different book types:

  • Board Books: Typically use thick cardstock, ranging from 120 lbs to 180 lbs (250 GSM to 350 GSM).
  • Hardcover Picture Books: Often use coated art paper between 80 lbs and 100 lbs (150 GSM to 190 GSM).
  • Softcover Picture Books: May use slightly lighter coated art paper, around 70 lbs to 80 lbs (130 GSM to 150 GSM).
  • Novels: Typically use offset paper between 50 lbs and 60 lbs (80 GSM to 90 GSM).
  • Art Books: Often use heavyweight coated art paper, ranging from 100 lbs to 120 lbs (190 GSM to 230 GSM) or higher.

Checklist for Choosing the Right Paper:

Consider these factors when selecting your paper:

  • Book Type: Different formats have different needs. Board books require sturdy cardstock, while novels prioritize affordability and readability.
  • Artwork: If your book features illustrations, art paper will showcase them beautifully.
  • Budget: Heavier paper and special finishes can increase costs.
  • Desired Feel: Do you want a smooth, glossy finish or a softer, more natural feel?

Not sure about paper type or weight? Reach out to our print team at (720) 722-6102. We can answer your questions and even send you a book of paper samples to help you make the perfect choice for your self-published masterpiece.