What is BULK Anyway?

Don 002-5x7_pp

There is one aspect of book publishing that continues to be the basis for everything else that occurs as a revenue stream for a publishing company.  You have to keep a tight control over the size to maximize the profit potential for a given title.  Bulk has a large part to play in this relationship.

Webster’s defines bulk as:  a spatial dimension, MAGNITUDE.  The bulk of the book is the width of the title as it sits on a shelf.  Why does this matter?  Because people want bigger bulks when they make a purchase.  They want to know that the hard-earned greenbacks they have given to the retailer have been spent for value.

How do we calculate the Bulk of a book?  Well Johnny, that is the question that I will answer next.

Every paper at a printer has what is referred to as a ppi=pages per inch.  This is the number of sheets that are necessary to measure exactly 1″ when stacked on top of each other.  If the ppi you are using happens to be 444 pages per inch, and your designed and composed pages equal 360 pages, than the equation would look like this:


Now, since you are looking for a measurement based on inches, you take .81 and multiply it by 16 (there are 16 sixteenths to an inch on a ruler) for 12.96 as an answer.  Since 12.96 is close to 13 by very small degrees of measure, you have 13 as your numerator, and 16 as your denominator, for a bulk of 13/16″.

I’ve always loved calculating the bulks of books.  When dealing with preprinted covers, this formula works extremely well, but when dealing with jackets, there are more issues to be concerned with such as backspace, turnarounds and flaps.  In time we will deal with all of these specific items in future blog posts.  For now, it’s time for me to put my bulk to bed.

Publishing like it Oughta Be!  (Homage to the ’86 Mets!)


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