Project Focus: Small Square Books

by | Sep 1, 2009

For a while clients seemed to be asking for a lot of small, square books. I had done several of these and noticed some similarities in their design.

Some types of book are square to accommodate both horizontal and vertical subject matter. A good example is art books of all kinds, paintings, photographs, etchings all benefit from having a square frame in which to work.

But these were all nonfiction books, each with its own rationale.

Recently I was having lunch with a friend in the publishing business, and she noticed the covers I had just come from scanning.

“Look at all these little square books,” I said.

“Yes,” my friend replied.

“They are all by women authors. Don’t you think that’s interesting?” I probably looked a bit smug by this point.

“I like little square books,” she said.

Well, maybe you like them too. Here are the three books I had with me that day. Each cover solves the square cover problem differently:

Dear Diary by Sandi Redenbach

Sandi Redenbach wanted a cover that looked like her book title, a diary. The touch we added with the silver foil stamped “lock” put the finishing touches on an effective design for her story of recovery and hope. Here’s the next one:


It’s clear that I was experimenting with Photoshop texture-mapped backgrounds, because here’s another one on Lori Gordon’s relationship book. Maybe the warm and fuzzy look will help some couples who buy it. Lastly,


I think this cover combines the textures of the first two with some elegant typography to really communicate the author’s love of her profession, and signal a book that can inspire others. It’s my favorite of the small square books by women authors.

Do you have a similar book you’d like to publish?

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Melissa Ripp

    My company is looking into publishing one of these small books — we are non-profit art gallery and are looking into a small, square art book. Where does one even go to see about self-publishing a book this size? I’ve been looking into it online, but all I seem to see are “normal” book sizes. Is there any chance the Book Designer could steer me in the right direction?


    Melissa Ripp
    Community Relations Coordinator
    The Hardy Gallery, Ephraim, WI

    • admin

      Thanks for your comment. Square books aren’t as popular as vertical ones, and the books you see here were all printed offset, where you have much more flexibility with trim sizes. Having said that, both and offer square formats. 7″ x 7″ at Blurb and either 7-1/2″ x 7-1/2″ or 8-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ at Lulu. From your signature I’m imagining you are thinking of something to do with “art.” Blurb is an excellent supplier of color books and can do a good job within the digital printing limitations, much more up their alley than Lulu which is primarily for text. However, the downside is that books from either company, and particularly heavily illustrated books from Blurb, will be very expensive on a unit cost basis. Why don’t you tell me more about your project, and I might be able to offer you much better guidance. All my contact info is on my Hire Me! page, or you can email me at jfbookman (at) Let me know how I can help!


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