Book or Booklet: What’s Best for Your Printing Project?

Salmaan Ahmad

Salmaan Ahmad

May 29, 2023

Most people may not be able to give a textbook definition of either a book or a booklet, but typically we know one when we see one and may even instinctually know when a book or a booklet feels like the right option. If you were to attend a professional theatrical production, the usher may hand you a show program detailing the actors and production information for the show.

You might be startled to receive the evening’s program in the form of a Perfect Bound book with dozens of pages held together with a traditional book spine. Because even if you had never attended this type of event before, you would probably be surprised to receive a book instead of a booklet-style program with a lightweight cover, a stapled binding, and just a handful of pages.

While a book might be a lovely idea, it makes sense that a smaller, lighter, and less expensive option would be used when the program itself is only utilized for a short period of time.

What’s the Difference?

Creating any kind of project that will be bound and printed ultimately will go through the same process once the manuscript and details arrive at the printer. But the majority of the book vs. booklet differences are all in how the creator formats and styles the project so that it will appear more closely aligned with either a book or a booklet.

Choosing between formatting a project as a book or as a booklet can sometimes be challenging because they may seem so similar. It’s important for creators to learn these book vs. booklet differences so that your project won’t end up as a surprise to the user, like a theatergoer who is handed a perfect bound book instead of a smaller booklet-style program.

Book vs. Booklet Differences

Five specific aspects set apart a book from a booklet. Understanding these differences can help you to choose the best format and style for you to print your next project.

1 Physical Size: While it’s true that books and booklets both can be printed in almost any custom size, the size of the publication is commonly associated with a particular size. Books are typically printed in a few sizes including 5 ½ x 8½ inches, 6 x 9 inches or 9 x 11 inches, but the standard size for a book is 8 ½ x 11 inches. The standard size for a booklet is 5 ½ x 8 ½ inches or 6 x 9 inches.

2 Binding: The way that a publication is bound together can be another excellent way to understand the book vs. booklet difference. Both books and booklets can be bound with any of the four types of bindings, but books are typically crafted with perfect binding while most booklets utilize saddle stitch binding.

Perfect Bound: This style of binding uses a strong adhesive to connect the pages of the book to the cover, and as a result, books that are perfect bound also have a sturdy spine that may be used to label the book with its title, the author, or other key publishing information. Books made with perfect binding look attractive on a shelf, so this type of binding is commonly used with fiction books, art books, and other retail publications.

Plastic Coil Binding: Books that need to lay flat may be bound using the plastic coil binding method of punching holes in the interior margin and running a singular plastic coil through to secure the pages together. This type of binding is ideal to use with projects that will be opened and closed frequently since the plastic coil is very sturdy and can withstand heavy use.

Saddle Stitch Binding: For projects between 8 and 80 pages, saddle stitch is a good choice for binding projects that can be bound using heavy-duty staples (“stitches”) to secure the pages.

Wire-O: Binding constructed in a similar fashion to plastic coil binding, this style utilizes a metal wire to bind the publication’s pages together. Wire-O bound projects also lay flat, and this type of binding has a professional appearance and is commonly used with projects that adults will handle.

3 Cover Material: When trying to decide whether to go with book vs. booklet printing, consider how sturdy you want or need the cover material of the publication to be. Books may have a hard or soft (paper) cover, but commonly book covers are made from sturdy, reinforced materials.

Softcover books may have a gloss or coating applied to the material to increase the longevity of the book. But booklets almost exclusively will utilize a soft coated or uncoated paper for the cover of the publication.

4 Purpose: A publication that will be kept for a long time or one that will be displayed on a shelf will most often be created as a book. Books that are produced with perfect binding provide a visible title and author name on the spine area, so projects with longevity usually are designed and printed as books.

The purpose of a booklet may be more temporary, although booklets may be sturdy enough to withstand years of use. The purpose of a booklet may be for something to be used right away or for single-use projects, so the lack of a spine from saddle stitch binding makes sense for these types of projects.


Crafting the perfect booklet to display your content is easier to do when you know the best size, style, and binding to utilize. One aspect that all booklets tend to have in common is their purpose as single-use or brief lifespan publication when considering the most obvious book vs. booklet differences.

But the materials used for a typical booklet are still relatively durable as well as relatively inexpensive, making them the perfect choice for creators that need to provide content to a large group of readers.

Popular Booklet Projects

Catalogs are probably the most common type of booklet since they can be produced with very lightweight paper that lowers shipping costs and shipping details can be printed on the back cover, reducing the need for envelopes or other containment materials.

Event Booklets is the perfect format for event programs, and when a gloss or other coating is added to the cover pages, event booklets can be developed as a keepsake for celebrations, productions, or any size event.

Magazines can be produced in the style of booklet utilizing saddle stitch binding as well as the other common type of magazines that utilize perfect binding. When created as a booklet, printing costs are reduced and shipping costs are also typically less due to the reduced material used to bind the magazine.

Marketing or Promotional Materials can be produced as booklets since they may be time-sensitive, targeted content.


For printing a more substantial project with a longer page count and one that would benefit from a sturdier cover, many authors choose to print their content in a book format.

Types of Books

In addition to novels, books can contain any kind of information to entertain, teach or encourage readers.

Art Books are a popular type of publication for authors who want to share their graphic designs, artistic endeavors, or love of established art of every style, shape, and era.

Cookbooks are fun books to create to preserve meaningful family recipes or even to sell as fundraisers or to commemorate special events.

Directories can be useful books for churches or other organizations with large memberships who need to stay in touch.

Photo Books are often created for special events, like weddings or anniversaries, but many professional photographers also create photo books to help them take their work commercially. Businesses and organizations might use a photo book to represent their company’s history, mark special events, or even as part of a marketing strategy.

Printing Basics

Your project can be beautifully printed as a book or a booklet once you have decided on a few key elements. Choose the overall size of the finished product that you need so that you can format your content based on the correct proportions.

Then choose the right binding style as well as the type of cover material or coatings that will make your book or booklet look great. Enlist the aid of a cover design expert so that your project’s cover will catch the attention of your reader and so that you won’t forget any critical content on the front or back covers.

Decide how many books or booklets you need and then partner with a trusted printer like Publishing Xpress to make sure that the printing process goes smoothly. Place your order and prepare to market, launch, or distribute your books or booklets when they arrive.

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