The Most Popular Book Formats for Indie Publishers

Indie Book Formats Full WidthBetween books, ebooks and audiobooks there are so many different formatting options.

Indie Book Formats

Infographic – Book Formats

This infographic is designed to provide a quick overview of the most common formats. You may click here to open it full size in a new window or click here to see it in my Google Album.

Printed Books

A book’s format refers to the shape and dimensions of the physical book. Here are some of the more popular book sizes.

Printed books often have the following dimensions:

Trade Paperbacks
Often in the range of 5 ½ x 8 ½ to 6 x 9 inches. Most self-published books are in this category.

General Nonfiction
Nonfiction books tend to be 6 x 9 inches, sometimes a little larger.

Photography & Art
Size varies widely.

Manuals & Workbooks
Often in the range of 8 x 10 to 8 ½ x 11 inches.

Book Sizes


An ebook is a book in digital or electronic format. While many ebook formats have been introduced over the years, the clear leaders today are the Epub format, Mobi and KF8 formats used by Amazon & Kindle, and PDFs.


Portable Document Format was first created by Adobe Systems in 1993 as a standard format for document exchange. Still a very popular format that can be viewed on most platforms. Popular for non-fiction books.


A free and open standard for formatting ebooks used by most ebook stores except Amazon. Epub ebooks can be read on most ebook readers incl. Nook, Kobo Reader, Sony Reader, Apple iOS and Android devices.


This 3rd version of ePub format offers enhanced features: CSS features and multimedia display aspects; complex layouts; rich media; global typography; interactivity.


The Mobipocket ebook format is the format most authors use to upload books to KDP for Amazon. Uses XHTML and based on the Open Ebook standard.


Kindle Format 8 enables rich formatting and design such as children’s picture books, comics & graphic novels, technical & engineering books and cookbooks. Introduced by Amazon in 2011.

More on ebook formats.


An audiobook is a recording of a book being read aloud. Such recordings have been available in schools and libraries since the 1930s but the medium only began to attract book retailers in the 1980s. While it’s still possible to distribute audiobooks on traditional mediums such as records, cassette tapes, and CDs, these are quickly giving way to the popular and downloadable digital formats listed below.

The most important formats are the Audible AA format, since Audible is the biggest retailer of audiobooks, and MP3. Your readers, or ‘listeners’, can purchase audiobooks via several major retailers including Audible, iTunes, and Google Play Store.


Audible’s own format that can be played in iTunes, Windows Media Player 11, and their apps for various devices. With this format you can easily return to the last playback position, select chapters, and change narration speed.


Audible’s enhanced format that includes support for images and links. Good for children’s books.


A format which compresses a recording into a very small file format, designed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG)


Advanced Audio Coding is the default audio format for YouTube and iOS devices.


Windows Media Audio format designed by Microsoft.

More on audiobook formats.

That’s a brief overview of book formats.

As indie authors we should remember there is not really any ‘best format’ for books. What matters is getting to know your readers and how they like to read. As an independent publisher you owe it to your fans to make your book available in the formats that they want to use.

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Gary McLaren

Gary is an author and digital entrepreneur with 17 years of online business experience. He is passionate about writing and blogging, and enjoys sharing tips and strategies here for building an online business. He also the creator of The Article Writer's Toolkit.

2 Responses

  1. 14 Feb.2015

    Thanks for all the information on E-Pubs and Audio Books, and all the other various ways to publish books.
    Robert Briggs in Tennessee
    AKA Bobby The Sea Going Hillbilly

  2. Gary McLaren says:

    You’re welcome, Robert

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