A definitive guide to paper

In the publishing industry, paper is by far the single biggest component used in any print job – and we’re passionate about all things paper!

Using a printing service has many advantages. Knowing how much paper you will need for your print job, the quality of the paper, how the paper will behave, and the printers knowledge of frequently used stock will all be advantages of using a print service.  

In this blog we will explore a fun, but informative, guide to all things paper. This blog is particularly useful if you are using our BookWIZARD tool to gather quotes for printing your book and if you want to know more about the different paper options. There’s more to it than you may think! 

Types of paper material

Paper for your books and marketing material will come in two components, coated and uncoated, which is easier to picture if you think of the paperbacks as being uncoated and photobooks as coated.  

  • gloss improves images and has a vibrant finish 
  • matte is best for a soft glare-free read; and  
  • silk coated paper (non-gloss option) can improve readability making the graphic pop 

Opacity refers to the amount of light that can be transmitted through a given paper stock. High opacity lets little light through, while low opacity lets more light through. 

Paper Weights: a gsm paper guide

We don’t mean those jazzy fun, glass paperweights but the weight of the paper itself. You might be thinking ‘how do I measure thickness or weight of paper?’ Well, paper is measured in grams per square metre (gsm or g/m2). However, to get true bulking, the preferred method is to use pages per square inch (PPI).

Paperback books can start at 60gsm, but we start from 80gsm because it’s a better thickness for durability and readability. 

However, for a high-end photoquality paper, we recommend a 150gsm silk FSC grade paper, but we start from 115gsm.  

We recommend a 250gsm cover board for a traditional paperback book.  

Print jobs and the environment

We believe that digital book and journal printing is the future for environmentally conscious book manufacture. Digital book printing removes the need for lithographic plates and also reduces the use of chemicals and waste disposal. It can also reduce the number of unsold products in the supply chain, which reduces the amount of paper and energy used to fulfil the actual demand. 

Here is a brief background on ethical paper: EAG (British publishers’ Environmental Action Group) and PREPS (the Publishers’ Database for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing), involves 23 British publishers, who created a database of forest and pulp sources, as used by their members. There is also a paper grading system that classifies paper, according to being legally harvested or their recycled processes. Top graded paper, the 5-star papers, are certified by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), as being either pure, mixed or recycled. Knowing your paper source is important, because it will determine how your paper behaves during the printing process.  

What type of paper is suitable for my book?

  • Types of paper for art in traditional fine art media, 210gsm Hahnemuhle Albrecht Durer is used. 
  • Types of paper for colouring books 100gsm Bond is thick enough to cope with thick colouring – with pencil – without ripping. If you’re creating an adult colouring book, make sure you read our blog on the topic here.
  • Types of paper for a graphic novel: hardback books with a gloss lamination and internal paper that is thicker than 80gsm and has a coated finish, will work best for graphic novels. We hotly tip that 2019 will see a lot of new graphic novels – like the much anticipated addition to the Hernandez brothers’ comic book seriesLove & Rockets.  
  • Types of paper for a marketing flyer are usually a gloss finish that will grab attention. 

Types of paper for a magazine will usually be silk coated paper, think of a luxury brochure or Vogue. 

We hope you enjoyed the blog and have a renewed interest in the importance of the type of paper you use, remember that your project deserves absolute perfection. To order a free sample paper book please get in touch: 01733 237867