Selecting a paper color or weight isn’t something most authors have ever thought about. If you’ve had experience designing books, then you know how paper affects the look and feel of your book, but most self-publishers haven’t given it much consideration.
If you’re curious about paper basics, read on:
Most mass media paperbacks (ie: airport reads) are printed on thin, cheap, newsprint-like paper. Trade paperbacks (ie: literary fiction) are usually printed on a slightly higher quality paper. It gives the book some heft. Sometimes, the ragged edge (deckle edge) is left in tact, giving an earthy, natural feel. And photography and art books are often printed on thicker or coated stock.
For the purposes of self-publishing, if you’ve written a straight-text book (no photos, images, or illustrations), then a standard 50# white or natural paper works best. It’s the best price, and provides an acceptable weight and smoothness. If you prefer a paper that’s slightly more sturdy, or if you have black-and-white images and want to prevent bleed through, then 60# would work. Note that cover stock will need to correspond to the thickness of paper used for the interior.
If your book is creative, loaded with artwork, or has color, you will likely want to consider a 70# or 80# stock. The paper is stiffer and can be coated with a gloss finish. Correspondingly, the cover would need to be thicker, too. Rule of thumb: the heavier the paper, the more expensive the project.
For those concerned, 100% recycled paper is very affordable and readily available in both 50# and 60# weights.
If your fascinated by paper, or are looking for something to do with your free time, check out Mohawk Paper Mill’s showroom in Cohoes. Call the mill for times and directions at 1-800-the-mill.
Check out this site for beautiful handmade paper for personal use: http://feltandwireshop.com/