How To Print Hardcover Books

Create outstanding Hardcover Books with this comprehensive print guide.

What Is a Cover Spread, and How Do I Design One?

A cover spread is a set of pages that encase bound inner pages, like a Magazine or Booklet. For Hardcover Book printing, you can either:

  • Supply one PDF file with your back cover, spine, and front cover design and upload it to your Artwork tab as a cover spread to ensure your artwork is aligned. 
  • Or upload your spine file separately in addition to your front and back cover design. 

In your cover spread design, include the spine width plus an additional 5mm on both sides of the spine to allow for the hinge on the cover.

You can calculate the width without bleed using this formula:

Back Cover Width + 5mm Hinge + Spine Width + 5mm Hinge + Front Cover Width

Your book's height is the same for your cover spread. Then, add 20mm bleed on all four edges of the spread. Overall, the dimensions will be 40mm bigger in height and width.

Example: A4 book with a 9mm spine

210mm + 5mm + 9mm + 5mm + 210mm x 297mm (and add 20mm bleed on all edges - top, bottom, left and right)

Final Dimensions (without bleed): 439mm x 297mm

Final Dimensions (with 20mm bleed on all edges): 479mm x 337mm


How Does a Hardcover Overlap and Affect Alignment?

Hardcover Books are highly durable. The hardboard used to make the covers overlaps the inner pages slightly to protect them. This overlap includes an additional 3mm from the trim line, which you can include in the 20mm bleed for the front and back covers and spine. You can also prevent content from becoming hidden or obscured by positioning all text away from the edge by 8mm (3mm + 5mm quiet area).


What Is the Hinge Area?

The hinge area is a flexible bridge between the spine and the cover and joins the hard outer covers together. It’s visible on the exterior and is 5mm wide within the cover bleed area (right edge back cover and left edge front cover). You can exclude the hinge if you centralise your publication’s title on your front cover.


What Are Endpapers?

Endpapers join the bound inner pages (book block) and exterior covers (highlighted in green). They hide the outer cover’s bleed edges and backing material that holds the book block together. You can add classic black or white endpapers to your book prints, or some items include a selection of coloured endpapers.


What Is Bleed?

Bleed is an extension of an image or colour(s) that appears beyond your page’s finished trim size. Due to manufacturing variance, the bleed prevents unprinted edges from appearing on your final prints.

  • Front, Back, and Spine: These components require an additional 20mm bleed on the top, bottom and outer edge. The bleed allows your cover artwork to extend around the cover boards.
  • Inner Pages: Add a 3mm bleed on all four sides.
  • Cover (single files): Add 20mm on all 4 edges. We will only use 5mm bleed on the inner edge to cover the hinge area.

Paperback vs. Hardcover: What’s the Difference?

Paperback covers are made from light cardstock, and Hardcovers have thick, rigid covers. Hardcover Books have three main components: a printed wrap, backing boards, and endpapers. The printed wrap is then glued to the backing boards, making the covers around 3mm thick. Softcovers consist of a cardstock thicker than the paper used for the inner pages, and the covers are glued directly to the book block.


How Is Bleed Used and Wrapped on Hardcovers?

We print your cover artwork and wrap the additional 20mm bleed around the backing board to form a printed case. The bleed is tucked under the endpaper, hiding the excess to create crisp, neat edges. We aim to trim the 3mm bleed on the inner pages as accurately as possible on the outer edges to get your book to size.

Cover example after wrapping printed content around cover boards before endpapers and book block application

How Does the Central Binding Affect the Gutter Area?

The printed text pages are stacked together and compiled into a book block. Next, we glue the binding edge of the book block to a piece of lining material bound into the covers with strong adhesive. Thread-sewn Hardbacks offer a book greater flexibility while preventing spine damage. While you can position graphic content into the binding area, place all text at least 10 - 12 mm away to ensure it’s legible. 


Which File Types Does Mixam Accept for Hardcover Books?

You can upload different file types, but we don’t recommend using image files (JPEG, PNG, TIF, etc.) for Hardcover Book spines and cover files. However, if you only have these file formats or similar, our print experts can review them and suggest changes.


How Do I Design a Hardcover Book Dust Jacket?

Your spine width will be the same as your book. If your book width is under 200mm, create two flaps (folded panels) that measure 60mm. If your book width is 200mm or above, create two folded panels that measure 80mm. The height is always 6mm larger than the book’s inner pages (e.g., 210mm will require 216mm). Visit our Dust Jacket Support page for more information.

This formula will help you calculate your artwork’s width. Please include an additional 3mm bleed on all four edges.

Example: A5 Hardback Book

Width: 60mm (flap) +  148mm + 7mm (back cover) + Hardcover Spine Width + 148mm + 7mm (front cover) +  60mm (flap)

Height: 216mm 

Size and Orientation Width x Height Flap Width
A6 Portrait 105mm x 148mm 60mm
A6 Landscape 148mm x 105mm 60mm
A5 Portrait 148mm x 210mm 60mm
A5 Landscape 210mm x 148mm 80mm
A4 Portrait 210mm x 297mm 80mm
A4 Landscape 297mm x 210mm 80mm
Novel Portrait 127mm x 203mm 60mm
Novel Landscape 203mm x 127mm 80mm
Standard Portrait 132mm x 197mm 60mm
Standard Landscape 197mm x 132mm 60mm
Demy Portrait 138mm x 216mm 60mm
Demy Landscape 216mm x 138mm 80mm
US Royal Portrait 152mm x 229mm 60mm
US Royal Landscape 229mm x 152mm 80mm
Royal Portrait 156mm x 234mm 60mm
Royal Landscape 234mm x 156mm 80mm
210mm Square 210mm x 210mm 80mm

Dust Jacket Manufacturing Variance

Manufacturing variance issues can occur, so we advise you to create dust jacket and spine file designs without harsh lines or abrupt colour changes between panels. Your spine will slightly wrap around your front and back cover, so instead, use matching colours or apply a colour transition (gradient).

Our preview feature will place guidelines over your dust jacket’s folded parts to ensure your content is aligned. Please check your guidelines before confirming your order.

Preview of Dust Jacket with guidelines

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