Bookstore-grade qualityTrade books allow full customization from cover to spine to paper type. Our papers have a terrific hand-feel and feature rich black ink and deep, bold colors.
Easy worldwide distributionTrade books make it easy to print, distribute, and ship your work wherever you want to sell it, including the Blurb Bookstore, Ingram (includes Amazon), and 39,000+ indie bookstores.
sellersTrade books are an extremely affordable option for printing, so you can competitively price your creations and still make good earnings. Plus, our trade books come with a free ISBN.
5x8 in (13x20 cm)We like it for: novels or novellas, fiction, paperbacks, travel journals, how-to books
6x9 in (15x23 cm)We like it for: fiction, non-fiction, short stories, textbooks, behind-the-scenes books
8x10 (20x25 cm)We like it for: children’s books, biographies, yearbooks, cookbooks, portfolios, manuals
Trade books can be as few as 24 pages to as many as 440 pages with these three paper types.
Economy Black and WhiteWhite or cream uncoated, 50#
Why we like it: Works well for books of mostly text and line art.
Economy ColorWhite uncoated, 70#
Why we like it: Great price, lower fidelity black and color, but great for print and line art.
Standard ColorWhite uncoated, 70#
Why we like it: Shows rich black and deep color, perfect for images and illustrations.
SoftcoverPrint on the front cover, back cover, and spine
No cover flaps
ImageWrap HardcoverPrint an image on front and back cover plus spine
Durable matte finish
No cover flaps
Dust Jacket HardcoverGlossy dust jacket
Slate-gray linen hardcover
Ready to make your trade book?
BookWrightDesign trade books with our free software featuring customizable templates, layout ideas, and image retouching tools.
Adobe InDesign Plug-inCreate unique, print-ready books, magazines, or wall art as part of your InDesign workflow.
Blurb PDF UploaderHave a PDF ready to publish? Just upload it and get your trade book printed quickly and easily.
Adobe Lightroom Book ModuleAlready editing photos in Lightroom? Turn your digital galleries into beautifully printed photo books.
Trade Book Success Stories
AG23By Dan Milnor and Rick Elder
This offset printed 6x9, softcover zine promotes understanding through dialogue and art. They chose trade for its exceptional reproduction of illustrated content and portable trim size.
MixedBy Cameron Mouton
'Creative freedom,' is the reason this Los Angeles-based Afro-Latina writer and editor chose an affordable trade book for her debut.
HOME AND GARDEN
houseplantBy Hannah Stetter
Leafy, flowery, and prickly plants get their moment in the sun with stunning, colorful spreads fit for a high-quality photography book, but priced to sell.
Create, Sell, and Distribute
Sell any formatChoose the best format for your self-published book to strike a balance between your creative vision and a price that works for your audience.
Print as you goReduce your self-publishing risk! Order a single book to proof. Since you can digitally print trade books for each sale, you’ll eliminate upfront expenses.
Distribution optionsCreate a self-published book you can sell and distribute at scale through the Blurb Bookstore, on Ingram (includes Amazon), and in more than 39,000 stores worldwide.
Large order servicesEnjoy custom discounts, bespoke print solutions, and expert support from our in-house team for orders of 100 or more books.
Trade Book FAQs
What is a trade book?
As the largest category in book publishing, a trade book is intended for general readership and typically sold through bookstores and other traditional retail channels. Trade books are available in various genres, including fiction and nonfiction novels, memoirs, and lower-price-per-copy photo books. They're what most people envision when they think of books and publishing in the general sense.
Trade books are common formats for self-publishers who use platforms like Blurb as well as publishing houses that specialize in producing books for the general public. They're often printed in a standard size and format and priced affordably for sellers. Blurb offers 5x8 in (13x20 cm), 6x9 in (15x23 cm) and 8x10 in (20x25 cm) trade book sizes.
Why are they called trade books?
The definition of "trade book" originates from the practice known as "trade publishing," which refers to the business of publishing books intended for the general public. Trade publishers are for-profit publishing houses that aim to produce books that will sell in the marketplace and generate profits for the publisher, author, and other stakeholders.
Not to be confused with skilled trades or stock trading, the term "trade" in this context refers to the commercial activity associated with buying and selling books as a commodity in the marketplace. Trade books are intended to be published and marketed to the general public instead of specialized audiences like academics or professionals. In turn, trade books reflect a much wider audience and genres ranging from children's books to self-help books.
What are trade books used for?
Trade books are a popular format used for a wide variety of purposes, including reading enjoyment and enrichment, personal growth, research and documentation, and subject matter teaching. In an educational context, trade books lend to various topics for student consumption and offer teachers autonomy in choosing relevant materials for instruction.
In the general marketplace, trade books are an affordable alternative to photo books and portfolios for creating collections of photos, art, and stories. They're primarily genre-agnostic and are often used for leisure reading or to learn about a new subject or topic. Overall, trade books serve a vast array of purposes and are enjoyed by readers of all ages and interests.
What are examples of trade books?
There are countless examples of trade books, as they encompass a broad range of book genres and subjects. Here are a few popular examples of trade books across core categories:
- Fiction: F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," "Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," and J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye."
- Nonfiction: Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air," Charles Duhigg's "The Power of Habit," Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," and Yuval Noah Harari's "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind."
- Memoirs: Tara Westover's "Educated," Trevor Noah's "Born a Crime," and Michelle Obama's "Becoming."
- Self-help: Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People," and James Clear's "Atomic Habits."
- Children's Books: E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web," and Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree."
These are just a collection of classic trade book examples by popular genres. The world of trade books spans a much broader scope of topics and genres, and new titles are constantly being released.
What are the types of trade books?
Trade books can be classified in several ways. The most common way to organize the various types of trade books is by genre, which can include: novels, memoirs and autobiographies, self-help and personal development, children's literature, travel and guidebooks, and art and photography. However, in a publishing context, the classification of trade book types can be viewed a bit differently.
In addition to the genre, trade books can be classified based on their book cover type: softcover, hardcover imagewrap, and hardcover dust jacket. Trade paperbacks, or paperbacks, usually measure around 5x8 inches and are more affordable and portable compared to hardcovers. Hardcover trade books are hardbound, with perfect-bound spine and removable dust jackets. Hardcover trade books are preferred for being more durable; however, standard paperbacks generally cost less to produce.
What’s a proof copy?
Pick the right paper type for your trade book
Choose the best book design tool
How to sell your trade book on Amazon and more
5 reasons to make a trade book
10 tips to make a gorgeous trade book
How to self-publish a book
Blurb bestselling authors on self-publishing success in 2023
Ultimate guide: book pricing for self-published creators
How to sell your self-published book on Amazon
More about trade books
Trade books are one of the largest book categories encompassing a wide spectrum of genres and categories. They offer high quality at a lower price point, making them attractive to creative professionals and self-publishers looking to sell at scale with or without worldwide distribution.
Trade books can literally be about anything. They can be text based (like a workbook or novel), visually driven (like a portfolio or travel album), or both (like a children’s book or cookbook).
Popular trade book genres worth exploring
- Novels: Trade books often include fiction novels, which can be further categorized into different genres such as romance, mystery, science fiction, and more.
- Cookbooks: Cookbooks are another popular genre for trade books, providing recipes, food photos, and cooking tips for readers.
- Biographies and memoirs: Trade books also frequently include biographies and memoirs, which tell the stories of real people.
- Self-help and personal development: Such trade writing topics offer advice and guidance on subjects like relationships, career, and mental health.
- History and current events: Books like these cover historical or current events, providing readers with a deeper understanding of the world around them.
- Children's books: Trade books can also include children's books, often illustrated and targeted toward specific age groups.
- Business and finance: Trade writing can focus on business and finance, providing readers with insights on entrepreneurship, investing, and more.
- Science and nature: Exploring topics such as biology, astronomy, and environmentalism are unique trade writing topics.
Overall, trade books can cover many topics and genres, making them an accessible format for both broad and targeted audiences.
Why self-publish a trade book with Blurb?
When self-publishing a trade book, authors are empowered by various features to create and distribute their work.
- Customizable design: Blurb provides a user-friendly platform with customizable design options, allowing self-publishers to personalize their trade book's layout, cover design>, and overall appearance to reflect their artistic vision.
- Affordable pricing: Blurb offers competitive pricing for self-publishers, ensuring authors can produce their trade books without breaking the bank. This affordability enables writers to focus on content and reach a wider audience.
- Free tools and templates: Blurb provides an array of free tools and templates to assist authors in the book creation process. These resources simplify the design and layout stages, helping authors save time and effort.
- Print-on-demand (POD): Blurb's print-on-demand service eliminates the need for upfront printing costs and inventory management. Authors can have their trade books printed and shipped to customers as orders come in, reducing financial risks.
- Large order services: Blurb offers large order services for authors seeking to print larger quantities of their trade book. This option caters to bulk printing needs for events, signings, or promotional purposes.
- Pricing control: Authors have control over pricing their trade book. This flexibility empowers writers to strategize their marketing and pricing strategies to maximize profitability and reach their target audience.
- Worldwide distribution: With Blurb's global distribution services, self-publishers can make their trade book available to readers worldwide. This extensive distribution network enhances exposure and increases the potential for book sales.
Unlike traditional publishers that typically require a book proposal and a compelling pitch, self-publishing allows authors to take full ownership of their trade book. This includes the design, pricing, distribution, and marketing strategy. And where publishing houses invest in large print runs and heavy inventory, print-on-demand provides a cost-effective alternative that minimizes overhead costs and the pressure to sell your trade book.
Trade book design considerations
There are a lot of decisions that go into self-publishing a trade book. While the genre and content come naturally, the design and formatting leave a lot to consider. Blurb offers several options for sizes, paper types, and cover options. For trade books, these design considerations can be narrowed down into the following options:
- Book sizes: 5x8 inches (13x20 cm), 6x9 inches (15x23 cm), and 8x10 inches (20x25 cm).
- Paper types: Economy Black and White: White uncoated, 50# (75 GSM) or Cream uncoated, 50# (80 GSM); Economy Color: White uncoated, 70# (105 GSM); Standard Color: White uncoated, 70# (105 GSM)
- Cover options: Softcover (glossy), Hardcover with dust jacket (matte), and Hardcover ImageWrap (matte).
While these factors shape the reader experience, they also shape the final printing costs. Carefully consider the size, paper type, and book cover that makes the most sense for your trade book, content, budget, and pricing strategy.
Assemble your trade book using your preferred software
Blurb offers several software options for trade book authors. BookWright, Blurb's free and easy-to-use software platform, allows authors to design and publish trade books easily with little bookmaking experience. BookWright offers features such as reflowable text containers, unique and free ISBNs for every version of the book, and the ability to import existing Blurb book files.
Blurb also offers plugins for Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Lightroom, allowing authors to create and publish trade books directly from these programs. If you have a PDF of your trade book's content, you can also use Blurb's PDF Uploader tool to prepare your trade book for publishing.
Earn more with trade books
Trade books are priced for sellers, meaning they are designed to be sold and generate income for the author. By writing a trade book, authors can earn royalties from book sales. Of course, this depends on several variables. But compared to other niche book formats, trade books offer the greatest profit potential and ability to scale. Knowing how to price your trade book involves considering your book’s genre, length, and quality, as well as your target audience. And don’t forget to consider book promotions and seasonal sales as a way to increase your book’s visibility and boost your bottom line.
Even when self-published with platforms like Blurb, trade books are typically produced with high-quality materials and printing standards, making them comparable to books found in bookstores. Authors can customize the design and layout of their books to create a visually appealing and professional product. This further supports the marketability and sales potential of trade books.