Choosing the Right Type of Paper Stock and gsm for your Book

With all the different types of paper available, choosing the right paper stock for your book can get confusing quickly. We stock a variety of papers and we have access to an extensive range of papers from companies like GF Smith if you want something special and unique for your book.

From uncoated papers to coated papers, paper gsm and everything in-between, follow this guide to choose the best paper stock for your book and understand the meaning of gsm.


What does gsm mean?

Before we dive into the types of paper, we need to understand the meaning of gsm. If you have ever ordered any paper, card, business cards, leaflets flyers or any other advertising material you have probably come across the term gsm. This term can help you specify exactly what you want when ordering any of the above.

GSM stands for 'grams per square meter'. It allows you to order exactly what you need for your printing project accurately and consistently each time. The higher the gsm, the heavier the paper.

Having lighter weight gsm paper will have its specific use where the heavier weight paper will not be necessary. Take flyers, for example, you can be offered a range of paper types to choose from but not knowing the gsm of the paper will make your decision useless.


Different gsm for books

The same can be said for books, you may want to print a photo book on a nice coated matt paper. Without knowing the gsm of the paper that you want the book printed on, you may have difficulties with the show through, spine measurement, the feel of the book and the finished weight.

To give you some reference, a bible is usually printed on paper between 35 and 50 gsm, a mass market paperback is printed on paper between 70 and 80 gsm, non-fiction books are printed on most papers but are commonly printed on paper between 80 and 100 gsm. If you are thinking of printing a photo book or a book with many illustrations like a children's book then the weight of the paper might be between 130 and 170gsm.

Uncoated Types of Paper

Wide range of use for almost all genres

80 gsm Opaque

This is our most common paper type. It is a plain white, smooth paper, similar to what you would print documents at home on. There is a slight show through but not noticeable unless you have heavy printing to one side.

Good for:

  • Non-fiction and poetry books
  • Keeping the price of your book low
  • Keeping the weight of your book low


100 gsm Opaque

This is the same type of paper as our 80gsm opaque paper but at 100gsm. This will give your book a more premium feel and will have less show through than the 80gsm paper.

Good for:

  • Non-fiction and poetry books
  • Giving your book a premium feel
  • Any books with illustrations, images or any colour artwork


80 gsm Bookwove White

Our bookwove papers are what you would find in most novels. They are not as smooth as the opaque paper types we have and help to 'bulk' your book up. The bookwove white paper is actually an off-white paper and will look cream when held next to a pure white opaque paper. Bookwove paper is also available in heavier weights but please contact us if you want to find out more.

Good for:

  • All fiction books
  • Black and white printing
  • 'Bulking' up the thickness of your book


80 gsm Bookwove Cream

Our bookwove cream paper type is identical to our bookwove white paper apart from the colour. The bookwove cream paper is still suitable for all types of books but it is most commonly used for novels. Any colour printing on the cream paper will not reproduce very well.

Good for:


100 gsm Recycled

This paper type is similar to our 100gsm opaque paper but it is not quite as smooth and being recycled paper it is not as white. The recycled paper type is great for making your book feel more premium like the opaque paper type but also with the added impact of being fully recycled.

Good for:

  • All fiction and non-fiction
  • Giving your book a premium feel
  • Eco-conscious

Coated Types of Paper

Mainly used for books with lots of illustrations or photographs

115gsm Coated - matt / gloss

This is our lightest gsm coated paper which is fantastic for books that have any type of illustrations or photographs. We use this paper type for our mono and colour inserts as plate sections within your book. Because this paper type is a low gsm, it works well if you want a coated paper and your book has a lot of pages, 100+.

Good for:

  • All non-fiction genres
  • Keeping the weight of the book low
  • A premium book at a lower cost


130gsm Coated - matt / gloss

As the paper types get heavier the page count of the books is usually less to keep the weight of the book down. This particular gsm of paper is a good middle ground between a non-fiction book with a lot of pages and a regular photo book. If your book is over 100 pages and you want a coated paper, it may be best to opt for the 115 gsm as your finished book can start getting heavy.

Good for:

  • Most non-fiction genres
  • Any book with colour or mono illustrations or photographs
  • Children's books


150gsm Coated - matt / gloss

This gsm of paper is a great paper type for photo books or books with a high amount of colour and mono images with under 100 pages. This is a premium paper that will give your book a fantastic feel.

Good for:

  • Non-fiction books with lots of illustrations or photographs
  • Photobooks
  • A Premium book


170gsm Coated - matt / gloss

This is our most premium paper type for the internals of your book. It is a fantastic paper reserved for those special photo books or any book that you want to last. As the paper is a high gsm it is a lot tougher than the previous paper types.

Good for:

  • Photobooks
  • Any premium book
  • Children's books that need a strong paper

Book Cover Paper stock

Choosing the best paper type and best paper gsm for your books cover

For the majority of our paperback book covers, we use a 240gsm coated paper which is laminated after printing. The 240gsm is typical for most books and after the lamination is applied to the paper stock, it feels a lot heavier and thicker. For our dustjackets and printed paper cases used for hardback books, we use a 115gsm coated paper which is then laminated.

We offer three different lamination types for our books; gloss, matt and soft-touch matt. All three laminations are of the highest quality and the type you choose is mainly down to personal preference. If you want the soft-touch lamination type, please contact us.


Custom Book Cover Paper Types

We can print on different paper types for book covers if you are wanting something a special and a bit unique. For example; we have printed on uncoated textured papers and even incorporate special finishes for our hardback book covers.

If you are wanting a book cover that is not on our online price calculator or is not part of the paper types we offer on this page then do please contact us with your specific requirements and we will do our best to accommodate them.

We can send you our paper samples booklet. It is bound up as a perfect-bound book with all of the papers we stock with various printing options.