The Blog of John Hewitt

Chapbook Publishing

What is a chapbook?

A chapbook is a book that created by folding standard 8 1/2 x 11 (The size varies outside of the United States) paper in half so that you create a shape close to that of a common paperback book. By doing this, a single sheet of paper yields four pages of a book. You then bind the multiple pages together by stapling along the crease of the sheets of paper. A mere eight sheets of paper can create a 32 page chapbook. Because of the limitations of the stapling and folding process, chapbooks tend to run about 32 pages and rarely more than 64 pages. In addition to standard sheets of paper, you may wish to create a cover using thicker (and perhaps glossy) cover-stock paper.

What are the advantages of a chapbook?

The primary advantage of a chapbook is that it can be created cheaply using a computer, a word processing or desktop publishing program, and a printer. This means that you can produce as many or as few books as you need. Poetry chapbooks are accepted in the poetry community and many poetry competitions accept chapbooks as entries.

What are the disadvantages of a chapbook?

The primary disadvantage of a chapbook is that most retail bookstores will not sell it. Because chapbooks do not have spine wide enough to print a title on, they cannot easily be found on the bookshelf. Also, if you wish to produce a chapbook yourself, that means you will have to write, edit, design, print, and bind the book yourself. Many people lack the skill or the motivation to do these things themselves. It is possible to have a professional print shop produce the chapbook for you, but that will add to the expense and you will have to order a set run of books. There are also online services such as Lulu who will publish one for you, but again, if your goal is cheap this may not get you what you want.

Once I create a chapbook, what can I do with it?

You can sell it through your web site. You can bring it to sell at poetry readings (even open mike nights). You can enter it in poetry contests and you can produce it so cheaply that you can even give it away if you want to.