If you equate the words "block" and "hinge" with construction materials and not books - you've come to the right place. Every day, somewhere, independent authors are pulling out their hair trying to make sure their book is properly formatted for print. Understanding the terminology used to describe each part of a book is the first step to nailing the formatting process and, ultimately, avoiding potential and expensive print issues. Let's get started.
There are two main parts of a book: the exterior and the interior.
The Exterior Anatomy of a Book
The Book Block
The interior of a book is called the book block, which includes all the pages. We'll get into the anatomy of the interior soon, but first, let's cover the basics... No? That one didn't land? Moving on.
The Front Cover
Whether it be a paperback, hardcover, or hardcover with a book jacket - the front cover of a book displays the title, subtitle (if relevant), author's name, and, sometimes, accolades like "New York Times Best Seller," or a quote of praise for the book.
The Back Cover
The back cover of a book contains the blurb - a short description of the book intended to inform or "hook" readers. With hardcover books with a jacket, the blurb will typically be on the front flap. The back cover of a book always includes the barcode.
The spine of a book cover is where the book block is bound. Typically the book's title, the author's name, and, often, the publisher's logo will appear on the spine.
The joints of a book cover are where the spine meets the front and back cover, allowing the book to be opened.
The Anatomy of a Book Jacket
The Book Jacket
Many hardcover books have what is called a book (or dust) jacket. The book jacket protects the book itself from damage and dust. Not all hardcover books have jackets, but the ones that do are made up of front and back flaps, front and back panels, front and back wraps, the spine, and the spine wraps.
The Front Panel
The front panel of a book displays the title, subtitle (if relevant), author's name, and, sometimes, accolades like "New York Times Best Seller," or praise for the book.
The Front Flap
The front flap of the book is wrapped around the inside of the front cover, and typically contains the "blub" of the book, and sometimes a photo and short biography of the author.
The Front and Back Wraps
The front and back wraps are what allow the flaps of the book jacket to fold around the front and back covers of the book.
The Jacket Spine
The jacket spine, much like the book's spine, typically contains the book's title, the author's name, and, often, the publisher's logo.
The Jacket Spine Wraps
The jacket spine wraps allow the jacket to fold around the book.
The Back Flap
The back flap of a book jacket will typically include the author's photo and biography. Often, publishing information will appear here as well.
The Back Panel
Since the blurb is typically on the front flap of a book with a dust jacket, the back panel can serve as a space for praise for the book, taglines, or whatever else the author wants to include! The back panel of the book will always include the barcode.
The Interior Anatomy of a Book
The spread of a book is the view of verso and recto pages of an open book.
The page of a book is, well, the page! This contains the contents of a book.
The verso page is the left page of the book.
The recto page is the right page of the book.
The Trimmed Edges
The trimmed edges of a book are the top, bottom, and outer edges of each page.
The margin is the space where the text, header, and footer fit on the page and will not be cut off in the printing process. This is known as the "safe zone."
The header is the space above the body or other text on a page. Sometimes the page number will appear here, sometimes the title, sometimes the chapter title. This is up to the author and/or book designers to decide - or, they may decide not to include a header at all as it is an optional formatting element. The only required element here is that page numbers need to appear in either the header or the footer.
The footer is the space above the body or other text on a page. Sometimes the page number will appear here, sometimes the title, sometimes the chapter or section title. This is up to the author and/or book designers to decide - or, they may decide not to include a footer at all as it is an optional formatting element. Footers may also include footnotes, often found in nonfiction books. The only required element here is that page numbers need to appear in either the header or the footer.
The hinge of a book is where the verso and recto pages meet in the middle.
The gutter of a book is no man's land - it's the space between the hinge and the margin where text cannot live.
There you have it! A crash course on the physical anatomy of a book. Keep an eye on the blog to catch the anatomy of the content of a book - coming soon!