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Simplest Guide to Paper Stock, Grade and GSM Of Your Book

book paper

If you are planning on publishing your book and you want to publish your book in paperback or in hardcover then this blog is for you.

This blog will help you understand everything you need to know about paper quality and the different types of paper stock and most importantly GSM.

This blog will not only be interesting but also very important for new authors who have never published before.

You might be an excellent author and you might have the best manuscript in the world but you also need to pay attention to the quality of the paper as well. It will determine your publishing costs.

This is very important from the perspective of any author but even more so a self-published author as they are themselves the investor and publisher.

Before we go into the different types of paper stock, we need to understand why paper stock is important in the publishing industry.

This Is Why Paper Quality Is Important for Publishing

Paper quality is very important for publishing simply because the better quality of paper you utilise will directly affect the quality of experience of your readers.

This is because when a reader is purchasing your book, they are making an investment. The only way to make them feel that they had a good experience is to have a good quality book with a paper that feels nice and high quality.

The other reason is simply if they buy a good quality book then it is going to last them longer which means they will get a return on their investment.

But there is also a trade-off, which means the higher quality of paper you are going to use will directly affect your royalties and profits because a higher quality paper is going to cost more.

So, you are going to have to balance the need for having high-quality paper and also making sure you make a profit.

So, let us understand the different types of paper based on different classifications starting with GSM.

What Is GSM In Book Printing?

While we can talk in simple terms and tell you all the different types of papers but it is important to understand what they are called technically.

We use special terminology called GSM. It’s simply Grams Per Square Metre. GSM helps us grade paper into different quality based on paper density.

This is one of the simplest ways to grade paper and will help you understand how much material is there in the paper per metre square.

This is also one of the things readers notice because if they simply pick up a book and notice that the paper is not very thick then that is an automatic indication of bad quality.

That means they are accustomed to thinking that high-quality paper is high GSM.

That is why we need to understand the different types of GSM for paper stock as we find out the most common GSM measurements.

Most Common GSM Grades for Books


80 GSM Common Opaque

This is the most common type of paper and you are going to get this for everything from novels to timetables and books that are very affordable.

Most paperbacks are made from this category of paper and it is simply so that the price can stay low.  You do not need heavy ink for this kind of paper.

This is because both sides of this paper can handle print and stay legible.

This is a non-coated paper which means you do not get any extra textures that you might find with higher GSM premium papers.

80 GSM Bookwove Cream/White

This is one of the most common types of GSM utilised for creating novels and you have probably picked up this kind of novel.

Let us help you understand the feeling of picking up a novel with 80 GSM Bookwove. Do you remember ever picking up any novel (probably the cheaper novels sold beside streets and train stations) and being surprised by the fact that they do not weigh a lot?

Then it is Bookwove.

These novels might look big but they do not have any weight to them. That is exactly what Bookwove paper is. It can improve the volume without increasing the weight.

100 GSM Common Opaque

This is the second most popular category of paper used for book printing and this is the 100 GSM normal non-coated paper.

This means while you are not getting any glossy or matt finish with this paper but it is much more premium compared to 80 GSM paper.

This is utilised for books that have text as well as illustrations. This is because 80 GSM is simply too thin for illustrations and that is why the bare minimum used by the industry is 100 GSM when it comes to illustrations.

100 GSM Recycled

If you are someone who cares about the environment then this is the perfect paper for you because this is a fairly new addition to the different types of papers commonly used during printing.

The thing about recycled paper is that it is not just about the feel-good aspect of the paper being morally good but there is also a real purpose of that paper.

Since it is recycled paper and it is completely up to luck on what kind of blend you get, you are never going to have a uniform paper mixture which means every page of your novel is going to be unique.

Sometimes the pages might be cream colour and sometimes they might be white or yellowish-white etc. Since there is a custom feel to these papers, they will truly make your book feel premium and one of a kind.

115 GSM Matt/Gloss Coated

We are now entering the territory of premium papers and while this is not the best kind of paper out there but this is certainly something that can be considered better than the previous choices.

This is a kind of coated paper which means you can get a glossy finish and/or a matt finish. And you can print any kind of pictures and illustrations and expect great results.

This is the best kind of paper if you do not want the book to weigh a lot but you also want it to be high quality. This paper is just in the middle.

130 GSM Matt/Gloss Coated

We are now entering the coffee table book and comic book territory of paper because this is one of the finest paper stocks you can ask for and this is simply just too good to only print text.

However, this is still not the best kind of paper if you simply want a photo book and you can also print text on this paper and have it look very good.

However, if you are planning on printing a novel and if the novel has no illustrations or only a few illustrations then you simply do not need the whole novel to be 130 GSM.

Having said that it is completely up to you what you want to do with your book but it does not make business sense to use this level of quality for printing text.

However, if you are writing a non-fiction book that has illustrations then this can be a very good choice of paper.

This is also one of the most common types of papers to be used for children’s books.

150 GSM Matt/Gloss Coated

We have now seriously entered the territory of photo books because this is a kind of quality that you hardly need with novels.

If you decide to print your novel with this quality of paper then it will become unnecessarily expensive for your readers.

However, if you want to print your college yearbook or your autobiography or your family memoir full of images then this is a good quality of paper to do so.

150 GSM is also excellent as a poster book paper as you will be able to print high-quality images and illustrations.

However, if you only have a few illustrations in your book and you want them to look nice then you can use a few pages of 150 GSM only for the part with the illustrations and then use regular 80 or 100 GSM paper on the other areas for regular text.

170 GSM Matt/Gloss Coated

We finally come to the most premium quality of GSM used for book publishing. There are even higher grades of paper but this is the highest-grade paper commonly used for books.

This grade of paper is quite expensive if you compare it to all the other options because it is simply the best and ensures the best kind of durability for your book no matter if it is a photo book or a novel.

However, you are never going to find a novel with this kind of paper because this is practically photo paper and can be excellent for illustrations and photos.

We hope this blog will help you understand everything you need to know about the different grades of printing paper.

We also hope this will help you choose the perfect paper for your books the next time you decide to publish them.

And if you feel like you want a demo of the different kinds of GSM and paper stock used in publishing when it comes to a legacy publisher then we are here for you.

We are Orange Publishers and we are the fastest-growing and most popular legacy publishing company in India and we can provide you with a demo of the different types of paper stock we utilise for printing at our office.

We would love to publish your books for you and all our operations are in-house. We welcome you to visit our website to find out more.

Common Paper Stock FAQ


What GSM paper is best for books?

It all depends on how much you are willing to spend on your books because if you plan on publishing a novel and you want it to be affordable then you can very well utilise 80 GSM.

However, suggest you not to go below 100 GSM.

Similarly, if you want to print a coffee-table book with a lot of pictures and images and you need the prints to be high quality then you need to publish them in 150 GSM glossy coated paper.

It all depends on how you want to use the book and what kind of book you are publishing.

What type of paper is best for books?

Uncoated 100 GSM paper is very good for books and we are talking about a paper that is affordable and that also gives the book a good weight and feeling to touch.

However, this is a very subjective question because if you want the experience of your readers to be amazing then you should invest in more higher quality paper.

And if you want the experience of your readers to be amazing in the form of affordability then you can even get away with 80 GSM paper.

It all depends on your perspective of what kind of book you want for your readers.

Is 80 GSM paper good for books?

80GSM is more than perfect for books and the best part about it is that it is affordable and a majority of novels and books published in the world are done with 80 GSM paper.

It is just durable enough to be in a novel and it does not really need to be as durable as a school textbook where the student might need to read the page multiple times.

If handled with care then any 80 GSM book can last decades.

How do I choose a GSM paper?

GSM stands for Grams Per Metre Square and it is basically the density of the paper. If you need that paper for tissue manufacturing then anything below 50 GSM will be alright for you.

If you need to print newspapers then 30 to 50 GSM is usually the preferred choice. And if you want to publish books and magazines then 80 GSM to 100 GSM is usually used.

But then again if you want to publish something with a lot of images then we would recommend anything from 130 GSM to 170 GSM.

And finally, if you need business cards then 300 GSM is utilised most commonly. Now you need to decide what you want to use that paper for.