A Tiny Book
About Paper

Publication Design

Tiny book in a pocket

The mandate:
To design a hardcover book that could fit in a pocket.

The assignment, given as a final project in a design course about paper, was to gather all the information presented during the lectures, and display it in a printed format of the student’s choice. The content covered the history of paper and how it is made; paper weights, formats and finishing techniques; as well as imposition, binding, paper folds and offset printing. The text was provided and organized, however there were no other restrictions than for it to be presented in print.

The target audience for this project are designers, particularly students and young professionals that are starting out in the field and could use such a reference. It was intended as a document that those people could bring with them to printers and suppliers, or that could accompany the creation of their projects. With that in mind, the concept that stood out was to create a true “pocket book”: a miniature hardcover book that could fit anywhere, be practically weightless and inconspicuous, a document that could be discreetly referred to anytime.

Tiny book standingTiny book in handTiny book leafed through

The process:
Make it small, but how small can you make it?

The purpose of this miniature book was not only effect, but also functionality. The challenge was to find the smallest possible format without losing practicality, and fitting enough information on a page without sacrificing legibility. Several formats, type sizes and layouts were experimented with to determine the optimal design direction.

The thickness of the book block also had to be considered in this case, as it had to be thick enough to allow perfect binding, but not too wide where it would overwhelm the spine and fall apart. The process also involved creating simple illustrations to decorate some of the pages, and retouch or recreate the visuals provided, so they would fit in with the design of the book.

Tiny book spread 1Tiny book spread 3Tiny book spread 2

The solution:
A 55 gram volume.

The result was a 90-sheet, 180-page book block that fit in the palm of even the smallest hands, with dimensions of 3” x  2 ¾” with the cover attached. With its half an inch of thickness, it weighs a total of 55 grams. Each individual page measures approximately  2 ¾” x 2 ¼”, with a simple layout featuring two columns per page. The typeface selected is Helvetica Neue, with 7.5 as a size for body copy. Given its size, the book is particularly susceptible to wear and tear: the hardcover helps mitigate the issue, as it is more protective than a soft case. It is easy to slide in and out of a pocket without the level of care required by a softcover.

One accent colour was used for the chapter dividers, page numbers, charts and graphs. The entire book is handmade, which includes the binding as well as the production of the cover, lined with gray linen book cloth. This was chosen as a fabric as it complements the turquoise accent colour while appearing classic and well made.

Woman sitting looking through tiny bookTiny book in back pocket

The benefits:
It will not weigh you down.

This miniature book becomes a welcome accessory for anyone working with paper. It is a light and compact publication that packs a surprising amount of information. It can reside in a purse, school bag or briefcase, and retrieved when needed. The design is simple and legible, and doesn’t appear constricted by its size. Contrarily to a cumbersome volume that would most likely be left at home and rarely consulted, it is printed information at it most portable.