The Differences Between Paperback and Hardcover


One of the first decisions an author makes when publishing their work is whether they want their book to have a paperback or hardcover. While the two provide the same purpose – to protect the book’s contents from the elements – they couldn’t be more dissimilar.

So what is the difference between paperback and hardcover? Which should you choose? Keep on reading because we will answer these questions below.

Defining Paperback

Paperbacks are also called softcovers, softbacks or perfect bound. These printed books have pages glued together by a strong yet flexible adhesive with a cover made of thick paper or cardstock. Since they have thinner covers, paperback books are lighter and easier to hold. They also fit in bags for travelers who like to read in transit. They are also economical to print since the required materials cost less. All of this combined makes paperbacks easier to mass produce.

Defining Hardcover

Hardcovers, also referred to as hardbacks or casebounds, are books bound together with rigid protective covers usually made from a greyboard material, which is a thick cardboard case which is adhered to the book cloth or printed paper. Hardcover books are produced at higher prices than paperbacks because they are more challenging to produce. For this reason, publishers only release hardbacks for more successful writers and books that are expected to have successful releases. However, as a self-publishing author, you can print hardcover copies of your work immediately if you want.

Comparing Paperback and Hardcover Books

Knowing the difference between paperback and hardcover allows writers to choose the ideal option for their work. Here’s a detailed comparison of how the two types of covers differ in the following categories:


A pronounced difference between paperback and hardcover is their size. Both types come in standard sizes, but hardcover books have larger dimensions than paperbacks. Due to this, they are most likely to stand taller on shelves and take up more space. This makes them perfect for readers who like to collect beautifully printed books that they can neatly display in their library.

However, hardcover books are not a good choice for people with limited living space. Furthermore, because hardcovers are larger, they also weigh more. Therefore, they are challenging to carry around, which is a problem for readers who are always on the go.


Since hardcovers are made out of thicker materials, they are significantly more durable than paperback books. Also, hardcovers often come with a dust jacket, offering additional protection. Their durability is one of the main reasons readers buy them, even if they are more expensive. Hardcovers are built to last, making them an excellent investment.


Hardcover books are considerably more expensive to produce than paperbacks due to the materials required to make them. For this reason, they often cost two to three times more than their softcover counterparts. Therefore, they also retail for more once they hit the shelves.

Writers who are still starting and don’t have the resources to invest in hardcover printing can start with paperbacks. They are less costly and allow you to put your work out in the world without breaking the bank. It also encourages people to pick up your title since your book is not as expensive as the other options on the shelves.


When it comes to convenience, paperback books are the clear winners. Their lightness and flexibility make them easier to carry around. The durability can be enhanced with the application of film laminate on the cover. This will help protect the volume from normal wear and tear.


This category is more subjective than the others because it depends on what readers find appealing. For example, many book enthusiasts love hardcovers because they look beautiful on shelves. On the other hand, some readers find the worn covers of paperbacks pleasing because it speaks volumes about how the book was loved. Therefore, writers should consider the expectations of their audience before deciding between the two.

Choosing Your Book Cover

Now that you know what the difference between paperback and hardcover is, you can apply that knowledge in choosing the right cover for your book. However, self-published authors need to make additional considerations before making the final decision, and these are your audience and budget. Naturally, you’d want to give your readers what they expect, but don’t force yourself to spend outside your financial capacity.

Contact Best Book Printing Today

Best Book Printing is the nation’s leading commercial printing company that can help you select the right cover type for your work. Just reach out to our experts, and we will gladly walk you through your options so you can finally have your book printed and published. We offer hardcover and paperback covers, as well as a full range of binding styles to match your needs.

Get a quote today!