Hardcover vs Paperback – Which Is Best?

BookSummaryClub Blog Hardcover vs Paperback – Which Is Best?

You’ve come across hardcover and paperback books at a bookstore and probably wondered why there are two types of book.

You have probably also have wondered what the difference is between the two. Well, besides the price. Hardcover copies of a book can be over double the price of the paperback alternative.
In this article, we’ll look at hardcover vs paperback books and see what the differences are, along with the pros and cons of both.
hardcover vs paperback books

What is a hardcover book?

A hardcover (or hardback) book comes with a heavy protective cover.
Hardcovers usually come with a dust-jacket over the main cover. These dust jackets are those paper-things that you always see on hardcovers, but they can also be leather too on more expensive books.
Publishers design a hardcover to protect the book for the long-term. They do not wear as quickly as paperback books and don’t get damaged as easily.
The printing is also superior with a hardcover book, and paper quality is usually far better too. The paper used in hardcover books are usually highly durable and made to last a long time, along with the cover.
That is why you’ll find that many collectors editions are hardcovers.
Along with collector editions, you’ll find that reference guides are hardcover too.
You’ll probably find, depending on the author, that they only publish new books in hardcover for initial release.
This strategy is to make sure that the first purchases are in hardcover as they’re more profitable for publishers.
Check out this article that compares paperbacks and hardcover books

What is a paperback book?

Paperback books have covers made from a thin paper or cardboard. There is a glue that sticks the pages together.

You’ll find that paperback books are far cheaper to produce than hardcovers.

Publishers usually print paperbacks in large numbers.

This mass-production version usually comes after the book’s hardcover release and the publisher will market it towards a wider audience.

Because of the cheaper production, paperbacks are lighter and a great choice for travelers.

A lot of new writers will also start with a paperback, as they don’t have the established audience to warrant a hardcover release.

Many print-on-demand services print in paperback too, making it incredibly popular for self-publishers.

book lot on metal basket

What is the difference between hardcover and paperback books?

Below are some key differences between hardcover and paperback books.

  • Hardcover books are far more expensive
  • Paperback books are lighter to carry
  • They print hardcover books to last
  • Hardcover has better print quality
  • Hardcover books are collector items
  • Paperbacks are better for traveling

Hardcover books: Pros and cons

Pros of hardcover

  • Nice to look at

  • Pages don’t get damaged as easily

  • More durable

  • Usually no need for a bookmark

  • Great for a gift or collectors

Cons of hardcover

  • Heavy… you can’t take more than one on a trip with you

  • Obviously more expensive. Sometimes double or triple the price

Paperback books: Pros and cons

Pros of paperback

  • Usually cheap to buy

  • Easier to carry and far more light

  • More likely to find the title you want

Cons of paperback books

  • The pages are easily broken or torn

  • Covers can get damaged

person holding Delight your Customer book

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the frequently asked questions in regards to comparing hardcover and paperback books.

Is paperback better than hardcover?

It really depends on what you’re after in a book.

If you just want a quick read or a cheaper alternative, then paperbacks are definitely better than hardcover books.

Paperbacks are also better if you’re traveling because hardcovers are more rigid and a lot heavier.

If you’re looking for a book to keep long-term though, then hardcover books are better.

Why are hardcover books so expensive?

Hardcover books are more expensive than paperback books because they’re significantly better quality.

The cover is a harder board that is made to protect the book for the long term. Likewise, the paper is of higher quality and the printing is better too.

Why do people buy hardcover books?

Due to the higher price, hardcover books are usually for collectors and major fans.

When you spend the extra money for the hardcover, you’re doing so knowing that the book will last long-term.

When a book by a popular author is first released, they’ll come out as a hardcover first to profit from the bigger fans and those giving the book as a gift.

Are hardcover books worth it?

If you want a book that will last the long-term, then a hardcover book is definitely worth the money.

However, if you just want to read the book and that’s it, you should look to buy the paperback, as it is better value for money.

What is the paperback edition of a book?

A paperback edition of a book is usually released after the initial hardcover release of a book.

The paperback release is to bank on a book’s growing market by offering it to a wider audience.

Paperback books are usually mass-distributed, so many people can purchase.

How long before a book comes out in paperback?

The waiting time between an initial hardcover release and a paperback release really depends on the book.

Publishers want to make the biggest profit possible from the hardcover before releasing the mass-published paperback.

Some books will release the paperback six months after initial release, whereas others will come out a full year after initial release.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, by now, you know more about the differences between hardcover vs paperback books.

The question of which is better between paperback and hardcover is more a question of why you’re buying a book.

If you want a book for a quick read or to read while traveling, then paperback is for you.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a book to last, collect, or give as a gift, then you’ll get more benefit from a hardcover.

Hey, I’m Erik… a Swedish university student, marketing professional, and life-long learner. Here at BookSummaryClub I summarize my favorite non-fiction books into easily digested posts. Hope you like what you’re reading!

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