Paperback vs Hardcover: Differences between paperback & hardcover

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You may have come across the terms paperback and hardcover while purchasing a book on Amazon or some other online portals. And if you have, then you may also have already noticed one major difference between hardcover and paperback books – Their Price!

While paperback books are comparatively cheaper, Hardcovers are sometimes even more than double the price of its paperback versions.

But wait… Is that the only difference between paperback and hardcover books?

Well, of course not. There are way more differences than just their pricing. If you have used both types of books, you may already know many differences from your experience. And if you haven’t, don’t worry, you will know them right now, right here!

What is paperback?

A paperback (also known as softback or softcover) is a type of book characterized by a thick paper or paperboard cover. Their pages are often held together with glue rather than stitches or staples.

These books are comparatively smaller in size, lighter in weight and even the price are quite low. However, these books are very vulnerable and can get damaged easily and so they require proper handling and care.

There is a cheaper version of the paperback books which is commonly known as mass-market paperback. You can click on the link to know more about it.

Here is a paperback version of the book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

The Da Vinci Code Paperback

What is hardcover?

A hardcover (also known as hardback or hard-bound) is a type of book that is bound with hard and rigid protective covers and the pages are often strongly held together with stitches and staples.

Their price is usually higher. These books are heavier and larger in size but are very durable.

Here is a hardcover version of the book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code Hardcover

Differences between hardcover and paperback books

Here are 8 differences between hardcover and paperback books that every reader should know.

1. Hardcover is more expensive than paperback

While comparing paperback vs hardcover, this difference seems obvious. In most cases, paperbacks are cheaper than hardcovers. I say ‘most cases’ because sometimes you may actually see a paperback version more expensive than hardcover.

It is possible under some situations like when the publisher of the book has printed way too many hardcover books and are not selling as expected, or when hardcover and paperback are printed by two different publishers and the cost for the hardcover publisher was somehow less than the paperback publisher, or even maybe when they are in different editions or in different languages. 

But this is very rare and we have hardcover books more expensive due to its high production cost.

2. Hardcover books have a better paper and print quality

Hardcover books have a comparatively high quality of paper. They mostly use acid-free papers which address the problem of preserving the paper from damaging. Furthermore, their pages are thicker and have a premium look. 

The font is also bigger in hardcover books which makes it easier for the eyes to read. On the other hand, paperback books are made of lesser quality paper like newsprint paper that is easily damaged.

3. Hardcover books have thick and rigid book covers

Hardcover books have a hard and thick protective cover and that is why they are termed as hardcover. 

Apart from that, they may also have a soft dust jacket. This dust jacket, as the name suggests, protects the book from dust and keeps the thick cover clean. But paperback books only have soft covers without any dust jacket.

4. Hardcover books are heavier than paperback

Since the hardcover books have thicker pages and covers, they tend to be heavy. On the other hand, the pages and covers of paperback books are mostly thinner and so these books are lighter. 

And for this reason, paperback books are easy to hold and comfortable to read while hardbacks can be uncomfortable to handle as it becomes difficult to hold it for a long time without straining your hands.

5. Books are first published in hardcovers followed by paperbacks

The first edition or the first release of a book is usually done in hardcover and then the paperbacks are published. So if you are a big fan of an author and can’t wait to read any of his books, then you will probably have to buy the book in hardcover even if it is too expensive for you! 

Once the hardcover version of the book is released, it can take even more than a year or two for the paperback version to get published. So, it’s totally up to you – whether you want to wait for that long, or just buy it at the higher price.

6. Paperback books are less durable as compared to hardcover books

One of the major advantages of hardcover books over paperback is its durability. Paperback books can easily get damaged if not handled properly. The corners of the book get bent, pages get warped and in many cases, they even come out, the spine of the book gets broken, or even the covers are torn. 

But with hardcovers, these vulnerabilities are highly minimized. Its hard protective cover and thick pages can even resist rough handling to great extent. So if it’s durability that you are looking for, you should definitely go for hardcover books!

7. Hardcover books have larger dimensions than paperback books

Another difference between hardcover and paperback books can be seen in their sizes. They come with different standard sizes. Hardcovers are generally larger and their sizes do not vary much with respect to other books. For this reason, they can be very neatly arranged together with other hardcover books in the bookshelves. 

But with paperback versions, the book-size is smaller and has more variations. You can refer to this article to know more about standard book sizes and see the size comparison of paperback vs hardcover.

8. Paperback books are more flexible and easy to carry

Well, if you are traveling somewhere and you want to carry some books with you, then it would not be very convenient to take hardcover books. Because of its bigger size, it occupies more space in your bag. Moreover, they are heavy and stiff. It becomes some extra load to carry them.

But paperback books are light and flexible. And they take much lesser space in the bags. So carrying paperback books become more convenient.

So, these were the 8 differences between hardcover and paperback books. If you have more differences to share from your experience, please do so in the comment section below. We would love to know them.

How to choose between paperback and hardcover books?

Now, after the comparison of paperback vs hardcover above, the differences might be clear, but still, sometimes it becomes very difficult to decide which one to choose.

Here are a few questions that you should consider while choosing between a paperback and a hardcover book:

1. How much is your budget?

As we have already discussed above, hardcover books are usually very expensive. So, if you are tight on budget, it makes sense that you should rather opt for paperback than hardcover version of the book.

2. How eager are you to read the book?

This consideration is really very important and sometimes complicated too. If you want to read a book as soon as it is first published, you will have no option but to buy a hardcover version because books are first published in hardcover.

So, can you wait for more than a year for the paperback version to arrive? Or just go and get the hardcover even if it is too expensive for you? Well, you are the one to decide. 😉

3. Where do you plan to read it?

If you are planning to read the book while you are traveling, choosing paperback would be better. The hardcovers are heavier and larger in size and are therefore not convenient to carry.

Similarly, if you want to read the book lying on a bed, you should get a paperback copy as it is more comfortable to hold.

4. Would you re-read the book in future?

If you want to read the book again in future or if it is a book that you will be referring to pretty often, then you should go for a hardcover copy as it is more durable and will not be damaged easily.

But if you want to read this just for once and then forget about it, then hardcover is probably not a good idea. Go for the paperback version.

5. How much importance does design of a book hold for you?

For many people, the design of the book is a huge deciding factor. They want a book with good design and beautiful cover page. This also includes how the book would look in your bookshelf.

If you are one among them, then hardcover is better as they have beautiful covers, pages, and looks great on shelves!

6. Is it a gift for someone?

If you are buying the book as a gift for someone, you should probably get a hardcover. It looks better and the receiver will really appreciate that you got a nicer version of the book. 😉

So, these are a few points that you may consider while choosing between a paperback and hardcover. If you are still confused, I would say that you should go with the one that is most comfortable for you. At the end of the day, what matters is you got to read what you wanted to read!

Happy Reading!

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