Books are published in various formats to cater to different audiences and suit different reading preferences. The decision to publish a book in various formats is based on various factors like publishing cost, target audience, author’s market, and the book’s marketing plan. Publishing the same book in different formats can help the publisher to cover all the segments of the market and cover all audiences. When purchasing books on Amazon or similar platforms, we would have seen them classified as paperback or hardcover. These are the two types of books in the bookbinding process.
What Is A Paperback Book?
A paperback or softcover book is a printed book with a flexible cardboard cover and glue-bound binding. These books are further classified into mass-market paperback and trade paperback. A trade paperback is the highest quality paperback, and it almost follows the same pattern as the hardcover except for the binding part. When compared to trade paperbacks, mass-market paperbacks are of lower quality. Many pocketbooks are mass-market paperbacks chosen by travelers for “read-on-the-go” purposes.
What Is A Hardcover Book?
A printed book with a rigid, sturdy cover, with pages sewn to the spine, is called a hardcover or hardback book. Sometimes, the book’s first edition will be released in hardcover, followed by the paperback version, which will be released months later. This is mainly done for highly anticipated novels where the hardcore readers would buy the expensive version instead of waiting for the paperback. This, in turn, maximizes the book’s sales and ensures good profit.
Difference Between Paperback And Hardcover Books!
One significant difference between both that is easily visible is their price. Paperbacks are considerably less expensive than hardcovers, which are nearly twice as expensive as paperbacks. Hardcover books are generally considered a luxury because one can easily buy 2-3 paperbacks at the cost of a single hardcover book.
Other than pricing, there are a lot of differences between them. Also, both formats have their benefits and drawbacks; understanding them will help make the best purchase choice. Here is a list of the major differences between the hardcover and the paperback books:
1. Manufacturing: To begin with, the high cost of the hardcovers can be attributed to their high manufacturing costs. They are made with acid-free paper that keeps the ink of the text intact. The individual papers in the book are also sewn together, and the entire paper collection is either glued or sewn on the book’s spine.
Newsprint or low-grade, high-acid paper is used in paperbacks. These papers reduce the overall cost of the book’s production. Also, the individual papers are glued together to the book’s spine in turn. This is why paperbacks easily get torn when the book is folded or kept upside down when reading.
2. Size: Despite having many pages, paperbacks are often compact and lightweight. So they are easily portable, thus making them a travel-friendly read. They can also be held in their hands for long without strain. Hardcover books are larger and take up more space than paperbacks due to their height and width.
This makes them difficult to carry. Also, keeping them in hands for a long time may cause strain. Regarding the size of the text, pocket-sized paperbacks can sometimes have tiny letters with little or no space between the lines. On the other hand, hardcover books have sufficient line spacing with big letter sizes.
3. Durability: If not handled properly, paperback books can easily damage. Pages tend to stick together; corners are prone to bending, or, in the worst cases, the pages start coming out one by one. Also, given these drawbacks, preserving them for a long time is a daunting task. In contrast, hardcover books have a solid spine that prevents pages from being removed easily. They also have a jacket called the dust jacket or dust cover that protects the books from wear and tear. Some books also have leather jackets or covers, which makes it easy to preserve them.
4. Appeal: The creation of book covers is crucial to the publishing process. Hardcover books have elegant, painstakingly crafted covers with complex design elements like artwork. They also have foiled edges for decorative purposes and to protect them from dirt. They are the ideal choice for both book curators and gift-giving. Than the actual reading, these books are preferred for their aesthetic reasons.
Contrarily, paperback books feature simple covers that are less attractive than those of hardcover books. New and freshly printed books can have sharp edges that must be handled carefully. The edges and corners can also easily get stained, making them look less attractive as time passes.
5. Reading Preferences: For book collectors and curators, hardcovers can be the perfect choice. Hardcover books will be an excellent option for those who prefer to read at home at their own pace. They are not travel-friendly and can’t be read on the journeys to the workplace and vice versa. Paperbacks are very travel friendly.
Nowadays, pocket versions of paperbacks are also available that are very handy. Paperbacks are the best option for readers who prefer to divide their novels into smaller chunks to read throughout the week rather than all at once.
6. Comprehensiveness: Whether the book is nonfiction or fiction, the core plot is the same in the paperback and hardcover versions. But in terms of content, hardcover editions could include extras like a publisher’s introduction or foreword or the author’s signature with a message. Readers could benefit from some additional information, even though these are optional to understand the content.
7. Purpose: Apart from the preference of the readers, the purpose behind publishing a book plays a vital role in deciding its format. Books for children, like those with images, alphabets, and games, are published in hardcover due to frequent use and wear and tear. For their longevity, reference materials, holy scriptures, and important textbooks are also published in hardcover. Fiction novels and general reads are published in paperback format because they mostly fall under the read-and-sell or read-and-lend category.
8. Publishing: For first-time authors and authors who go with the self-publishing route, paperbacks can be their best choice. This is because paperbacks can be easily available by print on demand, and the printing cost would be much lesser when compared to hardcover books. Also, the authors can reduce the prices to the maximum extent during marketing campaigns without worrying about losing profits. Hardcovers are the perfect choice for authors who have built a brand for themselves. Hardcovers would work wonders in maximizing the profits for highly anticipated books and sequels of best-selling books.
9. Availability: Everywhere you go, you can readily find paperbacks. One can easily buy any paperback version from local bookstores and libraries to online platforms without hassle. Large hardcovers hold more prestigious value and fall on the higher end. Therefore, not all bookstores have them in stock. In some cases, very limited editions are available online, and one must either search thoroughly on all websites or wait for some time before buying one.
Despite the pros and cons, they are unique in their way. Whether you wish to purchase a hardcover or paperback book is entirely up to you. Some enjoy collecting hardcovers, while some enjoy carrying paperbacks around. Consider your likeability and budget while you are buying to ensure a smooth buying and reading experience. Happy buying and reading!
I am a freelance content writer and book reviewer who loves unleashing creativity, one pen stroke at a time. I like reading and writing about what I read. In an attempt to explore and introduce Tamil and Indian literature. Welcome to my world!