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Difference Between Hardcover and Paperback

Hardcover vs Paperback

Children Picture bookHardcover and paperback are two types of books and bookbinding processes.

A hardcover book is also called a hardback or hardbound. On the other hand, a paperback also goes by the names softback and soft cover. Paperbacks can be further classified as trade paperbacks and mass-market paperbacks.

Paperback book, as its name implies, has a soft card or a thick paper cover over the pages. This type of covering is less heavy but prone to folding, bending, and wrinkles with use and over time.

Hardcover books are characterized with a thick and rigid covering. This covering allows protection for the pages and makes the book durable and usable for a long time. Oftentimes, a hardcover book has a dust jacket (also called a slip-on jacket, book jacket, dust wrapper, or dust cover) that protects the books from dust and other wear and tear. Some books are even made durable by using leather or calfskin as a book covering. Another feature of a hardcover book is that it has a special covering on the book’s spine.

In terms of manufacturing and purchasing books, hardcover books are more expensive due to the materials and processes. Pages of hardcover books are acid-free paper. This type of paper allows preservation of the ink and is ideal for books in use and preserving them for a long time.

On the other hand, paperbacks use cheap paper, usually newsprint. The reason for this is to lower production costs and being readily made available for the masses. The paper in a hardcover book is usually stitched together before being glued, stapled, or sewn to the book’s spine. Due to the stitches, a hardcover book can have signatures, a place where the binding threads are visible.

Meanwhile, a paperback book’s pages are glued together and glued again to the spine. This makes the pages loose or separated while being in use.

Hardcover books are often applied to academic books, references books, commercial, and bestsellers that have enjoyed financial success. Other books in the hardcover version are books of collectible value. Publishers often release a hardcover version of the book to show investment so that they can project a high return of investment.

This is a large contrast regarding paperbacks. Paperback books are done for new or succeeding editions, reprinting of books or books with little profit margin. Publishers use the paperback editions to stretch the profit for the book.

The first release or first edition of a literary work is usually done as a hardcover book followed by paperback versions.

Hardcover books are made to last, and their structure and materials are to ensure protection and durability for the book. Paperbacks are meant to be less bulky and lighter, another contrast between paperbacks and hardcovers.


1.Hardcover books are characterized with thick and rigid covers made of cardboard while paperbacks, as their name implies, are books with soft, bendable covers. These types of covers are made with thick paper.
2.Hardcover books are made with high-grade materials like paper, ink, and other materials. In contrast, paperback books are made to a lesser degree of quality.
3.For instance, hardcover books use acid-free paper while paperback books use cheap paper, most likely, newsprint.
4.The hardcover book’s number of pages is higher due to its larger print. This is not true for the paperback because the book has small page sizes and smaller font sizes.
5.In terms of lifespan, paperback books can only last for a short time. Meanwhile, hardcover books are designed for very long-term use and storage.
6.Hardcover books are durable and not easily damaged. Another characteristic of a hardcover book is its rarity, bulkiness, and heaviness. Paperbacks are more readily available and portable because they are lighter and smaller.
7.Hardcover books are not cheap, especially the limited edition books. Paperbacks are cheaper due to their lower production costs.
8.Hardcover books have several additions; a slip-on jacket, fancy lettering on the spine, and additional pages in the book.
9.Paperbacks are usually held together by glue, but hardcover books are held together by three things; glue, stitches, and sometimes staples.
10.Hardcover books have a longer history. Paperbacks came only in the modern period.

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