What Is the Difference Between Hardcover and Paperback?

Today, my reader, Rahman contacted me with a doubt:

Dear Lenin, would you explain why there are two types of books: hardcover and paperback?

This is quite a simple affair and there are explanatory articles to be found at various places on the Net. Here is my addition.


A hardcover aka hardback is a book bound with thick protective cover, with usually a paper or leather dust jacket over the main cover. The aim of hardcover is protection and durability. These books are mainly for long-term use and collectors’ editions. Hardcover books last far longer than the corresponding paperbacks. They do not get damaged easily thus making them perfect for reference guides, great literary works, etc.

In addition, there is a difference in the type of paper used to print hardcover books. The paper used is long-lasting acid-free type. Acid-free paper has a pH value of 7 (neutral) which makes it highly durable. The papers are stitched and glued to the spine.

Hardbacks are prepared for commercial works, best sellers, reference books, etc., which should be long lasting. If the market value of the book in question is high, publishers print out hardbacks first before paperbacks, since it is more profitable.


Paperback books are prepared for non-commercial works and those, which don’t get much exposure. The cover here are made of thinner paper or cardboard, with glue to stick to the leaves.

Since its cost of production is low, paperbacks are produced in mass, called mass market paperbacks. These are released after the hardcover edition is published. Usually the paperbacks are sold in mass and are meant for short term reads—that is, meant for people boarding airplanes, trains, etc.

Another type of paperback edition, known as trade paperback is created with more durable paper than mass market paperbacks.


The best selling writers always have their hard cover editions released first. It is an indication that their fans will collect the book. Most new writers will start off with a paperback.

Copyright © Laurel Shah 2008

9 Opinions:

  1. I wonder if these writers experience any sort of fatigue when writing these longs books.

  2. Do you feel fatigue when you watch a film/play football/do whatever that gives you great entertainment? For writers, writing is not work.

  3. Thank you for your explanation on the paperback and hard cover issue. It was very informative.

  4. Why do they have to look different though? It is very confusing if they look different and recently, Jade's Goody books Catch a falling star and Fighting to the end are not only looking different, but have different title but they are exactly the same books! I have bought two thinking they are different! What is your opinion?

  5. @Anonymous: That's unusual though. The Catching a flying star and Fighting to the end are different books, with separate HC and SC editions.

  6. thanks for that , I was like why do people make the comment , " I will wait for the paperback"

  7. superb dude...useful information!!!thanks..

  8. i prefer paperback because its cheaper, like half of the hardcover, and you carry them whereever you want to, I JUST HATE THAT THEY WAIT A LONG TIME FOR THE PAPERBACK VERSION !!!

  9. Yes, that's right. Thanks a lot for this comparison. This is what I am exactly looking for :)


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