Sep 19, 2023 • 4 min read

The Benefits and Differences of Hardcovers and Paperbacks You Need To Know

Here’s how to choose between Hardcovers and Paperbacks (spoiler, there's no right answer)!

The Benefits and Differences of Hardcovers and Paperbacks You Need To Know

Paperback Books and Hardcover Books are among today’s most popular and recognizable book formats. Their most distinguishable feature is their outer covers, each adding aesthetic and commercial value. 

Still, factors like cost, target audience, book genre and long-term goals can dictate which format is best suited for your print projects. Whether you're thinking about making a book for children or a substantial Art Book that documents your work through the years, this guide will help you. Let’s begin with Paperbacks...

Paperback means we’ll encase your bound inner pages with a thick, flexible card stock and glue the inner pages, known as the book block, to the spine with strong adhesive, resulting in neat, square prints. Items suitable for this kind of printing include NovelsAutobiographies and Memoirs.


Paperback Books…

Credit: Dr Peter Altman


...are cost-efficient: Low production costs make them affordable to print and purchase.


...let you set a high markup: Low print costs mean you can get a high return per item sold if you choose to sell your books, particularly if you print in bulk.


...offer a choice of printing options: From sizes to paper stocks, Paperback specifications are varied and can look just like ones you’d see in a bookshop.


...are portable: they take up little room on bookshelves and bags. They’re also lightweight, and readers can take your story with them.


...may attract more readers: Depending on your points of sale (i.e. online, in-store, at events, etc.), because the price point will be less of a barrier, your work may end up in more hands and span a greater variety of readers.


Now, let’s move on to Hardcovers…

Hardcover Books include bound printed pages encased in a rigid protective cover with a durable adhesive. Our Sewn Hardcovers join pages by sewing sections with thread, which we then glue to a hard outer cover for an even longer-lasting finish. Items suitable for this printing option include CookbooksColoring Books, and Children's Books.


Hardcover Books…

Credit: Exalted Funeral


...offer superior strength and durability: As the name demonstrates, the most beneficial part of a Hardcover is that the binding will secure and protect your work for years to come. Plus, it will withstand wear and tear longer than a Paperback.


...look good: Hardcovers are prized for their upscale appearance and can do wonders for professionals looking to upgrade their credibility and stand out from the competition.


...allow you to add custom features: You can elevate your print work by adding special features to your cover. From Spot UV to colored endpapers, you can create books that are truly your own.


...are highly versatile: Whether you're printing a text-heavy book or one full of photographs, this format is perfect for a variety of print projects. You can also determine which print method is best for your upcoming publications by comparing Reading and Professional Photo-Quality Books here.


However, there are some differences to bear in mind that could influence your decision:


  • Costs: Hardcovers are more expensive to print and purchase than Paperbacks.


  • Durability: Paperbacks are prone to deterioration when frequently handled. Hardcovers may succumb to some damage if treated similarly to Paperbacks but will last much longer.


  • Physicality: Hardcover items tend to weigh more than their Paperback counterpart due to high page counts, which can affect shipping costs.


  • Print Options: Paperbacks offer a range of print options, but you cannot achieve seamless double-page spreads, for example. You also cannot add sewn binding or dust jackets. And while lamination options are limited for Hardcovers because they require the most durable finishes, the array of Paperback cover finishes is more expansive, meaning you have more freedom regarding how best to protect your cover and enhance its aesthetics.


  • Earnings: If you bulk print Hardcover Books and they remain unsold, you'll miss out on profits and have inventory taking up valuable space. But if you print Hardcovers and sell fewer copies than you hoped, you can still make a return per book. You'd have to potentially sell the same or more Paperbacks to make or exceed profits.


Paperbacks offer impressive financial and creative possibilities but don’t last as long as Hardcovers. However, Hardcovers have an unbeatable presence with their high-quality finishes and custom features, but creators may struggle to sell them. If you print both Hardcover and Paperback versions, you’ll still have two timeless reading options that cater to multiple audiences and price points. For more news and inspiration, check out the array of posts on Mixam's Blog and visit our Support section for helpful guidance and advice on all things print.


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