Hardcover Vs. Paperback: Which One Is a Better Choice?

by Laura C. Jones

If you are a book reader, you’ve most likely been confronted with the following question: hardcover or paperback? At first glance, the answer might be a no-brainer, but things are not as easy as they seem. In fact, both formats have their own series of benefits and drawbacks, which makes choosing one over the other even harder.

But today, it’s time to settle the debate once and for all and decide which format is better. Let’s take a closer look at their pros and cons and see who is the ultimate winner in the hardcover vs. paperback battle.

What’s Hardcover?


A hardcover book has a rigid and heavy protective cover, usually made from binder’s board or heavy paperboard. Some hardcover books also have a dust-jacket that goes over the main cover. Dust jackets are the leather or paper things that you might see on hardcovers and feature artwork or other information related to the book.

What’s Paperback?


Paperback books have a cover that is made from cardboard or paper with the pages being held together by glue. As a result, paperback books are cheaper to manufacture and can be printed in large numbers with ease. That’s exactly why paperback books are far more common and much more loved by new writers.

Hardcover Vs. Paperback

In order to decide which format is better, you need to know the main differences between the two. So, let’s check out a few important factors that can help you get a better understanding of those formats.

1. Durability

There’s little to no doubt that hardcover books are extremely durable and can withstand most types of damage. And thanks to their dust-jacket, you don’t have to worry about ruining your favorite book with a few drops of liquid.

In contrast, the durability of paperback books depends on the material of the cover. For example, cardboard covers have a better chance to withstand fall damage. Additionally, the pages of paperback books are easier to break or tear.  

Sadly, no matter which type of paperback cover it has, you can destroy the book in an instant by dropping any liquid on it.

2. Functionality

The standards for what is considered functional differs from reader to reader. However, the consensus is that paperback books are much more versatile and portable due to their light and compact design. Not only that but they can be bent and stuffed in the back of your bag without the fear of breaking them.

When it comes to hardcover books, things are a bit different. While it’s true that they are durable, they are also pretty heavy, making them harder to carry around.

Even so, hardcover books have a better print quality, which is a big benefit that paperback books don’t have. Plus, they usually have no need for external bookmarks since they already have one included in their cover.

3. Looks

There’s no denying that hardcover books are by far the best-looking on the market. In fact, more often than not, hardcovers have unique artworks or designs that make them valuable as collector items. And since publishers print fewer hardcover books, they are actually rarer than their paperback counterparts.

Paperback books are much more common and usually don’t have anything unique about them. While some might have interesting cover artwork, most paperback books are bland and boring. Besides, nothing beats the feeling of touching a hardcover book that has a nice leather cover.

4. Price

Generally speaking, hardcover books are much more expensive than their paperback counterparts. Why? Because they are more expensive to print and put together. Furthermore, as previously noted, hardcover books are great for collectors, which makes them even more sought after and as a result, more expensive.

Which One Is Better?

which one is better

Ultimately, it all boils down to personal preference. On the one hand, hardcover books are much more durable, good-looking, and interesting. Yet, they are also more expensive and rare, meaning that you might have a hard time finding the hardcover variant of your favorite book.

On the other hand, paperback books are lighter and versatile, allowing you to take them anywhere you go. However, they are pretty fragile and you can accidentally break them.

So remember to take those things into consideration next time you are faced with choosing between the two formats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hardcover Worth Buying?

If you want a book that will last for more than a few years, then a hardcover book is more than worth it. But if you just want to read the book and move to another one, you should purchase the paperback variant, as it provides a better value for money.

Why Do People Buy Hardcover Books?

Usually, people hardcover books due to their unique appearance or for collection purposes. As a matter of fact, when a book is first released, it comes out in a limited hardcover format, making it extremely popular amongst collectors and hardcore fans. So, if you have a thing for collecting books, you might want to check out the hardcover variants of your favorite piece of literature.

Why Are Paperback Books Cheaper?

Paperback books are much easier to manufacture and don’t require any expensive materials. In fact, paper and cardboard-covered books are mass-produced to fill the demand, meaning that they are cheaper and more widely available.

Why Are Books First Available in a Hardcover Format?

Publishers prefer to launch books using hardcover because they know they can ask for a higher price. Not only that but they also limited the number of prints, making sure that the book will be sold out, making it even more sought after and popular.

How Much Do I Have to Wait Before a Book Comes in Paperback Variant?

Not releasing a paperback format is a bad financial move, so it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when such a variant will be released.

Yet, the time you have to wait between the initial hardcover release of a book and its paperback variant depends on the publisher. Some launch paperback books after a few months while others prefer to wait one or two years to increase the hype surrounding the book.

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