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Difference Between Hardcover and Paperback

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Ever wondered what the difference between hardcover and paperback is? If yes, you're at the right place. Run through this article for a complete set of information related to hardcover and paperback.

What are the differences between Hardcover and Paperback?

Even though both hardcover and paperback are types of books and bookbinding, there are a range of factors that differentiate them from each other. Be it price or quality, structure or weight, pretty much everything sits differently.

Talking about the pricing factor, most of the time, it is noticed that hardcovers are more costly than paperbacks. Besides that, there are more distinguishing elements; read along for more detailed information.

What is Hardcover?

A hardcover which is also known as hardback, hardbound, and case-bound, is a type of book that is bound with hard protective covers. The pages of such a book are usually firmly held together with stitches and staples.

Although hardcover books fall on the costlier side due to their fantastic durability, they are an intelligent choice to go with in case of the necessary documentation.

What is Paperback?

In simple words, a paperback is a form of book characterized by cardboard or paperboard covers. People also call it a paperback softcover or softback. In the case of a paperback, instead of holding papers with staples and stitches, they are instead held together with glue.

Compared to hardcover, the paperback is relatively cheaper in cost. Paperbacks are of two types, namely,

  • ‌Mass-market Paperback
  • Trade Paperback

Differences Between Hardcover and Paperback


One of the most common differences between hardcover and paperback lies in their pricing. Generally, hardcovers are costlier than paperbacks. But that is not always true; sometimes, you may find a hardcover that is cheaper than paperbacks.


When compared on the basis of quality, books with hardcovers have a better quality of papers than paperback books.


Speaking of looks, hardcovers have a premium look, while on the other side, glimpses of the paperback are average.


The build of hardcover and paperback is pretty different. You can easily guess this from their names themselves. While hardcovers are hard and thick, the paperbacks are thinner.


As hardcovers have thicker pages, they are likely to be heavier. On the contrary, paperbacks have thin pages making them lighter in weight.


Hardcover also comes with a soft dust jacket. This jacket gives protection to the books against dust and keeps its pages clear. However, there is no such jacket thing in the case of a paperback. They only have soft covers and provide no protection against dust.


On the basis of comfortability, both hardcover and paperback can be easily differentiated. Holding books with a hardcover for a more extended period can be uncomfortable, whereas paperbacks are easy to keep and very comfortable.


Talking about publication, the books are usually released and published in hardcover for the first time. On the other hand, paperbacks are issued after the publication is done on the hardcover.


One of the significant drawbacks of using paperback over hardcover is its durability. Hardcovers are very durable, and it's pages get minor damage over time. On the contrary, the pages of paperback get damaged easily if not handled properly.


Sizes or dimensions are an essential factor if we talk about the difference between hardcover and paperback. On one side, hardcovers are larger in size, while paperbacks usually come in smaller dimensions.


Well, in the case of flexibility, paperbacks are more reliable than hardcovers. If you like carrying books while traveling, paperbacks are the ultimate choice. Unlike hardcovers, paperbacks are very flexible and convenient to use.

Paper Quality Used Inside

Another parameter for differentiating hardcovers from paperbacks is the quality of papers used inside. The papers used in hardcovers are acid-free, whereas, for paperbacks, typical papers are used.

Types of Books

Generally, books with hardcovers are bestsellers, reference guides, library books, etc. Contrary to this, books with paperbacks are the ones that are used for a short period such as, the books read in a salon, flight, and so on.

Space Occupied

While books with hardcovers occupy more space, books with paperbacks can be kept easily anywhere as they need relatively less space.

Number of Pages

The number of pages usually is higher in the case of hardcovers. While on the alternative side, paperbacks come with a lesser number of pages.


In the case of lifespan, hardcovers have a long lifespan and can be used for a more extended period of time. Meanwhile, paperbacks have a short span of life and can't be stored for long-term uses.

Comparison Chart: Hardcover Vs Paperback

Parameters Hardcover Paperback
Price CostlierCheaper
Quality Better qualityQuality not good enough
Looks PremiumAverage
Build Hard and thickThinner
Weight HeavyLight
Protection AvailableUnavailable
Comfortability UnavailableAvailable
Publication First PublicationAfter the publication of hardcovers
Durability MoreLess
Dimension LargerSmaller
Flexibility LessMore
Paper Quality Used Inside Acid-freeRegular
Types of BooksBestsellers, Reference guides, library books, etc.Books read in a salon, flight, etc.
Space Occupied MoreLess
Number of Pages MoreLess
Lifespan LongerShorter

Similarities: How are Hardcovers similar to Paperbacks

Despite the fact that both hardcovers and paperbacks are widely apart, their forms are identical. Simply speaking both are types of book covers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are paperbacks or hardcovers better?

The answer to this question is pretty much subjective and entirely depends on your needs and requirements. If you're low on budget or want a book for quick reading, then paperbacks fit in perfectly. While on the alternative side, if you're planning to store books for future reading purposes, it's always better to go for the hardcovers ones.

Which is more expensive, hardcover or paperback?

Typically, hardcovers are more expensive than paperbacks. This is so because the cost of manufacturing hardcovers is higher than that of paperbacks. However, you can never ignore some exceptions...


Both hardcovers and paperbacks are forms of book covers or bookbinding with different prices, shapes, and characteristics altogether. In the article, we've talked about almost every factor that will help you to put these two in different boxes. Do you think we missed any? Feel free to share them with us.


Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.

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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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