Steve Bearden

What is a Hardcover Book?

Hardcover books, also called hardbacks, are exactly what they sound like: books with hard covers. While custom book printers for hardcovers vary, most use thick cardboard between 2.5mm and 3.5mm as bindings for their books. Pages are attached to the binding with glue or are sewn directly onto the binding, which allows for more flexibility when read.


  • Hardcovers are the “premium” option for both look and feel.
  • Hardcovers are more durable and stand the test of time.
  • Hardcovers function as collectible items for both self-publishers and readers.
  • Hardcovers cost more and can potentially make more money for the selling self-publisher.
  • Because hardcovers often include a dust jacket, self-publishers can design two unique covers.


  • Hardcover print costs can be as much as 5x more per copy.
  • Hardcover books are heavier and more difficult to transport or manipulate.
  • Shipping costs are considerably higher for hardcover books at all volumes.

What is a Paperback Book?

Paperback books, also called softcovers, use heavy glossy or matte cardstock to protect the pages within. Each page is attached to the binding with glue. By a considerable margin, paperbacks are the most popular style for custom printed books written by self-publishing authors.


  • Paperbacks cost less to print.
  • Paperbacks allow self-publishing authors more flexibility in spine width and dimensions.
  • Paperbacks are ideal for on-the-go readers due to their portability.
  • Paperbacks are easier to hold and manipulate.
  • Readers feel better purchasing paperbacks because they are more affordable, allowing them to later purchase hardcovers if they enjoyed the book.


  • Paperbacks can become damaged far more easily than their hardcover counterparts.
  • Because paperbacks often cost much less than hardcovers, self-publishers may see smaller profits from sales. 
  • The paperback category has far more competition in the publishing industry.

Other Considerations

Depending on the nature of your book, hardcover may be the only way to go. For instance, if you’re trying to publish a yearbook or commemorative text, it may be best to select hardcover for its durability over paperback’s relative flimsiness.

Also, if your goal is to be noticed by a traditional publisher, releasing the book in hardcover first may be the best way to catch their attention so they can inquire about the rights to the paperback version – an avenue that doesn’t work the other way around.

Why Not Both?

Whether you’re self-publishing your first novel or simply want a way to remember a special time spent with friends, family, or your community baseball team, the choice between hardcover and paperback is entirely up to you. And sometimes, it’s okay to have it both ways.

If your book doesn’t fall into a specific category that necessitates either hardcover or paperback, you can always print your book in both formats. If your intention is to sell your book, you may find your clients or fans are more likely to purchase one over the other – afterward, you can dedicate your printing efforts to that specific format from now on.

If you still aren’t sure which option will work best for your self-publishing needs, maybe it’s time you contacted a custom printing expert. At Linemark, our goal is to take your project from creative to customer as seamlessly as possible. We’ll work with you to determine the best format for your self-publishing dreams and help make them a reality. For more information on our custom book printing services, contact the team at Linemark today.

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