Book Distribution

Book Printing

Paperback vs. Hardcover: How Should You Print Your Book?

If you’re taking the reins on how your book is being printed, you’ve probably already come to face-to-face with the many available options. We’ve talked before on the Big Bad Book Blog about print-on-demand versus traditional printing, but we thought it might also be helpful to discuss binding style. Paperback, hardcover, mass market—everyone has seen these formats in bookstores, but how do you decide which is right for your book?

Let’s start by clarifying a few terms:

Paperback (also called soft cover or perfect-bound) books usually have a cover made from paperboard or a very thick stock, and the pages are attached to the binding with glue. When we talk about paperback books, we typically mean trade paperbacks, which are the typical 6 x 9 or 5.5 x 8.5–sized books you see in bookstores. Mass-market is a type of paperback you often see used for romance novels or thrillers. Mass-market books are usually smaller in trim size and fatter with a thinner, lower-quality stock and cover.

Hardcover (also called casebound or hardbound) books have covers that are sturdier, usually made from thick cardboard wrapped in cloth. Here the pages can be glued or sewn into the spine, making the spine more flexible so that the book can lay flat when opened. The book title and author's name are often stamped onto the cloth binding, and hardcover books typically come with printed dust jacket with artwork.

Printing Your Book: Should You Go With Print-On-Demand?

When you’re deciding how to print your book, you have two main options: print-on-demand or printing on an offset press. What do those two options entail exactly? Print-on-demand, or POD, allows you to digitally print a single book at a time, often using a large laser printer. Offset, or “traditional,” printing involves a huge press that transfers the image from an inked plate to a rubber blanket and then to the paper, and usually necessitates a print run of at least 1,000 units to make economic sense. So which is right for your book? It depends on several factors you’ll want to weigh before making a decision.

You might consider POD if…