Your masterpiece is finally completed! After pouring your heart and soul into your first foray into authorship, you are ready to embark on the self-publishing journey.

At the behest of some sage wisdom received, you have hired a professional to tackle the cover design for your book. And, because it has turned out utterly spectacular, you want to do this cover proud. So, now the big question that looms before you: paperback vs. hardcover?

Most of us have been groomed over the years to consider a hardcover book to be superior to the “lowly” paperback. In fact, publishers will typically launch a title in hardcover with a dust jacket amid all sorts of fanfare announcing the fresh-off-the-press next bestseller. Savvy readers understood that by playing the waiting game, usually up to a year, the paperback version would be released for a fraction of the original price.

But times they are a-changing. Hardcover books are still all that for certain book genres, namely textbooks, children’s books, first-edition fiction, and coffee table books. But, in recent years, a clear preference for paperback has taken some of the wind out of the hardcover’s sails—and sales.

Self-publishing services offer a gamut of cover options, making the decision of which cover to select for your project a head-scratching exercise in calculating profit, determining the projected use of your book, and what cover type is standard for your particular genre.

To navigate all this, let’s first consider the primary differences between hardcover and paper options.

Pros and Cons of Paperback vs. Hardcover

Researching about paperback vs. hardcover preferences can leave you cross-eyed. Surprisingly, some sources claim that paperback is the pricier option, which defies logic.

I mean, why do people think paperback is more expensive than hardcover when retail prices for each clearly tell the real story of the hardcover and paperback price difference in publishing costs?

Why is paperback cheaper than hardcover?

This is because of the lower cost of materials and the ability to mass-produce a paperback. Hardcovers involve more manual labor to produce, in addition to higher material costs and more complicated printing processes. But this is just one example of the wide array of opinions you will have to sift through as you do your homework about self-publishing at large, and selecting a cover in particular.

Gathered here are the most commonly cited differences between hardcover and paper:


A paperback, or softcover, book uses a heavy cardstock, either glossy or matte, to protect the interior content. Some paperback books feature flaps to contain the book details and author bio. Additionally, the extra cover space provides for artwork and graphics.

We all love to cuddle up with a great paperback, don’t we? And for good reason:


  • Paperbacks are lightweight, more portable, and have lower shipping costs
  • They are pliable, making them easy to bend and pack into tight spaces
  • Paperbacks feel more consumable, and we are inspired to plow through them
  • Paperbacks cost at least half as much as hardcover books to publish

Then again, the paperback does have a few drawbacks:


  • Paperback covers can become tired looking, with curling corners and nicks
  • Paperbacks don’t carry the status of a hardcover book
  • There is more competition in the paperback category


A hardcover, or hardback, book can be made using a couple of different methods.

One method uses 2.5mm-3.5mm thick cardboard over which a coated paper is wrapped that contains the cover art design. The other is a clothbound, or case bound, cover in which a durable cloth is applied to the cardboard, and the cover art is applied directly to the cloth. Either of these versions can sport a dust jacket, which features the glossy cover art and interior flaps.

Who doesn’t love the look of a classy hardbound book? Here’s why:


  • Hardcover books have a premium look and feel
  • Hardcover is much more durable
  • With a dust jacket, hardcovers are like getting two covers in one
  • Hardcovers command a higher margin
  • Collectors prefer hardcovers

On the other hand:


  • Hardcovers are pricey, costing upwards of double the price of a paperback cover
  • Hardcover books are heavier
  • Hardcover books have higher shipping costs

Not Sure If Paperback, Hardcover, or Even eBook is Best?

So, which option is better in the great paperback vs. hardcover debate?

Clearly, the decision about which cover to select for your amazing new book is not all that clear. This is where some valuable publishing expertise can be worth its weight in gold.

Partnering with Gatekeeper Press for your book project immediately takes the stress out of this important publishing endeavor.

They will help you make the best choice for not only your cover but for all the decisions that factor into creating a high-quality final product. Additionally, Gatekeeper Press has both hardcover and paperback publishing services, as well as eBook publishing services.

Visit Gatekeeper Press today for their full spectrum of publishing services.

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