Post: The hardcover versus softcover book debate


When you’ve brought your dream to fruition of writing a fiction novel manuscript and having it accepted by a publisher, you’ll face numerous decisions. For example, you’ll work with your publishing and design teams to choose a book cover for your novel. This is an important decision because cover design makes a first impression. In fact, many readers say they choose which books they will purchase based solely on their covers. You must also determine where you stand on the endless book debate regarding hardcover versus softcover publications. 

Is one better than the other? There’s not a specific answer to the question. Each author has unique goals, and one option might be more viable than another in various situations. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits and (possible) downsides to hardcover versus softcover books. Keep the information in mind when your next manuscript is headed for the printing press.

Book debate issues that might make you lean toward or away from a hardcover copy

The following two lists include potential pros and cons of making a hardcover copy of your fiction novel available to the public.

Benefits of hardcover books:

  • Authors typically earn greater royalties for hardcover versions of their books.
  • Book stores usually choose hardcover copies for their primary displays.
  • Hardcover books are sturdy and durable.
  • Avid readers with home libraries who collect books often choose hardcover copies. 
  • Such books are usually larger than their softcopy counterparts, which leaves more space for a book cover design.
  • People often prefer the classic elegance of hardcovers when giving books as gifts.

If you want people to make your book part of their home libraries, a hardcover option might be best for you. The materials and binding process create a sturdy final product that can last for decades. 

What are the downsides?

A few issues that might make you favor a softcover over a hardcover book: 

  • Hardcovers might take up too much luggage space when packing books for travel.
  • It’s more expensive to publish hardcover books than it is to publish softcovers. 
  • Many readers can’t afford to purchase hardcover copies.
  • Hardcovers take a bigger toll on the environment.

Remember that hardcovers usually have dust jackets but also have a design (at least title and author text) on the cover or binding. Some hardcovers are case laminated, which means there is no dust wrap. Since there are so many options, it’s helpful to seek guidance from an experienced publishing and design team.

The pros and cons of softcover books

There are several reasons why authors might prefer softcovers books over hardcover options.

Benefits of softcover books:

  • Softcovers are compact in size and easily portable. 
  • Book club members often prefer paperback versions because they are lightweight.
  • Readers often prefer them because they are more affordable than hard copies.
  • They take less time to produce and distribute.
  • It’s less expensive to publish paperbacks. 

In a nutshell, softcover books are more convenient to use and less expensive to publish or purchase. 

What are the cons of softcover books?

  • Softcover pages might yellow more easily.
  • Paperbacks are not as durable as hardcovers; they are easily damaged.
  • They can’t lie open on a flat surface; you must hold them to read them.
  • Softcovers don’t display as well as hardcovers. 
  • They are usually worth less for resales than hardcovers. 
  • Font sizes in paperbacks are smaller than hardcovers, creating reading difficulty. 

Just as with hardcover books, there are advantages and disadvantages to softcover designs. Many authors choose both options. If you do this, remember that each version of your book (including eBooks as well) must have its own ISBN number and must meet trim size and formatting requirements.