What is a Paperback Book?


Do you have a fondness for reading books? Whether it’s the comforting embrace of a paperback or the dignified presence of a hardcover, the format matters less when the content within those pages transports you to new realms, offers solace from everyday stress, or leaves a lasting imprint on your life.

But what sets these two beloved book formats apart? Is it just the price tag that distinguishes paperbacks from hardbacks, or are there deeper distinctions that make paperbacks a unique treasure trove of literary experiences?

To find out, let us dive deep into the topic and find out what is a paperback book, how it differs from hardcover books, and understand its role in the publishing world.

But before we get into the details of this blog, if you’re an aspiring author or someone with a story to tell, consider the services offered by Hancock Ghostwriters. With our comprehensive book publishing services, we can transform your manuscript into a beautifully bound paperback or a distinguished hardcover. 

With that said, let’s dive right into our blog.

Paperback books - A Convenient And Accessible Format

A paperback book, commonly known as a “paperback,” is distinguished by its supple and lightweight cover, often crafted from paper or cardstock. This format is widely embraced and favored for the publication of diverse literary genres, encompassing novels, non-fiction masterpieces, educational textbooks, and a multitude of other written works. The paperback’s inherent flexibility, affordability, and accessibility render it a beloved choice among both authors and readers alike.

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Hardcover Vs. Paperback

Hardcovers and paperbacks are two common formats for publishing books, each with its own set of characteristics and advantages. Here are some key differences between the two:


  • Durability:

Hardcover books are known for their sturdiness and durability. They have a thick, rigid cover that protects the pages within. This makes them less susceptible to wear and tear, making them ideal for long-term use and as collectibles.

  • Aesthetics

Hardcovers are often considered more aesthetically pleasing and are associated with high-quality or special edition books. They often feature attractive dust jackets with artwork and additional information.

  • Longevity

Hardcover books tend to have a longer lifespan compared to paperbacks. They can withstand the test of time and are well-suited for library collections.

  • Higher Cost: 

Hardcover books are typically more expensive than paperbacks due to their higher production costs, including the hardcover binding and dust jacket.

  • Weight and Size: 

Hardcover books are heavier and bulkier than paperbacks, which can be less convenient for carrying around.

  • Collectibility: 

Many collectors prefer hardcover editions for their potential value and desirability.


  • Affordability

Paperback books are more affordable than hardcovers, which makes them accessible to a wider range of readers.

  • Portability

Paperbacks are lighter and more compact, making them easier to carry in bags and read on the go.

  • Flexibility

The softcover design of paperbacks is more flexible, allowing for easier handling and page-turning.

  • Availability: 

Paperback editions of books are typically released after the initial hardcover publication, so readers may have to wait a little longer for the paperback version to become available.

  • Mass Market Paperbacks:

This is a specific type of paperback format known for its small size and lower price. These are commonly used for genre fiction and are often sold in supermarkets and drugstores.

  • Eco-Friendly: 

Paperbacks are generally considered more environmentally friendly due to their lower production costs and use of fewer materials.

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How Is A Paperback Made?

Manufacturing a paperback book is slightly different from a hardcover book, so if you are planning to publish a book and want to know the process, then keep reading.

1. Typesetting and Prepress

The first step in publishing a paperback book is to typeset the content, which means you have to arrange everything from the text to images according to the format and layout. The standard format for paperback books is 5.5.x8.5 inches.

After typesetting, the pages are formatted into signatures. Signature is a process where a number of pages are printed together on a bigger sheet of paper.

2. Printing

Once the prepress is done, now is the time to print the book. The majority of the printers use offset book web rolls for the pages, as it is less expensive and is more natural looking.

3. Folding and Cutting

After you have all the pages printed, the next step is to cut the large printed sheets that are first folded to look like book pages and then trimmed to the book’s size with the help of the cutting machine.

4. Binging

This is the step where the process gets a little different from hardcover books. For hardcover books, the pages are either sewn together or glued to the book cover, but with paperback books, the book cover is not that strong to bear that much glue.

So, the printing companies either use the perfect binding technique where an adhesive is applied on the edge of the pages, and then the cover is glued to the spine, or they simply staple the pages together through the fold line.

5. Cover Finishing

For paperback books, the covers are printed on much heavier paper like cardstock. Then they place a lamination layer on it to enhance its appearance and protect it. 

After the layer is applied, the cover is attached to the bound pages with the help of an adhesive for perfect binding.

What Is The Need Of A Paperback Book?

If you are planning to publish a book, there is a high chance that your publisher has suggested that you release a hardcover and paper edition of your book. If they have, then this question must have crossed your mind, “why do I need paperback books?”

One of the main reasons behind this is that hardcover books are more expensive, which is why they are sold for a higher price, which means that only book enthusiasts will buy your hardcover edition.

However, paperback books do not cost as much as hardcover books to produce, which is why they are sold for a comparatively lesser price and more sales. 

So, to save production money and reach a larger number of audiences, many authors release a limited hardcover edition of their books.

Once that edition is sold out, they release a paperback edition for those who love reading books but cannot afford to spend a fortune on them.

5 Types of Paperback Books

There are 5 types of paperback books, and each one of them fulfills a different role in the publishing market. So, let us get to them and see what those roles are.

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1. Trade Paperbacks

Trade paperback books are at the top tier of the paperback market. Such type is printed for books with a higher profit margin, mostly nonfiction. 

The quality of paper used for the publishing pages [h2] and book cover are also of the highest quality among others used for paperback books.

Trade paperback books are larger in size (5.5×8.5 inches) and are printed for people who like buying books for a lower price than hardcover books but still want good quality and durable products for themselves.

Nonfiction book genres, such as psychology, self-help, finance, parenting, relationship, and health, fit trade paperbacks the best.

2. Mass Market Paperbacks

Firstly, mass-market paperback books are smaller in size (4.25×6.87 inches.) The pages used for such paperback books are also comparatively less expensive than the ones used for trade paperback books, which makes them much cheaper to produce and sell.

Mass-market paperback books are best fit for fictional books, as the majority of people only read fiction books once. Then they are placed on the shelf as an achievement, which is why their durability is not considered an important factor.

Basically, this edition is released years after the hardcover and trade paperback editions to keep the book in the market in case someone wants to read it.

The profit margin on mass-market paperback books is very low, so the only way to make a profit with such an edition is if your book is a blockbuster and people still want to read it after years.

3. Pocket Paperback

As the name suggests, pocket paperback books are even smaller than mass-market paperbacks and are designed to fit easily in a pocket or purse. As these books are smaller, they have smaller font sizes which makes them a bit harder to read.

But, surprisingly, there is a whole audience who buys pocket paperback books as they like to read when they are traveling from one place to another.

4. Spiral Bound paperback

These books have a soft cover and a plastic or metallic coil that spirals around to hold the pages together. These paperback books can easily fold toward the front and back, making them fit easily in a compact space.

You will most commonly see this style of paperback books in instruction manuals, how-to books, and cookbooks, where you can easily leave the book on a flat surface without the need to grab one side of the book to keep the pages still.

5. Graphic Novel Paperback

These are any usual paperback books like trade, pocket, or mass market. The only difference is that their style is more like a comic book.

Graphic novel paperback books are usually either a set of different comics compiled together into a series, or a collection of popular magazines printed for a special occasion like an anniversary.

Looking For A Publisher?

Are you ready to publish your book but still have not found a publisher you can completely trust with your life’s work? Hancock Ghostwriters is here to help you connect with one of the top professional publishers in the country.

All you have to do is contact us, and we shall provide you with all the different publishing options, such as self-publishing, publishing on an online reading platform, i.e., Amazon, Kindle, etc., traditional publishing, or general contractor publishing.

We understand that publishing your book is a big step, and it will decide your book’s future. So, if you need any help anywhere through the process, just contact us, and we shall be there for you until your book is out.

Wrapping Up

Paperback books come with a number of advantages over hardcover books. For example, they are portable, convenient to carry, durable, and affordable.

If you are an author with a nonfiction book that is ready to publish but want to market it with an affordable budget, then you should go for trade paperback books as they are more cost-effective than hardcover books.

But if you feel like your book is going to be a blockbuster, and want to make good money, then you can release a limited edition of hardcover books, and once it is sold out, then release a paperback edition to continue sales for the coming years.

And if you’re in the business of creating coloring books, whether in paperback or hardcover format, don’t miss out on our informative blog post dedicated to guiding you through the process of publishing your own coloring book. It’s a valuable resource for artists and creators looking to share their colorful visions with the world.

Your story deserves to be shared.

Publish your paperback book with us and make your mark in the literary world.


  1.   Why are some books first released in hardcover and later in paperback?

Hardcover books are often released first because they provide a higher profit margin for publishers and are considered more prestigious for major book releases. Once the initial demand for the hardcover edition has been met, publishers often release a paperback edition to cater to a broader audience and provide a more affordable option.

  1.       Can paperback books be collector’s items?

While paperback books can be valuable and collectible, they are generally less sought after by collectors than hardcover editions. Special editions or limited runs of certain paperback books, especially those signed by the author or featuring unique cover designs, can become collectibles.

  1.       How are paperback books bound?

Paperback books are typically bound using two main methods: perfect binding and saddle stitching. In perfect binding, the book’s pages are gathered and glued together along the spine, and the flexible cover is wrapped around the book block and glued to the spine. In saddle stitching, folded sheets are stapled through the fold line to create a booklet-like structure.

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