What are Better – Hardback or Paperback Books?

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I love hardback books whilst my partner prefers paperback books. But is one really better than the other? In the article I hope to look at the difference between the two and try to work out which one (if any) is actually any better than the other.

What is a hardback book?

A hardback book, also known as a hardcover book, is generally larger than a paperback book and come with hard, heavy protective covers and then a lot of these will have a paper dust jacket to protect the book even further. As a rule, the RRP of these books can be double or more than its paperback counterpart. These books generally have better quality paper and printing and they have been designed to protect the book for a longer period of time than you would expect from a paperback as they are much more hardwearing and don’t get as damaged as easily. A lot of established authors also publish their latest novel in hardback first with a longer wait for the paperback version (a majority of the time this is also more profitable, usually for the publisher).

What is a paperback book?

A paperback book is generally a lot smaller and a lot lighter than a hardback and can probably fit in the back pocket of your jeans, making them much more portable. These are printed on lesser quality paper and have a cover made of thin cardboard. They are a whole lot cheaper to produce and can reach a wider audience and you can fit a lot more of them of them on your shelves.

So the main differences are:

  • Cost: Hardbacks are more expensive to produce and purchase than paperbacks
  • Weight, size and portability: Hardbacks are heavy and bulky making them more difficult to carry around whereas paperbacks are smaller and lighter and better suited for reading whilst travelling.
  • Quality: Hardbacks are produced to a much higher quality than paperbacks, therefore should last a lot longer. This is generally why collector’s editions are hardbacks.
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But what is better?

I think that hardbacks look much nicer on the bookcases and shelves, paperbacks can end up looking quite grubby with their cracked spines and bent covers (or it that a well-loved look?). Depending on how you read a hardback there is no need for a bookmark if you leave the dust jacket on – personally I always remove the dust jackets when reading a book and use a bookmark (I certainly don’t like the corners of pages being folded over). Hardbacks are definitely more durable and should last a lot longer. The latest novels by established authors are generally available first in hardback (and eBook) with a long wait for the paperback version. On the downside, hardbacks can be a lot more expensive than a paperback and are a lot heavier and less portable.

Paperbacks are a lot cheaper and much more portable and will have a lot more titles available than hardbacks, with less established authors printing this way (although there will be a lot more available in eBook format, but that’s a topic for another time). On the downside, a paperback can de damaged very easily and can end up looking grubby.

So is a hardback better than a paperback?

I think so, but then it depends on what you are after and what you want out of a book. The story will be the same, so does it matter?

If you want a quick read at the airport and have no intention of keeping the book, then paperbacks are the way to go. Or maybe you want to try a new author before investing in hardback versions of their books.

If you want to collect your books and have them looking nice on the shelves, then it’s hardback all the way.

Or maybe you just love to read but don’t have the budget for hardbacks, then paperbacks are a better and cheaper alternative – you might just have to wait longer for a paperback version, but it is still the same story (you could always borrow the hardback version from your local library in the meantime).

So why buy a hardback over a paperback?

I like to keep my books, so for me the better quality, look and feel of a hardback book will always make be buy a hardback over a paperback. They are generally costlier, so are better suited for collectors. When purchasing a hardback, I know it will last a long time, will look better on a shelf and won’t have that grubby look of a paperback with cracked spines, torn covers and bent pages.

If you read a lot of established big name authors, buying their latest novel in hardback generally means you get it at least six to twelve months before the paperback release.


So back to the original question of “What is better – Hardback or Paperback?” Well, I think the answer is neither, but that’s for you to decide. It is all down to personal preference and what you expect to get out of the book – is it just a quick read? Do you want something light to take and read on the train to work every morning? Do you want to keep, collect and/or display your books? Or is all down to budget?

Everyone will have their own opinion so it’s down to you to judge. I will always prefer hardbacks, but I do own paperbacks and plenty of eBooks as well. After all, if doesn’t really matter what format a book comes in, reading and enjoying the work of some very talented authors is the most important thing.

Let us know what you think in the comments box below, maybe you have a completely different way of looking at them than I do, maybe you agree or even disagree. Let me know.

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