What Is A Paperback Book? Types And Reasons Why It Is Used

by CJ McDaniel // January 20  

For decades, most books released often come out first in hardcover versions months or years before the paperback versions are released. Most authors will do this to increase the awareness of the books and even increase their profit margins.

Hardcover books may be good for shows and advertising to potential readers but paperback books are smaller and lightweight, making them convenient for people on the go.

What is a Paperback book?

A paperback which is also known as the softcover is a type of book that comes with a paperboard cover that is held together with an adhesive rather than stitches or staples used in binding hardcover books. 

In contrast to paperback books, hardcover books are covered or bound with cardboards that are covered with plastic or leather materials. Hardcover books normally come with more designs than paperback books and they are heavier too. 

Paperback books have become more popular since the beginning of the 19h century where they come in the forms of yellow-backs, pamphlets, and dime novels. New paperbacks are more durable and also come in different formats from different countries. 

When Are Paperback Books Issued?

Paperback books are issued basically when an author decides to issue a low-cost version of the hardcover book. Paperback can thus be described as the lower quality book version. The absence of hardcover makes paperbacks much cheaper.

Paperback is also a consideration when the author doesn’t have the resources to invest hugely in their books. A paperback is also considering the ideal medium of a book when the author doesn’t expect the book to be a major seller. Reprints of older books, new book versions, and new novels often come in paperbacks for several reasons.

Since paperbacks do come with lesser profit margins, many book publishers balance profit projection by selling fewer hardcover books and more paperbacks. Many publishers thus use paperbacks to extend profits from hardcovers through the issuing of paperbacks. Most first editions of genre books are now published in paperbacks

What Are The Types Of Paperbacks You Can Opt For?

There are three different types of paperback books, these are;

  • Mass Market.
  • B-format and
  • Trade.

1. The mass market paperback

This is a very small paperback type that is non-illustrated. The UK A-format that measures 4 3/8 x 7 inches in width and height is an example of a mass-market paperback. They are also known to be printed with low-quality paper.

These paperbacks are commonly published after the hardcopy editions and are commonly sold in non-traditional book stores like airports, supermarkets, and drug stores. You may also find them in traditional bookstores.

Romance novels often accounted for more than half of paperback versions in the 1980s and they are still popular to date. When booksellers notice some books are not selling, they may return them to publishers for a refund or credit for their future orders. Mass-market type of paperback books is mostly common among first book authors.

Many airport staffs often give passengers at the airport such paperback books to read while waiting to board aircraft. Aside from romance genres, magazine cartoon series and comics are also popular mass-market paperbacks you can find in public places.

2. The B-format paperbacks

This is a term used in describing medium-sized paperback books that measure 5 1/8 and 8 inches in width and height respectively. This size has been synonymous with literary novels, especially from the fiction genre. You may also find these paperback types in smaller formats. The B-format normally comes with paper qualities that are better than those used for mass-market paperbacks.

3. Trade Paperback Book

Trade paper book is also referred to as “Trade paper edition”. His option comes with the highest quality paper of all three types. It is a softcover option of a previously-released hardcover book and the text contents and pages in it often tally with what you find in the hardcover edition is published by the same publisher.

While the pages in the trade paperback are the same as the hardcover version, the softcover seems to be the only difference. Acid-free paper is one of the good quality paper types used in creating trade softcover book.

In some countries, the Trade paperback encompasses softcover books also described as B-format options but they come in larger sizes such as 5 3/8 x 8 ½ inches in width and height respectively.

Trade comics are good examples of Trade paperback books. The paperbacks are used in the reprint of many trade comic series in a single volume. The paperback can be used in printing a storyline or the entire series.

Trade paperback has become very synonymous with collections of mass re-printed materials. They are for instance used in the creation and mass production of graphic comic books. Just like in other types of books, publishers often release a hardcopy version of books before releasing trade paperback versions.

The watchmen from DC comics and the Secret war series from Marvel comics are just two of the common Trade paperback books around today.

Paperback vs Hardcover Backs- Which One Should You Go For?

The hardcover was originally designed to do nothing more than protecting the pages within, The advance in printing technology and economic reasons brought about the development of paperback which was released in the year 1935.

The paperback has proven to be an immediate success and authors are now being offered two options for printing; the classic hard book cover and cheaper yet cheerful soft paperback. The following factors will help you determine which option to go for;


Hardcovers are generally more expensive. The cost of making a hardcover can be 5 times the cost of making a soft paperback. Authors who can afford the highly-anticipated hardcover option often anticipate higher sales and hen release paperback options months after the release of hardcovers.

Paperbacks are not only cheaper; they are more cheerful makes it easier for people to read because of is lightweight. The problem with paperbacks is that they can easily wear out and become easily damaged with repeated use. Many users of paperbacks often buy another copy if they enjoy the content of the book.

The Functionality

Functionality means different things to different readers. Since paperback is light and compact, it means the book type can be easily transported. The paperback is also easily bent and stuffed inside a traveler’s bag hence it is more functional than the hardcover.

A Hardcover on the other side is very strong and provides a more aesthetically appealing outlook. Hardcover is far more long-lasting and durable than the paperback, and hardcover can hold its value more than the paperback.

The Appeal 

You should also consider your audience when choosing between paperback and hardcover. Some premium readers will only go for hardcover books, though everyone may find the affordability of paperbacks more helpful.

Think of how your users will use your book. The appeal of your book will also depend on your expectations of your readers. A paperback may look too cheap for some premium readers; hence you should consider your competitors and how they appeal to your readers.

Many book readers will admit that the appeal of hardcover books that paperbacks cannot match. If you want a book that people will want and appreciate, plus a price that they can sacrifice to pay, then a hardcover option may be your ideal.


Unfortunately, hardcover books are becoming less and less available because they are very expensive and more difficult to make. Few publishers are still dealing with publishing companies for hardcover books but the most important thing for authors is to make their books available. Paperback books are more available than hardcover books because of their cheaper production costs and availability in many places. You may want to go for a paperback if you want your book to be more readily available.


When it comes to storage, the hardcover book takes an upper hand because it is designed to store better and last longer. The paperback option will begin to wrinkle and flake after some period of repeated usage, whereas hardcover books are made from solid long-lasting materials.

For longevity reasons, you should invest in the hardcover back that can last for decades. This will be a great bargain even for your readers.


When it comes to simplicity, exposure, and cost-competitiveness, both paperback and hardcover books cannot be compared to e-publishing. E-publishing is far better than other options for publishing books because you will minimize the risks efficiently while maximizing your profit.

E-publishing has grown to a point where you can publish your books online and also convert them to a paperback option that can be printed at no extra cost.

The e-publishing platform does everything for you, all you need is to create a cover with the publishing platform’s cover design and publish your book. With e-publishing, you will generate a commission for life. From the factors explained above, you should be able to find your perfect choice between hardcover and paperback good.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!