Self Publishing

Paperback, Hardcover, or eBook – Which One is Right For You?

Paperback vs Hardcover vs eBook

Even if you’re not even remotely interested in books (which we assume you are, considering you’re on a self-publishing website), you’re probably familiar with these three terms and what they mean. Paperbacks, hardcovers, and ebooks are by far the most common formats in the publishing world today. As such, we’ve made it our mission to make all of these formats available to you as a self-published author with minimal hassle. So, unless you’re looking to get your work published as a papyrus scroll, we have what you need.

Not only can you select the format in which your book gets published, but you can tweak production details like paper type, cover finish, and cover size. In this article, we’re going to be talking about these three book formats, in order to give you the insight required to make an informed decision about your book format. As ebooks and hardcovers are on two opposite sides of the book formatting spectrum, we will discuss each of them in relation to the middle ground: the paperback.

An Overview of the Different Book Formats

If you don’t feel like combing through a text – don’t worry. We’ve highlighted the main features of each book format in a handy table. It should give you a decent overview of the benefits of paperbacks, hardcovers, and eBooks.

Key factors to pay special attention to are retail price and author margin The former will affect people’s willingness to buy your book, while the latter indicates how much of the retail price you’ll get to keep for each sale.

Which Book Format is Right for You?
  A Quick Overview for Self-Published Authors
Key Factors Paperback Hardcover Ebook
Retail Price Medium High Low
Author Margin High Medium High
Distribution Potential High High Unlimited
Customization Potential High High Low
Durability Medium High  Unlimited

What Types of Books Can I Publish?

As you’ve probably realized, all three book formats are available to you on the Bookmundo platform: paperback, hardcover, and ebook. These formats are all fairly self-explanatory, with hardcover being the most expensive to produce, and ebook being the cheapest; something worth keeping in mind when you calculate your sales price.

You’ll be able to choose your preferred format when starting the book creation process. The first two options are also available in a variety of different sizes and configurations. You can click here to get an overview of them.

Paperback vs Hardcover

Paper Type

There are three types of paper that can be used to make hardcovers and paperbacks. The type of paper you choose also affects the minimum number of pages that your manuscript needs to have in order to be printed. Consult the list below if you need some pointers:

  • Cream paper (90 grams): Recommended for novels. Requires the manuscript to be at least 57 pages long (76 for hardcover books).
  • White paper (80 grams): Recommended for non-fiction and textbooks. Requires the manuscript to be at least 57 pages long (79 for hardcover books)
  • Semi-gloss white paper (115 grams): Recommended for photo books and non-fiction titles featuring illustrations. Requires the manuscript to be at least 47 pages long (98 for hardcover books)

Sales Price

On average, the sales price of a hardcover book is £5 to £10 higher than that of a paperback. This is due to the fact that printing and binding a hardcover book is more expensive than a paperback of the same size. More material is required, and a special kind of printer is needed to attach your cover design to the cardboard making up a hard book cover. This process also takes longer than printing a paperback would.

With this in mind, it is worthwhile to give the final sales price of your book some thought, as it will have an effect on your profits. Not only will the higher production costs require you to sell your book at a higher price, but this higher price will of course have an impact on the willingness of potential readers to buy your book. Read our blog article about book pricing strategies if you want more tips on how to effectively price your book.


Naturally, a paperback book is less durable and tends to get damaged far quicker than a hardcover book. This is of course partly because paperbacks tend to get lugged around a lot more, whereas hardcover books are used more for home reading and as decoration for one’s bookshelf due to their size, weight and aesthetic. Nevertheless, paperbacks are the most popular book format, as you can clearly see in most bookstores. The combination of a lower price and practical size makes it more appealing for most readers.

Paperback vs eBook

eBooks are an alternative to traditional print books that have been growing in popularity since around 2006. Much of their popularity can be attributed to the advantages ebooks have over their printed counterparts:

  1. They’re cheap to produce, so they’re cheaper to buy – no printing or shipping costs are involved.
  2. The ability to change font types and sizes allow you to tailor your reading experience, and search functions allow you to easily navigate through the book. In short: very user-friendly.
  3. eBooks are usually stored and read on e-readers, which are compact, lightweight, and extremely portable. In addition, e-readers allow you to keep all your books in one place, so you won’t have to make any tough decisions about which book to bring with you somewhere.

As a self-published author, the features listed above make e-books a great way to maximize exposure. For example, the fact that there’s no monetary investment needed means that e-books can be used very effectively as marketing tools. Review copies, promotional excerpts, and free giveaways are some of the ways you could use the unmatched distribution potential of e-books to spread the word. If you’re interested in learning more about these marketing methods, you should take a look at our “How to Promote Your Book” page.

If you’re interested in learning more about making e-books, we recommend taking a look at our page “How to publish an E-book“, where we really get into the nitty-gritty of e-book creation. The page covering everything from the history of the e-book to the various file formats e-readers use and how you can make them yourself.

Why Choose Only One?

No matter how many “paperback vs hardcover”-style articles you read (and there are quite a few out there), the conclusion will generally be the same: both have their advantages and disadvantages. But what we’re here to tell you is that there’s very little stopping you from simply publishing your book in more than one format. After all, if you can have your cake and eat it, why wouldn’t you?

At Bookmundo, for example, you can easily publish your book in different formats at no extra cost. Whether you want to make an e-book version of your paperback, or simply want to make your work available in every possible format, all you have to do is upload your manuscript and fill in some information. If it’s an ebook, our platform will automatically convert your Word file to an EPUB.

The only caveat is that each version of your book (the paperback, the hardcover, and the ebook), will need its own ISBN, should you wish to sell it via third-party retailers like Amazon or Kobo. An ISBN will set you back £12.75, so it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the investment or not. Keep in mind that you can always come back and buy an ISBN for your published book later, so you don’t have to decide right away.

Stuck? Let us know!

There you have it. You know the good, you know the bad – now it’s up to you as an author do decide which format(s) work best for your particular book. Paperbacks are cheap, practical, and have good profit margins. Hardcovers are pricier, legitimizing, and look really nice on the reader’s shelf. eBooks are cheaper than paperbacks, but have a wider reach – and quantity is a quality of its own.

Just remember that no matter whether you decide to go for a single version, or all three, we’re here to help you realize your goal of becoming a published author. So if you have questions, we suggest you sling us an email at!