Book Publishing Specialists
Hardcover or Paperback?January 12, 2009 by Kat Gautreaux, Account Manager
At some point you have to decide if your book will be published as a hardcover or a paperback.
Here are some pointers:
Who is your target audience?
If you have written a family history or a memoir to be passed down through the generations (and your expectation is that you won't sell many copies), then a hardback edition is a great option. Hardcovers are very durable and can last throughout the years as they’re moved from family to family.
How much do you think your readers will be willing to pay for your book?
Hardbacks can be pricey. There is no question about it. Realistically consider the list price of your book as a hardback as opposed to a paperback. It may be smarter, from a sales perspective, to make your book a paperback so you can price it more competitively.
If you are leaning towards the hardback over the paperback, ask yourself why.
If you are publishing a book of poems that you believe should be honored by a glossy dust jacket for posterity because it is your life’s work, I humbly ask you to consider a paperback. The cost benefit of the paperback and the potential for future sales will likely outweigh the “glamour” aspect of the hardback soon enough. My Norton's Anthology of Poetry from college makes a fantastic door stop on a breezy day.
Are you going to need to make revisions in the coming years?
Many business books and other nonfiction niche books will need to be updated as the culture or technology changes. Hardbacks are expensive for readers. If you predict updates in the future, consider a paperback so that your readers will be more likely to buy the updated version.
Is your book gigantic?
If your book is more than 500 pages, you’ll want a hardcover. Paperbacks tend to fall apart at this size. The drawback is that a hardback will be heavier and harder to lug around, but most readers would rather build up their biceps than try to keep together a folder of loose pages.
What we at Wheatmark have learned about printing in hardback vs. paperback.
The dust jacket concept is not one most readers appreciate. When people pick up a book, they are looking for the content inside and not looking to hold the pieces together. The jackets, although pretty, end up ripped off and tossed aside. Also, many of the readers we’ve asked say they don’t enjoy lugging around hardbacks; they only buy them when they’re deeply discounted -- to the point of being less expensive than the paperback -- or when it’s an author they just can’t wait to read.
Before going for the flash of a hardback, consider the list price difference and how your readers will use your book in the future. Often, the smart money is on paperbacks!
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