Do you judge a book by its cover? This question usually precedes a discussion of what constitutes good (and bad) cover design. But I’m changing it up here and referring instead to the type of cover, i.e. hardcover vs. paperback.
In the print-on-demand world, paperbacks reign supreme. They are more cost-effective and faster to produce than hardcovers, so they are the default option for the vast majority of self-published books. In fact, hardcover books are not even offered by many print-on-demand resources, with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) at the top of that list.
So if you are self-publishing, does that mean your book will automatically be a paperback? Absolutely not. With some research and ideally, the assistance of a knowledgeable book designer, a hardcover book is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Why consider the hardcover format? Probably the top reason is impact. A hardcover book simply has more presence. Just as publishing a paperback is more involved than an ebook, a hardcover edition is a step up from a paperback. It conveys a commitment to publishing and sense of permanence, thereby lending more credibility to the content.
Because the independent publishing landscape is dominated by paperbacks, hardcover books benefit from their association with the world of traditional publishing. They stand out in look and feel, and are noteworthy by virtue of being the less common format.
And of course, hardcovers are more durable by the very nature of their construction. Thus, the hardcover format may be desirable for books that are destined for long term or pass-along readership. And by extension, the format imbues a notion of longevity to the material.
So are you now inspired to consider the hardcover format for your next book but don’t know where to start? That’s where your book design professional comes in, one who is armed with knowledge of printing resources and proper file preparation for dust jackets and laminated cover artwork. Depending on the printer, there may be additional design decisions such as color choices for a cloth hardcover, foil stamping, endpapers and binding thread. With the higher cost and longer timeline of producing a hardcover book, these are the details that are best handled by an experienced designer to avoid delays and extra expense.
Not every book needs a hardcover edition, like that summer beach read or pocket travel guide. But when you think about why you are writing your book, be sure to consider the experience you want your reader to have, which may suggest giving serious thought to the hardcover format.