The Book Beautiful: Hard vs. Soft Cover

When self-publishing, one of the aesthetic decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not to publish your book as a hard or soft cover. The decision is one that will mainly affect your readers, so when exploring the pros and cons of this decision, we will be considering the experience and opinions of your potential readers.

books on display India

First let’s consider what the pros are to publishing a hardcover title?

  1. Hardcovers are just plain nice to look at. They are sleek.
  2. You don’t have to worry about the pages getting ‘flappy’ or folded at the edges.
  3. They absolutely last longer–I can’t tell you how many paperback books I have with torn off or taped on covers.
  4. No need for a bookmark, just use the handy-dandy book jacket!
  5. Look great as additions to a bookshelf or coffee table.

And the cons to publishing a hardcover title?

  1. They are heavy as can be; i.e. not ideal for travel.
  2. They are undoubtedly more expensive which will deter a lot of potential readers. This also means a higher publishing expense which is important to those of us self-publishing authors.
  3. A lot of readers find book jackets annoying and simply remove them, which means all that time you spent designing a cover may go to waste.
  4. It can certainly be more awkward to handle and read a hardcover; they are bulky and not easily wielded with one hand.
  5. Readers tend to only buy hardcover books of authors they are already die-hard fans of, so if you don’t already have a fan base, it may be more difficult to create one if your book is only available in hardcover.

Now to consider to pros of publishing a softcover title:

  1. Relatively speaking, softcover books are cheaper, both to print and to purchase.
  2. Softcovers are easier to travel with, they are also easier to read on the go.
  3. They are more widely purchased, so you have a better chance of people buying your book, especially first time readers of yours.

And then cons of publishing a softcover title?

  1. They are semi-easy to tear; the cover may fall off.
  2. Not long lasting, especially if you travel with them.
  3. Depending on printing costs, they may not have as high of a profit margin.

With those things in mind, the decision is now yours! (I won’t further complicate things by discussing the pros and cons of adding an ebook to your publication artillery. 🙂 )

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,

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