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Hardcover vs. Hardback: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 2, 2023
"Hardcover" and "hardback" are interchangeable terms referring to a book bound with a rigid protective cover

Key Differences

The terms "hardcover" and "hardback" are often used interchangeably in the book industry to describe a book with stiff, durable covers. In both cases, these types of covers provide better protection and longevity to the printed work than their softcover counterparts. Hardcover books are characterized by their thick cardboard or cloth covers, often with a dust jacket.
Hardcover books, also known as hardback books, are bound using rigid protective boards and a spine that can withstand wear and tear. Both terms describe books that are designed for durability and are often more expensive than paperback editions. The choice between "hardcover" and "hardback" is largely a matter of regional preference, with "hardcover" being more commonly used in the United States.
Each hardcover or hardback book is typically bound with threads or wires, and the cover is usually made of cardboard covered in cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather. The main goal of a hardcover or hardback is to protect the pages within, and these books are usually higher in quality and price. The internal paper quality of hardcover books tends to be better as well, with thicker paper that lessens transparency and feels more substantial.
Libraries frequently prefer hardcover or hardback books due to their strength and durability. Such bindings can stand up to the additional wear that comes from frequent use and circulation. Whether you call them hardcover or hardback, these books are designed to last and are often considered more collectible. Additionally, many first editions and special editions of books are published in hardcover format, making them more desirable for collectors.
For collectors and bibliophiles, the terms "hardcover" and "hardback" both imply a degree of quality and durability in a book's physical construction. While there is no distinction in terms of construction or quality between hardcover and hardback books, the preference for one term over the other can vary by publisher, region, and context.

Comparison Chart

Terminology Usage

Preferred in the United States.
Used interchangeably with hardcover.


Rigid protective cover.
Identical to hardcover, rigid cover.


Designed to be durable.
Same level of durability as hardcover.


Generally more expensive than paperbacks.
Same price point as hardcover.


Often collected for longevity.
Equally collectible as hardcovers.

Hardcover and Hardback Definitions


A book with a stiff and sturdy outer binding.
I prefer reading hardcover editions because they last longer.


Another term for books with a hard outer binding.
The first edition of this novel came in hardback.


The term for a book bound with rigid covers.
The library's new acquisitions are all hardcovers.


A type of bookbinding that is synonymous with hardcover.
I found an old hardback in the attic, still in good condition.


A type of bookbinding using hard protective covers.
This novel was only released in a hardcover version.


A book with hard, protective boards for covers.
She lined her shelves with hardbacks because they are more durable.


Hardcover books are preferred for their durability and collectibility.
I gifted him a hardcover edition of his favorite book.


Books that are made to withstand heavy use.
The school library stocks hardbacks to endure frequent handling.


Having a rigid binding, as of cardboard covered with cloth or with leather. Used of books.


Hardback editions that are often published as first editions.
Collectors look for first edition hardbacks for their value.


A hardcover book.




A book with a rigid binding, often of cardboard or leather.


(of a book) Having a rigid binding.


A book with cardboard or cloth or leather covers


Having a hard back or cover;
Hardback books


A book that is often more expensive due to its binding.
Her book collection consists mostly of hardcovers.


Is there a difference in quality between hardcover and hardback books?

No, there's no difference in quality; they're the same type of binding.

Why are hardcover books more expensive?

Hardcover books cost more due to their durable construction and materials.

Are hardcover books heavier than hardback?

No, they weigh the same, as they are essentially the same type of book.

Is it common for a book to be released in hardback before paperback?

Yes, it's common for books to be released in hardback before paperback.

Are hardcover and hardback books the same in terms of printing?

Yes, the printing process for both hardcover and hardback books is the same.

Can you purchase a hardback book without a dust jacket?

Yes, some hardback books come without a dust jacket.

Is the term hardback more common in certain countries?

Yes, hardback is more commonly used in the UK, while hardcover is more common in the US.

Do hardback books also come with dust jackets?

Yes, hardback books often have dust jackets.

Do hardcover books have different paper quality than hardback?

No, they generally have the same paper quality since they are the same thing.

Can hardback books have different types of covers?

Yes, hardback covers can vary, including cloth, paper, or leather.

Are first editions always published as hardcovers?

Often they are, but not always exclusively.

Are hardback books suitable for collecting?

Yes, hardback books are often sought after by collectors.

Are picture books typically published as hardcover or hardback?

Picture books for children are often published in hardcover/hardback for durability.

Do hardcover and hardback books have the same resale value?

Yes, their resale value is typically similar, depending on condition and demand.

Do hardcover books last longer than hardback?

No, both hardcover and hardback books have comparable longevity.

Why do libraries prefer hardback books?

Libraries prefer them for their durability and long shelf life.

Can hardcover books be bound in leather?

Yes, some hardcover books are bound in leather for a premium finish.

Are there size differences between hardcover and hardback books?

No, size differences are due to the book's format, not the cover type.

Can hardcover and hardback books be recycled?

Yes, but their covers need to be removed as they're made of different materials.

Do all hardcover books come with a bookmark ribbon?

Not all; the inclusion of a bookmark ribbon varies by publisher and edition.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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