Publishing 101

  1. Traditional and Self-Publishing
  2. Publishing vs. Printing
  3. Text and Formatting
  4. Fonts and Styling
  5. Editing and Proofreading
  6. Photos and Illustrations
  7. Color vs. B&W/Grayscale
  8. Paper Options
  9. Trim Sizes
  10. Covers and Bindings
  11. ISBN
  12. LCCN
  13. Copyright
  14. Publishing Costs
  15. Pricing Your Book
  16. Sales and Marketing
  17. Legal and Tax Requirements

Covers and Bindings

Once a book's contents have been printed on paper, the book's pages must be bound together and a cover must be added. For the sake of simplicity, time, and space, we will discuss only the most commonly used types of covers and bindings here.

The two common cover types are hardcover (a.k.a. trade cloth, case-bound, hardback) and softcover (a.k.a. paperback). Choosing among cover and binding options involves many factors, including personal preference, number of pages in your book, how your book will be used, and cost.

Modern hardcover books are usually case-bound. A hardcover book consists of signatures held together by glue or stitching. End sheets (often colored) are applied to serve as the interior lining of the cover and as the first and last pages (blank) of the book. The cover is made of thick cardboard covered with paper, cloth, or other material. Hardcover books may or may not include a dust jacket (this has become less common in recent years). Hardcover books are more durable than softcover books, but are also more expensive to produce. Hardcover books generally require a minimum of 32 pages and a typical maximum of 400 pages.
Softcover books are usually perfect bound, but may be bound using other methods as well (e.g., saddle stitch, spiral bind, comb bind). A softcover book consists of signatures (or sheets of paper, depending on the binding method) held together and covered by a thicker stock. While not as durable as hardcovers, softcover books are cheaper to produce and are quite popular. A perfect-bound softcover book generally requires a minimum of 64 pages and a typical maximum of 400 pages.