This is one topic which is asked by many aspiring authors, especially by those, who are contemplating self publishing in near future. There is no clear answer to this question, however, if we try to analyse the same question from two perspective, that is cost and sales, then we can get some meaningful answers.
When we are self publishing, we are already bearing all the cost before the book is produced. Every single dollar counts and we want that the cost of production should not be too high, yet, we are able to put the best product (with best story, design, illustrations, layout, cover etc.) into the market where it meets the target audience.
Now, the important question (regarding a hardcover or a paperback version) which arises here, in the mind is, does it make any difference to the audience when they buy the book. Is the potential audience really concerned about the format of the book (Hardcover or paperback) or is the audience only concerned about the worth of the story and overall feel of the book. Although there is no clear answer to this, but, with most of the book purchase happening online, the reader does not really see if the book is hardcover of paperback.
For example, consider a scenario where Michael, a potential book lover decides to buy a Children’s book for his six year old daughter. He log in to Amazon and decides to have a look in the children’s book category. What he sees there is the cover mage of the book and the reviews / ratings along with a couple of pages of inside view of the book. If he is convinced that this book is a good fit for his 6 years old daughter, he will go ahead and order the book, which will be delivered in 4-5 days. In this overall scenario, he may have been concerned about the book being a hardcover or paperback, but since the purchase is taking place online, the reader’s main concern is story, reviews and overall cover of the book.
There is no big difference in the sales figure of Hardcover or paperback books. Infact, due to low print cost associated as well low retail price of the book, the paperback certainly emerges as the winner.
As far as costing is concerned, the hardcover option is certainly costlier to print as well as its selling price is also higher. So, for first time authors with limited budget, i will always suggest to go for a paperback option. Moreover, adding the hardcover option is always possible.
The writer is S Shekhar, who is an expert in Children’s book and has helped hundreds of authors worldwide in getting published. He is a consultant and authors coach.